The coin shown is one of seven which together make a series of commemorative dragon and phoenix coins celebrating the dragon and phoenix in Chinese culture. Six of the coins were produced in 1990, of which three are gold and three are silver. One bi-metallic coin was produced four years later in 1994. 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 Great Wall winding up a mountainside featuring one of the wall’s iconic watchtowers. Below this is the year of issue. With the exception of the 0.5 yuan 2g silver and 10 yuan 1g gold coins, all the coins bear an inscription on the outer edge of the reverse face pertaining to the metallic properties of the coin.
Although the Great Wall as we know it today was largely built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), construction initially began during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) following the unification of China in 221 BC. Very little of this original wall remains. The majority of the wall that stands today is as a result of those major construction works commissioned during the Ming Dynasty, and represents one of the greatest engineering and architectural achievements in Chinese history.
The reverse of the coins feature an image of a dragon and a phoenix playing in flight together. Their bodies seem to wrap around the edges of the coin, their heads coming close together in the centre of the coin face forming a well-balanced and aesthetically pleasing image. In Chinese culture dragons traditionally embody a masculine, powerful, ambitious, happy, and prosperous spirit. The phoenix represents an outstanding feminine character, embodying longevity, immortality, fortune, prosperity, and happiness. As a result of the powerful characteristics of these divine and mythical creatures, the dragon and phoenix are held in high regard alongside the Qilin by the Chinese. The denomination is inscribed between the two creatures, to the right and below the centre of the coin face.
The coin pictured is the 20 yuan, 2 oz silver coin of the series struck at the Shenyang mint. It is a proof coin of 99.9% purity and has a mintage of 5,000 with a diameter of 45mm. The year of production, 1990, is inscribed at the bottom of the obverse face. The bottom edge of the reverse face bears an inscription detailing the properties of the coin. It reads: “.999 Ag 2 oz”.
Like the 20 oz silver coin in the series, this coin is distributed with a blue certificate guaranteeing its authenticity.