China 1996 5 oz Gold Unicorn
500 Yuan Proof Coin
About the China 1996 5 oz Gold Unicorn 500 Yuan Proof Coin
The coin pictured above is one of fifteen 1996 unicorn coins. The mint issued unicorn coins between 1994 and 1997. Of the fifteen coins issued in 1996, eight are gold, four are silver, and three are platinum. The reverse of the coins in this series show images of various traditional western unicorns.
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 a Qilin or traditional Chinese unicorn, below which is the year of issue, 1996. The Qilin is shown stood poised over two plumes of smoke. The Chinese characters for “Qilin” are inscribed to the left of the image. A traditional symbol of prosperity and longevity in Chinese culture, the Qilin is a magical creature having the head of a dragon, the antlers of a deer, the skin of a fish, the tail of a lion, and cloven hooves. Fire engulfs its body, particularly its head. It may look fearsome, but the Qilin is for the most part a peaceful beast and only punishes wrongdoers. Qilin are revered by the Chinese, culturally ranking in importance behind only the dragon and the phoenix. This is the 500 yuan, 5 oz gold coin of the series issued in 1996. It is a proof coin of 99.9% purity with a diameter of 60mm. It has a mintage of 108. The 5 oz gold unicorn coins were only produced during the first three years of issuance of unicorn coins, making them particularly sought after by collectors.
The reverse of the coin displays an image of a traditional western unicorn rearing up on its hind legs. The image is surrounded by a ring of flowers all round the edge of the coin face. The western unicorn is a sign of grace and purity, and is traditionally shown as a white horse with a single spiralled horn. It was especially revered and respected by Medieval European alchemists who thought the unicorn's horn had healing properties. The denomination is inscribed below and to the left of the image. There is an inscription in Chinese characters to the right of the image. It reads: “Lucky Mascot Unicorn”, followed by an inscription in English: “UNICORN”.