The coin shown above is one of seven issued by the People’s Bank of China between 1983 and 1993 to celebrate the legacy of Marco Polo (1254 – 1324). Of the seven issued, three are gold and four are silver. This is the 5oz gold coin of the series, has a face value of 500 yuan, and was issued in 1993. It is a rare coin with a mintage of only 99, and is of proof quality with a purity of 99.9%.
The design on the obverse face is of the National Emblem of the People’s Republic of China with the inscription in traditional Chinese characters “The People’s Republic of China” above it, and the year of production, 1993, inscribed underneath.
The reverse face shows a image of the Venetian explorer and merchant Marco Polo. His voyages were recorded in Livres des Merveilles du Monde, or in English more commonly known as The Travels of Marco Polo, written by his cellmate who heard Marco Polo’s account of his travels when they were imprisoned together in Genoa after Polo’s return from his 24-year voyage of discovery to Asia. The book was instrumental in introducing European readers to the Far East, particularly China and Central Asia. His travels served as inspiration for other explorers, notably Christopher Columbus. The image of Marco Polo is rendered on the left of the reverse face, with pictures of Chinese architecture shown to the right. Below the images is the denomination, 500 yuan, while above them appears his name in both Chinese characters and English, followed by his dates, 1254 – 1324.