In 1990, twenty-six panda coins in different metals and different denominations were produced by the People’s Bank of China. This is one of the silver designs of the coin, containing 12 ounces of silver and bearing the denomination of 100 yuan. This design of the coin measures 80 millimeters in diameter. There are four other silver coins, sixteen gold coins, four platinum coins and one that is bi-metallic. Each of these coins depicts a scene of pandas on the reverse, and a depiction of the Temple of Heaven on the obverse. In all, the China Mint released 2,500 of these 12 ounce, 99.9% pure, silver coins were released in 1990.
On the reverse of this coin is a scene of three pandas, perhaps cubs. One panda has scaled a tree that leans out over a stream. It lies in the tree lackadaisically, while a second panda stands in the water and reaches toward the tree. A third panda is on the shoreline, leaning down to take a drink from the flowing water. Bamboo appears on the opposite shore. Under the branches of the tree, one can read the specifications of the coin. The coin’s face value, 100 yuan, is printed above the coin’s metallic properties, “contains .999 Ag, twelve ounces of pure silver.”
This relaxing natural scene contrasts with the great architecture displayed on the obverse of the coin. The Temple of Heaven is depicted on this coin, a mighty building that has been not only influential in China, but architecturally inspirational throughout the Far East. If the panda is a symbol of China’s natural beauty, the Temple of Heaven is a symbol of China’s dynastic history and prowess. This building, constructed in the Ming Dynasty, functioned as a prayer hall for China’s emperor’s until 1911. Each emperor would visit the hall during Winter Solstice and offer prayers and sacrifices to ensure a plentiful harvest the following year. Below the temple, the year of release, 1990, is printed. Above it appear the characters for “The People’s Republic of China.”
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