A series of fifteen coins was issued in 1994 celebrating inventions and discoveries of ancient China. The series comprises five gold, five silver, and five platinum coins. Shown above are the five 1/2 oz gold coins of the series. They are proof coins of 99.9% fineness with mintages of 1200 pieces each. The series features five significant inventions and discoveries from ancient China, depictions of which are shown on the reverse faces of the coins along with inscriptions detailing the dates of the inventions and the denomination of the coins, 50 yuan. The obverse faces show a picture of the Great Wall, an inscription in Chinese reading: “The People’s Republic of China”, and the year of issue, 1994.
The first of the five inventions and discoveries featured on the reverse faces of this set of gold coins is the comet. Even though comets were first recorded by Chinese observers during the 11th Century BC, it is thought that they were aware of their existence as early as 2000 BC.
The second coin depicts the invention of Bianzhong bells around 700 BC. Bianzhong bells were sets of bronze chimes arranged on a wooden frame and struck with a mallet. They are unique in that their shape allows for each bell to produce two notes.
The third coin features the invention of silk. Silk products were widely distributed along the famous Silk Road by the Chinese to the west since the Han Dynasty.
The fourth shows the invention of the square-pallet chain pump, invented during the 1st Century AD and designed as a irrigation device to draw water up to rice paddies.
The final coin depicts the invention of the sailing mast dating from 1403 AD.
Of these five inventions and discoveries, the Bianzhong was selected by the distributors to be the focus of the series. The coins were originally distributed with a miniature brass set of Bianzhong bells.
This 1994 1/2 oz gold set is hard to come by. However, the 1994 1/4 oz platinum coins are even rarer because not only were only 500 struck of each in the first place, but many of the coins were also destroyed.