The 1982 12th FIFA World Cup
The ¼ oz gold piece is one of a four-coin set issued in 1982, comprising one gold, one copper, and two silver coins. They were issued as a commemorative set, celebrating the 1982 12th FIFA World Cup held in Spain between 13th June and 11th July. Italy emerged victorious over West Germany in the final with a 3-1 win. The theme was commemorated as a modern Chinese coin series despite the fact that China failed to qualify for the group stages.
A Curious Mistake
Since the inception of modern Chinese coins in 1979, the China Mint has produced many exquisite pieces that are considered by many to be works of art. However, this level of quality and craftsmanship was not achieved overnight – Rome was not built in a day! The 1982 12th FIFA World Cup ¼ oz gold coin is one such example of a coin type that fell through the quality control net, so to speak.
Throughout the history of modern Chinese coins there have been many error strikes, most of which will have been detected by the Mint early on in the production process and therefore not issued, making the error strikes true rarities. The 1982 12th FIFA World Cup ¼ oz gold coin is a curious piece in that it bears a glaring error in the inscription on the reverse face. With the quality control procedures and meticulous production process now practised today by the China Mint, such an error would be almost unheard of in the 21st Century.
The incorrect character is the final one of the reverse inscription, and should be 赛 sai4, meaning competition. This error really adds to the collector value of the coin, as it would be rare to have such a mistake on a coin issued nowadays. It is also curious that the mistake was not detected, and therefore the entire run of the series was issued with this mistake struck on the coin face, rather than the incorrectly struck coins being withdrawn and the dies corrected. This may have been for a number of reasons: the mistake may simply have not been picked up on until the coins had been issued; it might have been detected so late in the production process that it was deemed too costly to make the necessary changes; or perhaps the Mint hoped that the error would go unnoticed and they would avoid the embarrassment!
Specifications and Design
This ¼ oz proof gold coin, struck in 1982 at the Shanghai Mint, measures 22 mm in diameter and has a fineness of 91.6%. It has a face value of 200 yuan. An official mintage of 1500 was planned, but the actual mintage turned out to be only 1261.
The coins were designed primarily by two female contributors: Zhong Youqin – designer of the gold, silver and copper coins of the 1980 Winter Olympics and 1980 China Olympic Committee series; and Chen Yanyin – a leading female in the world of oil painting and sculpture in the PRC.
The obverse features the National Emblem of the PRC bordered by a floral motif. Below is the inscription of the PRC and the date, 1982.
The reverse shows a lifelike rendering of a footballer, depicted having just struck the ball. The details of the muscle fibres are intricately shown. Above the player’s right foot is the emblem of the 1982 World Cup: a football trailed by the Spanish flag, and the inscription: “España 82”. Below the player is the denomination, 200 yuan. At the top of the coin face is the erroneous inscription, which should read: “世界杯足球赛”, translating as Football World Cup.
The low mintage of this coin type and the curious mistake on the reverse face makes this a very valuable piece, numismatically speaking. This is well-demonstrated by the sale of two of these coins which went under the hammer in August 2011 at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio Hong Kong auction. The pieces, both grading well at NGC Proof 68 and Proof 69, fetched final values of $4000 USD and $6000 USD respectively.