The coin pictured is one of twelve which make up a set of 100 yuan 1 oz gold lunar coins issued between 1988 and 1999. The reverse face of the coins in the set feature paintings of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. The obverse of the coins bear the inscription in Chinese characters: “The People’s Republic of China”. Above the inscription on all coins in the set (except the Year of the Dragon coin issued in 1988 which features an image of the Temple of Heaven) is a rendering of the National Emblem of China. The year of production is inscribed on all coins at the bottom of the obverse face.
The coin shown is the 1990 Year of the Horse coin of the set. It is a proof coin of 99.9% purity with a diameter of 32mm. It has a mintage of 6,000.
The obverse face shows an image of the National Emblem of China which features an image of Tiananmen Gate with five stars, one large and four small, above it. Tiananmen Gate marks the entrance to the Imperial Palace of Beijing. The gate was built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The large star on the emblem represents the Communist Party of China, while the four smaller ones stand for the four Maoist social classes.
The reverse features a rendering of the painting entitled “Picture of Tang Horse” by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), one of the best-known Chinese artists of the 20th Century and also a master forger. The painting shows a saddled and bridled horse mid-gallop. The denomination, 100 yuan, is inscribed below and to the right of the image. Below this is an inscription in Chinese characters pertaining to the specifications of the coin. It reads: “Contains 1 oz pure gold purity .999 1 oz Au”.
Those born in the Year of the Horse are thought of as possessing intelligence and genius, having boundless prospects and success. As a result it is a very popular animal in the Chinese zodiac. The horse is also a symbol of liberation and freedom, reflected in its unconstrained and carefree nature of the galloping horse.
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