The coin shown is one of seven of a series of commemorative dragon and phoenix coins celebrating the status of the dragon and phoenix in Chinese culture. Together they make a complete set. Three gold and three silver coins were issued in 1990. Four years later in 1994 a bi-metallic coin was issued. The obverse of the coins in the series bear the inscription in Chinese characters: “The People’s Republic of China”, below which is an image of the ancient Great Wall of China. Below this is inscribed the year of issue. Except for the 0.5 yuan 2g silver and 10 yuan 1g gold coins, all the coins are inscribed on the outer edge of the reverse face with details pertaining to their metallic properties.
The Great Wall of China, including all its branches and extensions, stretches for 21,196km from its eastern end at the Shanhai Pass to its western end at Lop Lake in Xinjiang Province. Built to protect China from the Xiongnu tribes living on its northern border and to control trade, construction began in 220 BC during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) after the unification of China in 221 BC. Significant modifications and extensions have been made since, most notably during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
The reverse of the coins feature an image of a dragon playing in flight with a phoenix. Traditional Chinese culture values the dragon and the phoenix extremely highly. Chinese people revere these creatures for their divine and mythical nature, and they are believed to be magical and very powerful. The dragon symbolises power and success, and is the totem of the Chinese who often refer to themselves as the ‘Descendants of the Dragon’. The phoenix is second only to the dragon, symbolising longevity and prosperity for its ability to come back to life. The denomination is inscribed between the two creatures, to the right and below the centre of the coin face.
The coin pictured is the 10 yuan, 1g gold coin of the series struck at the Shenyang mint. It is a proof coin of 99.9% purity and has a mintage of 50,000. It is the smallest coin of the series with a diameter of 10mm. The year of production, 1990, is inscribed at the bottom of the obverse face.
This gold coin, like other gold coins in the series, comes with a yellow certificate which guarantees its authenticity. Similarly, blue certificates are distributed with the silver coins of the series.