China 1994 1/20 oz Gold Unicorn
5 Yuan Proof Coin
About the China 1994 1/20 oz Gold Unicorn 5 Yuan Proof Coin
This coin is a 1/20 ounce, 99.9% pure, gold unicorn coin with a legal tender face value of 5 yuan. It is one of thirteen coins produced in 1994 by the People’s Republic of China. In all, 31,100 of these 5 yuan coins were authorized for release. The coin is beautifully detailed and struck in proof quality. Fractional gold unicorns such as this one, were for the most part distributed in the United States in four and five coin proof sets. In Europe, it more common to see individual coins.
All of the coins in this series display two types of unicorns, one on each side of the coin. The front of the coin displays the Qilin, or Chinese unicorn, and the back of the coin is embellished with the Western, or European unicorn. The Qilin differs in appearance from the Western unicorn; it has the head of a Chinese dragon, the antlers of a deer, the scales of a fish, the hooves of an ox, and the tail of a lion. It was said that if the Qilin appeared to an emperor early in his reign, the country would experience a long period of peace and prosperity. The myth of the Qilin may have had its origins when the renowned eunuch admiral Zhenge imported the giraffe from Africa to China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The side of the coin featuring the Qilin is inscribed with Chinese characters that signify “The People’s Republic of China.” Just below these words, the image of a child riding the Qilin is embossed. The child is shown wearing traditional robes, and he carries three flowers in his raised right hand. The Qilin is poised above a puff of smoke. All of the coins, save two in the series, show this same image.
On the opposite side of the coin, the European unicorn is pictured as a white horse with a goat-like beard and a lion’s tail. The Western unicorn, with its origins in Greek mythology, is seen as a sign of majesty, plenty and purity. The unicorn’s horn was a highly sought after healing cure in the middle ages, as the unicorn was believed to be nearly impossible to catch. In the middle ages, the unicorn, along with the lion, was viewed as king of animal kind. On the coin, the unicorn’s majestic head is turned to display its spiraled horn. The unicorn in this image has one leg raised and is poised above a bed of flowers. 5 Yuan is printed to the left of the image of this unicorn, and “Sino-American Unicorn Lucky Mascot” is printed in Chinese characters on the top edge of the same side of the coin. “UNICORN” is printed in parentheses next to the Chinese lettering.