The “Possessing a Piece of the Homeland” (from now on referred to as the “Homeland”) set was a one-off commemorative set struck in 1993 consisting of 11 coins – 6 gold and 5 silver – with depictions of sacred religious mountaintop shrines, temples, and burial sites from ancient Chinese history.
Specifications: 5 oz Gold Coin
This is the largest gold coin issued as part of this set in both weight and denomination. The proof-quality piece has a face value of 500 yuan and was struck at the Shenyang Mint with a certified purity of 0.999. It has an impressive diameter of 60 mm, and contains 5 oz pure gold. While the officially planned mintage was just a handful at 99 pieces, 100 were in fact struck. Despite being one of the rare cases in which the actual mintage turned out to be greater than the planned mintage, 100 pieces still makes this coin a particularly elusive and scarce specimen.
Features and the Tomb of the Yellow Emperor
The obverse face features an image of the Great Wall, internationally an instantly recognisable symbol of China’s rich history and power. Above the image is the inscription of the People’s Republic of China: “中华人民共和国”. Below is the year of issue, 1993.
The reverse face is really quite fantastic, featuring a beautiful image of the tomb of the Yellow Emperor flanked by two cypress trees. The site is located on Mount Qiao, north of Yan’an in central China; an area of outstanding natural beauty measuring some 333 hectares and populated by several tens of thousands of cypress trees, many of which are over a thousand years old. The inscription beneath the image contains the denomination, 500 yuan; the characters: “黄帝陵 — 拥有一片故土” (Tomb of the Yellow Emperor – Possessing a Piece of the Homeland); and the specifications of the coin: “Au 5oz .999”.
The Yellow Emperor is one of the legendary Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors of ancient China, traditionally held in great esteem as the founding fathers of the Chinese nation and civilisation. Sources vary, but popular tradition holds that the Yellow Emperor ruled between 2698 – 2598 BC, ruling for 100 years before an encounter with a Qilin – a traditional Chinese unicorn – and a phoenix, and then dying.
Two tombs were built in the mausoleum complex, and have been visited by many emperors and notable figures throughout Chinese history, more recently including the likes of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Sun Yat-Sen. Reverent visitors made offerings and sacrifices at the site, with the earliest recorded offerings being made in 442 BC, although a formal shrine was not built on the site until over a thousand years later in 770 AD under the rule of Emperor Daizong of the Tang dynasty. Following the creation of the official shrine, the site became a formal location for national – not just private – sacrifices.
Over its long history, the shrine on top of Mount Qiao has been reconstructed several times, with the most recent restoration starting in 1993 and finishing in 2004. As a result, it is perhaps no coincidence that the Homeland set was issued in 1993, with the Tomb of the Yellow Emperor commemorated on the set’s flagship coin. Today national offerings are still made at the site on an annual basis – a testament to the significance with which the Yellow Emperor continues to be held in the Chinese psyche.
Value and Rarity
As the 5 oz gold Homeland coin has an extremely low mintage, these coins, as would be expected, are seldom seen for sale. Their rich cultural theme also makes them particularly sought after, again contributing to their lack of appearances at auction and the scant number of recorded trades. A record exists of a private deal that took place in August 2011, where a 5 oz gold Homeland coin was sold for $134,998, although the condition of the piece at the time of the trade is unknown. Up until April 2014, a coin of this type had not made another public appearance. However at that time, a piece graded PCGS PR66 Deep Cameo was sold by Heritage Auctioneers for $64,625 (including the buyer’s premium). Unfortunately for this piece, as is the case with many sizeable coins including the larger Panda coins, scratches are quite common in the large open areas on the coin faces, and this has been the main contributing factor to its given grade. Nonetheless, it is a very impressive piece, and a collectible of great cultural and historic significance in Chinese numismatics.