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VIP sets, coins & medals

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I have read about several VIP sets, coins & medals in the past.     This seems to be a segment of the market that is ignored but should have a big upside as the market matures.      VIP have low mintage. 
Do you know of any VIP sets, coins & medals?    Post info and photos.....

I have never seen a VIP set for sale at a coin show.  I have never owned a VIP coin, medal or set.  Obviously, I am not a VIP so one would never be offered to me.  Several of our members are important people in the world of modern Chinese coins.  Hopefully, they will share information about these sets with us. 

Mark Bonke

I am not a very important person in the world of modern Chinese coins, but:

I have seen in writing that at least some of the 1979 Gold Beijing scenery medals were intended as VIP gifts to diplomats, and that is one reason for the unmatched exquisite gold trim hand painted art boxes they came in. Designed to represent Beijing and China to the world and no expense was spared.

The only other boxes that I know of that even come close to suggest they might possibly be in the same category are for the 1980 hand engraved  brass Palace Lantern medals, but I haven’t seen anything in writing that says they were VIP gifts.

The early Great Wall medals are interesting.

There are probably others I can’t recall or don’t know about.

Expert Fwang2450 gave a good history here:,8001.msg46538.html#msg46538

“This is the first part of two of Hu's recount of how the panda gold coins came into being. It provides a lot of intereting behind-the-scene information from the days leading to the first launch of panda gold coins. The article is a bit long, and so I will post them in two parts.

By Hu Fuqing

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of panda gold coins. With the celebrations under way, the attention to panda gold coins will intensify. I would like to recount the early stories of the 20th century Chinese panda gold coins which I am aware of, hopefully to bring a historical perspective for the designers and manufacturers of Chinese panda gold coins, as well as for collectors.

The release of Chinese panda gold coins was a monumental moment, but before their release, what strenuous efforts were made by the government agencies without publicity? This is exactly what this article is about. Without the groundbreaking efforts, there would not have been any Chinese panda gold coins.


When the Great Cultural Revolution was brought to an end in Mainland China, the plan to mint commemorative coins ranked among the key technological programs of the Print Administration of the People's Bank of China (the predecessor of the current China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation). The details included:

1.   The designs would focus on significant and memorable events in China, such as portraits of the previous generation revolutionists and the historical sites where they engaged in revolutionary activities as well as their monuments; famous ancient and modern writers and scientists; and well-known historic buildings.

2.   Efforts would be made to research and improve artistic and technical expertise in the design, engraving and die making of commemorative coins, with the state of the art in the world as the goal – unique, exquisite, and graceful. The coins would have denominations on them, and the shape could be round or multi-sided.

3.   In terms of the material, research should be mostly done on coins of 99.9% gold and silver, in singles or sets.

4.   The design of the first pattern to be reviewed should have the completion of the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall as the theme; otherwise there would be no restrictions. The pattern must have the text "People's Republic of China" on it.

The leadership and the engineering and technical staff of the then Shanghai Mint (state owned Factory 614) responded with enthusiasm to the call from the leaders of the Printing Administration. The Party Committee decided to trial mint commemorative coins for the anniversary of Chairman Mao's death, called Product "990", which was to be completed by September 9, the first anniversary of Chairman Mao's death. Two teams were organized for this purpose: the first team was led by engineer Yan Yangsheng, with three assistants (Chen Fuquan, Yan Zhaolin Jin Huaqing). (Some text missing here- translator) based on the engraving from Birmingham Mint in England. The team lead was designer/engraver Luo Xingsha.

The Director of the Printing Administration at that time, Yang Bingchao, visited the Soviet Union, and brought back from Saint Petersburg Mint samples of the high relief Lenin commemorative medal. He called for honing of technical skills, to mint gift coins with portraits of the great leaders, and to engrave great Chinese leaders on the coins of RMB.

In order to hone the skills of engraving on coins, Mr. Zhu Dechun got in touch with Professor Zheng Ke of the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts, for him to give a training class on engraving, with the support of the leadership of the Printing Administration. Professor Zheng gave lectures in person, and coached trainees in making engravings.

I was lucky to be one of the formal trainees, thus witnessing the period  from the very start to official trial minting of commemorative coins by the coin minting industry. Shanghai Mint (state owned Factory 614) sent 6 designers/engravers to this important engraving training class, but the Shenyang Mint was absent due to some unknown reason. It was a regrettable decision, because they missed an excellent opportunity to improve engraving skills. During the training class, the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall was under intensive construction. The leadership of the Administration of the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and those of the construction companies all wished to mint a number of commemorative coins for the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. This idea struck home with Shanghai Mint's (state owned Factory 614) "990" project. A trial run was performed with success using Shanghai Mint's production line for Chairman Mao badges. The commemorative medals included the engravings of the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and Chairman Mao seated. On September 9, 1977, which was Chairman Mao's death anniversary, Shanghai Mint's 990 project produced designs on time. After careful engraving and technical adjustment, patterns were formally submitted to the Printing Administration on December 20, 1977.

People joked that the 1977 engraving training class was the "Huangpu Military Academy." There is some truth to it. Many key designers/engravers in the minting industry "graduated" from this training class.

