The coin pictured is one of twenty 1987 panda coins. Of the twenty issued in this year, seventeen are gold and three are silver. The largest denominations of 500 yuan and 1000 yuan in the series have images of two pandas on their reverse, while all others in the group only show a single panda. The obverse of the coins in the series bear the inscription: “The People’s Republic of China”. Below this inscription is an image of the Temple of Heaven with its striking and iconic set of stairs leading up to it. Below this is the year of mintage, 1987.
The Temple of Heaven was the place where the emperors of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties would go at the winter solstice to worship Heaven and pray for a good harvest. This was of particular significance for them since it was believed that Heaven gave the Emperor his mandate to rule, and a poor harvest might indicate to the people that the Emperor had lost this mandate, thereby weakening his rule in the eyes of the populace.
This is the 500 yuan, 5 oz gold coin of the series. It is a proof coin of 99.9% purity and has a mintage of 3,000. The reverse of the coin is one of only two in the series that depicts two pandas – all others in the series only show one. The top of the reverse side bears an inscription pertaining to the specifications of the coin. It reads: “Contains 5 ounces of pure gold, purity .999, 5oz Au”. Below the inscription are two pandas – an adult and a cub. The cub is sitting on a rock watching the adult panda in the foreground which is feeding on a bamboo plant growing in front of the rock.
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