In 1986, the China Mint released a set of five panda coins. All of these coins are of proof quality, and therefore bear the ‘P’ mark on the reverse face. The coins bear the following denominations: 5 yuan, 10 yuan, 25 yuan, 50 yuan and 100 yuan. In all, 10,000 of each of these coins were produced in 1986.
The smallest in diameter as well as in face value, the 5 yuan coin weighs 1/20th of an ounce and measures 14 millimeters in diameter. The 10 yuan coin weighs 1/10th of an ounce and has a diameter of 18 millimeters. The 25 yuan coin weighs a quarter of an ounce and measures 22 millimeters across. The 50 yuan coin weighs half an ounce and measures 27 millimeters across. The 100 yuan coin, the largest in diameter at 32 millimeters across, weighs one ounce.
On the obverse face of each of these coins, one can see the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, located at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. The Temple of Heaven, commissioned by the Yongle Emperor in 1406, was constructed for the purpose of prayer for plentiful and healthy crops. The emperor would travel to the Temple during the Winter solstice to pray and make sacrifices for the sake of a plentiful crop. The Temple was in use from the year of 1420 until 1911, when dynastic rule was overthrown by the Nationalist Party. At the top edge of the obverse, one can see the characters that translate to, “The People’s Republic of China.” Beneath the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the year of production, 1986.
On the reverse face of each of the coins is a portrait of the national animal of China, the panda bear. The panda is pictured in a stylized drawing. It is posed on all fours, turning its head slightly to the side. The mirror-like background of the proof coin is used to represent the areas of black fur on the panda, and the three-dimensional matte embellishments make up the white areas of fur. Bamboo, a symbol of tranquility in China, surrounds the panda bear. If the Temple of Heaven is one of the foremost architectural symbol’s of China’s dynastic era, the panda bear is the foremost symbol of China’s natural beauty and resources. The panda was often given as a gift to foreign rulers in dynastic China; it is still seen as a symbol of diplomacy. Below the panda on the coins, one can see the denomination of the coin. Above the panda are the specifications of the coin: “contains .999 Au, pure silver.” The weight is different on each coin: 1/20 of an ounce, 1/10th of an ounce, one quarter of an ounce, one half of an ounce, and one ounce, respectively.