High Level Decisions

Back in April 14, 1978, a team from Shanghai Mint went to the Printing Administration to report on the trial minting of Chinese commemorative coins. On the morning of April 17, Director Yang Bingchao advised that a meeting was to be held in the office of Geng Daoming, Vice Governor of the People's Bank of China. In addition to Vice Governor Geng and Director Yang, there were Zhu Dechun from the Technology Department of the Printing Administration, Wu Hanlu, a researcher from a related department, Director Qian Zhenlin of the Non-Commercial Department of the Foreign Bureau of the BOC, and Zhao Chengan, Vice Governor of Po Sang Bank in Hong Kong. Vice Governor Geng made it clear that Chinese commemorative coins were to be made, to assist in tourism for foreign visitors in an effort to promote China and to earn foreign exchange.

The purpose of the meeting was investigation and research, to fully assess domestic and international demands, and to study the report to be submitted to the State Council, based mainly on the briefings of Vice Governor of Po Sang Bank. Li Xiannian, Vice President of the PRC, also instructed the Governor of BOC, Li Baohua, to push for commemorative coins.

On the domestic front, the office of Liao Chengzhi in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called to ask whether the BOC could provide Chinese commemorative coins. At that time, a retired Defense Minister from Luxemburg was visiting China. He happened to be a seasoned coin collector, and was eager to obtain some Chinese commemorative coins. But there were no commemorative coins available either as gift or for purchase. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called Po Sang Bank in Hong Kong for commemorative coins, but Po Sang Bank had none either.

The Cultural Revolution had drawn to an end by then, and foreign interactions were picking up. Some patriotic overseas Chinese suggested, after they learned about this story upon visiting China, that they pay the cost and supply the gold for China to mint commemorative coins. They would bear all the costs, and split profits half-half with government agencies involved. Some foreign friends also made similar proposals, with design elements such as China's emblem and country name to be approved by China. They also wanted to bear all the costs and split sales profits half-half. Wuhan City had exported a batch of old gold coins. Their melt value would have been RMB80,000, but the sales revenue reached more than RMB400,000. Shanghai sold some banknotes from the Qing Dynasty as waste paper, but brought in RMB6,000 instead. All in all, the collection market was prospering with increasing stability in the country after the Cultural Revolution.

In view of all the facts above, Vice Governor of the BOC Geng Daoming made it clear that China would market its own commemorative coins. First, the design had to be highly artistic; secondly, the workmanship had to be superb; thirdly, the decorative accessories had to be beautiful. Vice Governor Geng also mentioned that three tons of gold would be allocated the next year (1979), and weight of the commemorative coins would be around 1/2 ounce. They had to be an instant hit.

However, the Chinese government banned Renminbi from export in the 70s of the last century. Even if the commemorative coins were made, whether they could be sold overseas was a big challenge. Despite all these uncertainties, the step had to be made. So a fool-proof plan was made: commemorative gold and silver medals would be made first, while commemorative gold and silver coins were also in preparation. Both series would be submitted to the State Council. If the medals were allowed to carry denominations, they would become commemorative coins. The commemorative medals would be minted to proof standards anyway, using the minting technology of commemorative coins. Denominations on the coins was another big policy issue. The BOC instructed departments involved to check the international market for all the details.

After the meeting chaired by Vice Governor Geng Daoming, Director Yang Bingchao of the Printing Administration called another meeting on April 19, 1978, to study the implementation of the plan. The participants were Qiu Weimin of the Production Department of the Printing Administration, Zhu Chunde of the Technology Department, Mr. Tang, engineer of the Construction Department, and Ye Bolin from Shanghai Mint (state owned Factory 614). The meeting designated the Department of Production as responsible for the project, assisted by the Department of Technology. On April 24, Ye Bolin returned to Shanghai, and reported the decisions of the two meetings to the factory's Party Committee and the Revolutionary Committee. The leadership immediately decided to take actions. After his briefing, several decisions were made at the meeting: re-allocate workspace, add equipment, reinforce staffing, assign duties, and specify responsibilities. The purpose was to straighten out the internal process within Factory 614 for smooth execution. The meeting took seriously the message from the April 17 meeting called by Vice Governer Geng, and tentatively decided on Beijing scenery as the theme for the commemorative medals. In the afternoon of May 30, Factory 614 called a meeting for design and engraving, followed by 8 more special meetings, to seek consensus, specify tasks and check the progress and quality of each task. 

It is no exaggeration to say that these concrete steps laid a solid foundation for the release of China's panda gold coins.


Wow!!!  Your post is wonderful!  The information is precious.

If I remember correctly, a 1.37oz gold medal was released in 1978 with the image of a running / flying horse on one side and flying women and bats / butterflies on the other side.  The wooden box was intricately carved and collectible.  Planned mintage was 780.  Actual mintage is unknown. This mintage was too high to be a VIP medal.  The edge was blossom shaped.  It commemorated an archaeological relic which was found in one of the dynasty tombs.

This gold medal and its release seem to be inconsistent with the information provided in your translation.  Are you aware of this early gold medal?  Are you aware of the mint which produced it?  Was it part of some early VIP program?

Mark Bonke 

Hong Kong Archaeological Finds 1978. Bats, Phoenix and Lotus. Nice carved box but a bit rough and doesn’t even come close to the fineness of the ornate 1979 Beijing Scenery Boxes.

I passed on this one each time it was available.
Not sure of mint anymore but based on previous account of China mint 1979 start, I recall believing this was not a official China Mint offering from Shanghai Mint.


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