China 1995 1/2 oz Gold Unicorn
50 Yuan Proof Coin
About the China 1995 1/2 oz Gold Unicorn 50 Yuan Proof Coin
This is a half-ounce, 99.9% pure, gold Chinese unicorn coin minted in 1995. Each of these coins bears the face value of 50 yuan. The China Mint authorized twelve unique unicorn coins for release in 1995. In that year, 2000 of the half-ounce, 50 yuan gold coins were issued for export. Like all of the gold coins in this series, each of these coins features slightly raised embellishments against a mirror-like background. This appearance owes to the proof quality in which the coins were struck.
The coins in this series, save the bimetallic coin, all depict both the Eastern unicorn, or Qilin, and the Western unicorn. The decorations on these coins demonstrate the association between these two creatures, although the mythology and the appearance of these two imagined beasts are disparate. The coins do demonstrate the difference in appearance: the Qilin appears as a dragon-like creature with its mane aflame and its fierce maw caught in a roar. The coin shows the Qilin kicking its front hooves through a cloud of smoke, rearing back as if to attack. Above the Qilin are the words, “The People’s Republic of China,” and next to it on the right side, are the characters for “Qilin.” Though its appearance is mighty, the Qilin was reputed to be a kind and noble animal. A sighting of the Qilin was thought to prophesy the reign of a righteous and just ruler.
On the reverse of the coin appear two unicorns, a parent and its foal. The mare attends to her gently sleeping foal, curled at her front feet. Each unicorn displays its prominent spiraled horn and goat-like beard. Next to the unicorns on the left side of the coin appears the denomination the coin possesses: 50 yuan. Above the unicorns is written, “Sino-American Unicorn Lucky Mascot” in Chinese characters. Next to the characters is the translation: “UNICORN.” Unicorns were revered for their magical powers during Europe’s middle ages. The substance of the spiraled horn, alicorn, was thought to prevent sickness and counteract poisons. The unicorn itself was known to be very difficult to catch. The hunter of the unicorn often attempted to catch the unicorn with the help of a virgin maiden. The unicorn’s fondness for maidens was overwhelming to the beast, and it was said that a unicorn would rest its head on the lap of a maiden and fall asleep immediately. This would enable the crafty hunter to ensnare the rare beast and sell its wares. The symbolism of virginity led the unicorn to be placed in many medieval and Renaissance religious works of art.