It is October 10, 2020 on the outskirts of Shenzhen, China. One-by-one the guests arrive and are admitted through the main gate and past the guardhouse of the Shenzhen Guobao Mint. Slowly, their cars drive past the airport terminal-size building mint and pull up to the mint entrance. The camera crews are already set up inside. This is a very special moment; today the 2021 Panda coin design will be revealed.
This is the second time that the Panda coin design reveal ceremony will not be in Beijing. The ceremony originally coincided with the annual Beijing International Coin Expo each October. Last year, however, that show was moved back on the calendar to mid-November and the “Panda Reveal” became its own event. It was held at China Gold Coin’s premier coin-production facility, the Shenzhen Guobao Mint Co., Ltd. This year it will again take place in Shenzhen.
A Special Ceremony for a Special Coin
Nearly 60 guests, officials and news media representatives attend the opening ceremony. Mr. Yan Xing, the general manager for Cultural Communications of China Gold Coin Corporation presides. Mr. Chen Chunyu, Chairman of Shanghai Gold Coin Investment Co., Ltd. speaks and is followed by Mr. Liu Xinghai, Chairman of Shenzhen Guobao Mint Co., Ltd. He introduces the 2021 panda coins design to the meeting. Then comes a presentation by Yang Yu, assistant to the general manager of the production management department of China Gold Coin and then Mr. Kuang Guanqi, general manager of Shenzhen Guobao Mint Co., Ltd. accepts the signature manuscript from the coin designer Ms. Tong Fang.
What the Designer Wants to Express with This Coin
Ms. Tong talks about the creation and significance of the 2021 Panda coins. Later she was kind enough to offer some of her thoughts about this year’s edition of the popular coins.
P.A.: The 2021 Panda coin is the third part of a series of ten coins that tell a complete tale. How is that developing?
T.F.: The 2019 version began the story. It was called ‘Newborn Love,’ and shows a scene where the baby panda is held in the arms of his mother. That year marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and this newborn baby panda also represents each of us growing up happily in the embrace of our motherland. In the 2020 Panda coin, designed by Ms. Song Lina, the baby panda has grown up a bit and now munches bamboo leaves peacefully. This suggests that the baby has taken his first step into a good life. Now in 2021, the baby panda has grown up still more. His limbs get stronger and stronger. It is time for the baby to climb. The mother Panda’s role as a teacher is a vital one to protect her child. My focus here is on the way the two pandas look at each other. Tree climbing is an important skill for pandas. The 2021 Panda coin shows his mother teaching him how to climb a Tianzhu Cinnamon Tree. ‘Climb the peak bravely and take advantage of the momentum,’ she instructs the cub. This coin expresses the greatness of maternal love.
P.A.: Once, at a panda reserve, I saw a three-legged panda. It had been badly injured in a fight with a wild animal in the forest and some people found it barely alive. It was brought to the reserve and nursed back to health, but one limb was lost. The world is dangerous!
T.F.: Yes, the tiger and leopard are very dangerous predators, especially for cubs. So, the mother must teach the cub how to climb trees to protect himself – a step toward his future independence. The cub’s eyes are a little frightened, but he must climb up. Mom’s eyes are gentle, yet firm. Really, it’s like every one of us who have been watching our child’s back.
P.A.: What is your process to create the coin we see now?
T.F.: Whenever I travel, I visit the local zoo, or wildlife refuge. I study the pandas there and make sketches. It is not good if the panda is represented as listless. For the artist, it is through paper and pen, through our own thinking and understanding, that we put life and spirit into designs. The drawing, though, is only the beginning of the coin design process. The design must merge several different objects and concepts harmoniously. In this design I use the golden spiral as an invisible guide to establish the placement and relationships between the visual elements. As artists, we really don’t know what the final result will be. There’s a saying, ‘Guess the beginning, but not the end.’ That’s how it is with coins. The engraver must interpret the sketch. This time the actual coins definitely look different than how I imagined, but I am very happy with the outcome. The engraver has done outstanding work to depict the panda’s fur, the mottled texture of the tree trunk, the scattered leaves, the balance between frosted and mirrored areas and the overall composition. 2021 is a special year for the Panda coin series. This is its 40th year. I hope that all collectors will cherish the new coins and find in the design something to stir their emotions and touch the soft part of the heart.
The official release of the 2021 Panda coins happened at a Panda Launch event on October 30 in the city of Ya’an in Sichuan province, China. The mintages for the 2021 Panda coins have not yet been announced by China Gold Coin Corporation.
Peter Anthony is an expert on Chinese and Panda coins, here you can find his Who’s Who.
And for more information about China’s Panda coins, visit his website “Pandacollector”!
In our Cosmos of Collectibles database you will find other collector coins from China.