About 5 oz Silver Panda Coins
Between 1987 and 1995, the China mint released a uniquely adorned 5 oz silver panda coin for each year. The coins released during these years are proof in quality, .999 in fineness and 70 millimeters in diameter. The 5 oz silver panda coins were suspended by the China Mint for 1996 until their re-release in 2003. Since the re-release of this series of coins, the coins produced have been considerably higher in number and are much more common. The 5 oz silver panda coins produced between 1987 and 1995 were released in lower numbers. For example, the mintage of the 1990 coin is 5,000, while the mintage of the 2004 coin is 10,000. All of these coins were originally released in display boxes and came with certificates denoting the proof quality and metallic specifications. Silver panda medals weighing 5 oz have also been produced, mostly for coin shows and expositions worldwide.
Each of the coins bears a delicately rendered scene of a panda or pandas on the reverse side of the coin. For example, the 1990 coin shows a peaceful scene in which one panda climbs a tree while the other panda playfully cavorts below. Bamboo, a feature common to many of the Chinese panda coins, sits at the base of the tree. On this side of the coin, one can see the face value, 50 yuan, as well as the metallic specifications of the coin, “contains .999 5 oz Ag.” On the obverse face, one can see the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, one of the main architectural accomplishments on display at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. This face of the coin shows the inscription “The People’s Republic of China” as well as the year of release.
The panda, still a protected and endangered species in China, is China’s national animal. Bamboo, while not China’s national plant, is emblematic of the country’s flora and makes up 99% of the panda’s diet. Though technically a carnivore who could dine on grubs and insects, the panda always chooses bamboo as its main source of nutrition. The panda is a rare and majestic beast and is beautifully and lovingly rendered on each of the panda coins — in gold, in silver or in the platinum metals. Specialized artists are responsible for making these lifelike portraits and collectors all over the world wait with bated breath to see which new design will be released. Coins like the 5 oz coin, being proof in quality, were struck multiple times during their creation. This gives the background a mirror-like finish and the embellishments a matte and almost three-dimensional quality. This makes the “white” portions of the panda’s fur stand out against the darker-appearing mirror-like surface. Pandas on the coin can be seen to have their distinctive “black and white” appearance, a nod to the panda’s symbolism of yin and yang.