The reduction in complexity and size of the Inventions and Discoveries of Ancient China series continued in the 1995 series. The 1995 series comprises eleven coins compared with fifteen the previous year. The eleven coins include a set of five 1/2 oz 50 yuan gold coins, a set of five 22g 5 yuan silver coins, and a 15g 3 yuan silver coin. They are all proof coins.
Displayed above are the five coins making up the gold coins set from the series. The coins, measuring 27mm in diameter, contain 99.9% pure gold and have mintages of 1,200.
The design on the obverse face is of the Great Wall, arguably China’s greatest feat of engineering and architectural skill, with the Chinese characters for “The People’s Republic of China” inscribed above. At the bottom of the coin face is the year of issue, 1995.
The reverse faces feature five inventions and discoveries of ancient China. These inventions are depicted on the reverse faces of the coins with inscriptions giving the dates of the discoveries and the face value of coins, 50yuan.
The five inventions commemorated by these coins are: acupuncture, the practice of which emerged during the 2nd Century BC; the game of Go, dating from the 8th Century BC; the development of block printing between the 8th and 11th Century AD; gunpowder, invented in the 11th Century AD; and the production of porcelain in the 9th Century AD.
The significance and influence of these discoveries is wide reaching even today. The inventions of gunpowder and block printing are two of the four (the other two being paper and the compass) so called “Four Great Inventions” of ancient China. The practice of acupuncture is still used today in medicine, extensively in the east, but is also widely used as a form of alternative treatment in the west. The popularity of porcelain led to the use of the term “China” to refer to high quality pottery.
For this series, it was decided that porcelain should be the feature invention, and so the original sets were distributed with an exquisite porcelain bowl bearing a panda design.