Bronze wares have played an important role in China’s history. They have been used for military purposes, musical instruments, mirrors, rulers and storage for food and drink. Further, in the ancient times, bronze wares were also an indicator of a person’s class. Laws stipulated that only royal family members could use all types and sizes of bronze wares but the average person was limited in their ability to use bronze wares. Chinese Bronze wares, as precious metal ware, was mainly used for ceremonial purposes by the upper class in ancient China for about 2000 years.
To represent the great achievements of the ancient Chinese people, the People’s Bank of China has released three groups of Bronze Age gold and silver coins. The 1981 set includes: elephant, rhinoceros, dragon, and panther; the 1992 set includes: deer, palace lamp, goat, tiger; the 1993 set includes silver ox, human-shape lamp, bird, and horse keeper. There are 8 coins in each set, 4 gold and 4 silver. These sets are produced by the Shanghai Mint, and distributed by China Gold Coin Incorporation.
The 1981 bronze age set: elephant, rhinoceros, flying monster, and panther. The coins are all proof, with a purity of 91.6% and a number of 1000 for gold coins, and a purity of 90% and a mintage of 5000 for silver coins. On the obverse there is the national emblem, and on the reverse there are the items from the Chinese bronze age: elephant vessel, rhinoceros vessel, flying monster vessel and panther vessel. These coins were originally sold overseas by an American silver product distributor.
1oz gold coin and 15g silver coin: The diameter of the gold coin is 32mm with a face value of 800 Yuan; the diameter of the silver coin is 33mm with a face value of 5 Yuan. The image on the obverse is the best of the bronze wares of the Shang Dynasty – the Cup of Elephant, which was used to contain wine. The Cup of Elephant is 26.5cm high. The nose is empty and on the bottom are the strong legs. There is a bird on the nose, a snake on the forehead and a rabbit on the back. There are 11 types of animals on the elephant in total, which is a feature of Shang bronze wares.
1/2 oz gold coin and 15g silver coin: The diameter of the gold coin is 32mm with a face value of 400; the diameter of the gold coin is 33mm with a face value of 5. The image on the observer is rhinoceros: 34.1 cm tall, 58.1 cm long. The design is vivid, revealing to people the explosive power of the monster.
1/4oz gold coin and 15g silver coin: the diameter of the gold one is 22mm with a face value of 200 Yuan; the diameter of the silver coin is 33mm with a face value of 5 Yuan. On the reverse, there is the double-wing saint animal, and the gold panther.
The saint animal is 23.9 cm tall and 40.1 cm long. The gold panther is 3.5 cm tall and 300g – 500g.
The 1992 Bronze Age set includes: deer, palace lamp, goat-cup, and tiger-tally. This set is made up of proof coins, gold ones with the purity of 91.6% and a mintage of 500, the silver ones with the purity of 90% and a mintage of 3000 sets. On the obverse is the national emblem, the release date and the words “China Bronze Age Coins”. On the reverse are the images of the bronze wares and the date of issuance.
1oz Gold Coin and 15g Silver Coin: the diameter of the gold coins is 32mm, and the face value is 100 Yuan; the diameter of the silver coins are 33mm, and the face value is 5 Yuan. On the reverse there are the best items of the bronze wares of the Zhan Guo times – the crouching deer: 52 cm tall and 26 cm long. The image is very vivid with calcite embedded. According to experts’ opinion, the bronze deer is a support that was used for reflective purposes as a mirror.
1/2 oz Gold Coins and 17g Silver Coins: the diameter of the gold coins is 27mm, and the face value of 50 Yuan; the diameter of the silver coins is 33mm and the face value is 5 Yuan. On the obverse there is the palace lamp: the lamp is 48 cm tall and the human sculpture is 44.5 cm. The lamp was placed in the palace where the queen of the West Han lived. The shape of the lamp is as a young girl, left hand raising the lamp, and the right hand supporting the lampshade. The Palace Lamp is regarded as one of the most prized works of art in China’s history, not only because of the beautiful design, but also the uniqueness. The Palace Lamp is called “The Number One Lamp of China”.
1/4oz Gold Coin and 15g Silver Coin: the diameter of the gold coins is 22mm and the face value is 25 Yuan; The diameter of the silver coins is 33mm and the face value is 5 Yuan. On the reverse, are the bronze wares of the Shang and Zhan Guo Dynasty – Goat Cup and Tiger Tally. Goat Cup: a wine container that was made in the Shang Dynasty. The shape is a goat with giant horns. Tiger Tally: the tiger tally is a military commander’s tally, half of which is kept by the emperor and the other half of which is kept by the general. The tally is 4.4 cm tall, 9.5 cm long and 0.7 cm thick. In the ancient world, the tiger tally was viewed as a very important item as communication between the battlefield and the emperor was difficult. It can also be regarded as the rudiment of today’s security key system that is widely used on the Internet.