In preparation for the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio August Hong Kong auction, this week we offer a preview of a limited mintage Chinese gold medal. This piece commemorates the birth of the founder of modern Communist China, Mao Zhedong. Mao’s path to the premiership of the modern Chinese state was long and rocky. He is widely applauded for dragging China from a feudal subjugated state and into a modern world power. However, the cost in human lives to achieve this severely tarnished his memory in China and around the world. The Chinese government has released a semi-official line referring to Mao’s troubled legacy saying that he was: “70% right and 30% wrong.” Mao is still widely respected within mainland China, with memorials erected, including statues, a mausoleum, and enormous portraits throughout the country. China also commemorates this important life through coins and medals. The year 1993 marked the 100th anniversary of Mao’s birth, and the official mint in Shanghai released various designs and denominations to celebrate the founder of their Communist state.
Various designs, portraits, and denominations were used, with different mintages for each. The largest piece also correlates with the lowest mintage, as befits its value. This piece is a five ounce gold medal with no assigned denomination and with a mintage of only 99 pieces. The portrait used for this particular medal is an older one, around the 1960s. It features Mao wearing his iconic overcoat, and his familiar hairstyle. The Chinese legend on the upper portion of the piece reads: “Centenary of the Birth of Mao Zedong” and below the dates “1893 – 1993” are shown. The reverse is equally as impressive as the portrait, and features the childhood home of Mao.
The early years of Mao molded the ideals that would come to define him. Mao developed a political consciousness during his early schooling, which would be the foundation for his political movements. Mao was born in 1893 in a rural village called Shaoshan, in the province of Hunan. This agricultural community is depicted idyllically, complete with mountains and trees behind the housing unit. The path leading up to the house features a pond and brick wall. The childhood home of Mao has now become a local attraction dedicated to his early years. The reverse features an upper inscription describing the size, weight, and metal content of this five ounce gold medal. Situated at the bottom of the reverse is the Chinese legend: “The People’s Republic of China.” This specific medal is number 39 from the mintages of 99. The original mint issue commemorative case is included. This piece is PCGS certified Proof 63, and the certificate of authenticity from the Shanghai mint is included inside the PCGS holder. This proof medallion exhibits a deep cameo, and the sheer size of the piece allows for a high level of detail in the designs. This piece is certain to fetch a premium when it crosses the auction block this August.
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.