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4 Piece Gold Proof Set: Bronze Age Finds

By Chris Chatigny, Cataloger

Author: Chris Chatigny / Friday, April 12, 2013 / Categories: Crossing the Block
With the recent conclusion of the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio April Hong Kong Auction, attention is now focused on the upcoming August Hong Kong auction. This week’s feature is a four piece Gold proof set that evokes China’s rich history. Archaeological finds from the Bronze Age provide the subject for this fascinating proof coin set. The obverse design for this set displays the People’s Republic of China national emblem above a Chinese inscription explaining the subject as “Chinese Bronze Age Finds.” The final portion of the obverse design is the date of issue for this proof set, 1981. Each coin in the set features a different reverse depiction of an archaeological find.

The 800 Yuan piece is the largest denomination of the set, and the largest piece at 32 mm, one-ounce gold. The object shown is a ceremonial wine vessel shaped like an elephant. This ornate piece is covered with various drawings of animals and mystical beasts. The archaeological pieces that this coin emulates are from the fifteenth to eleventh century B.C., from the Shang and Zhou Dynasties. These elephant wine vessels are considered the most elegant bronze objects from the Shang Dynasty and provide an impressive start to this four piece proof set.

Next up is the half ounce gold piece, 400 Yuan denomination, which has a diameter of 27 mm. The reverse design for this piece is also a decorative wine vessel modeled after the Sumatran Rhinoceros. The archaeological piece is entirely covered in a gold and silver thread inlay cloud pattern. The upper legend displays the time period for this piece, the Warring States Period (475 to 221 B.C.). The detailed pattern on the Rhinoceros is incredible when viewed closely.

The next two pieces of this proof set are each one quarter ounce gold coins with a diameter of 22 mm and a denomination of 200 Yuan. Both of these reverse designs are modeled after decorative statues from the Western Han Dynasty (fourth to second century B.C.). The first object depicted is a “Winged Beast” which looks very similar to a western style dragon. The Bronze Age object it was designed after was decorated with a cloud pattern of silver thread inlaid, similar to the Rhinoceros piece. The final reverse design depicts a statuette of a Spotted Leopard with jewel encrusted eyes and the spots on the leopard created with a gold and silver thread inlay. The Leopard statuette was small, and researchers believe it was primarily used as a paperweight.

These four proofs are all PCGS Certified and come complete with their original case and their Certificate of Authenticity # 00221. Of the 1,000 sets authorized, reportedly only 200 were actually released. These collectible pieces display China’s rich history and combine the Bronze Age legacy with modern gold collectibles.

Look for this and other Asian numismatic rarities in our upcoming August Hong Kong Sale. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this August at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine California. For details please refer to the Auction Schedule/Details link under Current Auctions at www.StacksBowers.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 800.566.2580.