China 1995 5 oz Gold Unicorn

500 Yuan Proof Coin

About the China 1995 5 oz Gold Unicorn 500 Yuan Proof Coin

The coin pictured above is one of twelve 1995 unicorn coins.  Unicorn coins were issued between 1994 and 1997.  Of the twelve coins produced in 1995, six are gold, four are silver, one is platinum, and one is bi-metallic.  The reverse of the coins in this series show an image of the same two traditional western unicorns.  The obverse of the coins all bear the inscription: “The People's Republic of China”.  With the exception of the bi-metallic coin of the series, below this inscription on all coins in the group is an image a Qilin or traditional Chinese unicorn, below which is the year of production, 1995.  The Qilin is pictured rearing up on its hind legs over two puffs of smoke.  The Chinese characters for “Qilin” are inscribed to the right of the image.

In Chinese mythology the appearance of a Qilin heralds the birth or death of a sage or distinguished ruler.  It is a good omen said to bring rui or prosperity.  The Qilin is a magical beast traditionally represented with the head of a dragon surrounded by flames, a scaly body, the hooves of an ox, and the tail of a lion.  Despite its terrifying appearance, the Qilin is mostly a gentle beast and only punishes evil doers. 

This is the 500 yuan, 5 oz gold coin of the series produced in 1995.  It is a proof coin of 99.9% purity with a diameter of 60mm.  While it had a planned mintage of 99, it has an actual mintage of 102.  Since the 5 oz gold unicorn coins were only issued for the first three years of production, they are particularly collectable.

The reverse of the coin displays a picture of two traditional European unicorns. One stands with its head bowed, while the other, a foal, lies at its front hooves.  They are pictured above a chain of flowers.  A symbol of purity and grace, the western unicorn is traditionally shown as a pure white horse with a single distinctive spiral horn and the beard of a goat.  The horn was highly sought after in Medieval and Renaissance Europe for its healing properties and ability to render poison potable.  The denomination is inscribed above and to the right of the image.  The top edge of the reverse face bears the inscription in Chinese characters: “Sino-American Unicorn Lucky Mascot”,  followed by the inscription in English: “UNICORN”.

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