The release of the Bronze Age Implements Series Three coin set (8th August 2014) is almost upon us, so now seems like a good time to take a brief look at the subject matter of these coins.
Series One and Two were issued in 2012 and 2013 respectively, and while Series One featured Bronze Age finds dating from the late Xia Dynasty (c. 1600 BC) to the mid-Shang Dynasty (c. 1400 BC), Series Two focused on late-Shang Dynasty (c. 1200 BC) finds from the Tomb of Fu Hao.
Series Three similarly revolves around finds from the Tomb of Fu Hao, but such is the variety and quality of the discoveries made there, that the designers of Series Three were – with the exception of the 5 oz gold coin of the set – able to produce four new equally impressive designs inspired by the tomb’s treasures.
The 5 oz gold coin of the set features the Queen Mother Wu sacrificial vessel, the largest piece of ancient bronze-ware ever discovered, which to me seems to be sufficient justification for the reusing of this design in all three of the Bronze Age Implements series. This magnificently decorated vessel was dug up in 1939 in Wuguan Village, Anyang, Henan Province. The other bronze-wares featured in Series Three were actually excavated from the Fu Hao Tomb itself, also in Wuguan Village, but the burial site was not discovered until 1976.
In the opinion of some Chinese, the design of this latest series is a skilful synthesis of both ancient and modern Chinese culture and ideology. In these coins, the designers have expertly captured both the mystery and intrigue of the Bronze Age, but at the same time have made these pieces appeal to a modern audience.