This is a 1/2 oz gold lunar scallop-shaped coin which is one of a set of twelve 1/2 oz gold lunar scallop coins, one coin issued each year starting in 1993 and commemorating the Chinese zodiac animals.
This is the 2001 commemorative gold coin of the Year of the Snake. It is the first of the set issued between 1993 and 2004 to have a face value of 200 yuan (the others previously having denominations of 100 yuan). Similar to the other coins in the set, the Year of the Snake coin has a diameter of 27mm, is shaped like a scallop or plum blossom, and has a mintage of 2,300. It is also the first coin in the set to have a purity of 99.9% (coins in the set from previous years were of 91.6% purity).
The reverse face depicts a picture of a snake with the denomination inscribed below. The artist is not known. The picture shows the snake, loosely coiled, its forked tongue poking out. The snake’s scales are highly detailed and meticulously and accurately rendered on the coin face. The snake is the wisest animal in the zodiac and occupies the sixth position in the order of the twelve animals. It is the embodiment of sagacity. Traditional astrology associates character traits such as cunning, acuteness, deep-thinking, and introversion with people born in snake years.
Depicted on the obverse face of the coin is Guanque Tower, above which appears the Chinese characters meaning: “The People’s Republic of China”. Below the depiction of the tower is the year in which the coin was produced, 2001. Guanque Tower stands on the eastern bank of the Yellow River in the town of Puzhou. The tower was built between 557-580 AD. It takes its name from the storks that perched on top.
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