The coin pictured above is one of thirty-two 1999 panda coins. Of the thirty-two coins produced in this year, twenty-six are gold, and six are silver. The reverse of the coins in this series show the same panda image. The obverse of the coins all bear the inscription: “The People’s Republic of China”. Below this inscription on all coins in the group is an image of the Temple of Heaven with its iconic and imposing set of stairs leading up to it, below which is the year of production, 1999.
The Temple of Heaven was built in 1420 AD during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The Emperor visited the Temple of Heaven every year at the time of the winter solstice to pray to both Heaven and Earth for a good harvest. This was very important and significant for the feudal Chinese as it was believed that a mandate from Heaven legitimised the rule of the Emperor, and so a good harvest would show Heaven still supported the Emperor, thereby strengthening his rule.
This is the 100 yuan, 1 oz gold coin of the series produced in 1999. It is a brilliant uncirculated (BU) coin of 99.9% purity and has a mintage of 32,439. At the time when these coins were struck in 1999, three different versions with the above specification were issued. The Shanghai mint issued coins with a small date beneath the image on the obverse; the Shenyang mint produced coins struck with a large date without serif; and the Shenzhen Guobao issued coins struck featuring a large date with serif. The mintage figure is for all three varieties combined.
The reverse of the coin shows a picture of a lone panda perched on a rocky outcrop surrounded by bamboo shoots, peering over the edge. The denomination is inscribed to the left of the image. Around the top edge of the reverse face is an inscription pertaining to the specifications of the coin. It reads: “.999 Au 1 oz”.
The mint originally issued these coins in sheets holding ten coins each, arranged in a five-by-two pattern. These sheets of ten were then split into individual coins for distribution and as a result these original sheets are very rare. This is the Small Date variety.