1989 Dragon and Phoenix Commemorative Coin

Posted on 3/10/2016

The 1989 Dragon and Phoenix series of commemorative coins were distributed in 1990 by Fred Weinberg.

Last summer, I went to the States with the purpose of gathering new materials for my book and to attend the World’s Fair of Money held by American Numismatic Association (ANA) in Chicago. I took this chance to visit Mr. Fred Weinberg, who was the sole distributor of 1989 Dragon and Phoenix commemorative coins when they were originally released.

Mr. Weinberg is a renowned mint error specialist and is a respected dealer as well. Back in the 1980s and 1990s he was a vibrant distributor in modern Chinese gold and silver coins. He helped distribute some of the most popular commemorative series of the time including the Dragon and Phoenix coins, Phoenix series and Children’s Playing series.

Mr. Weinberg went to Beijing in early 1989, and established an agreement with the Chinese Mint that he would be the sole distributor of the Dragon and Phoenix commemorative coins. The coins were scheduled to be delivered in the latter half of that year. But due to political incidents, the Chinese Mint expressed concern about a possible delay in delivery. Understanding its difficulty in keeping time, Mr. Weinberg agreed to the new schedule. Later however, he proposed to change the coin date to 1990, which would facilitate him in selling them as newly released pieces in the coming year.

The Chinese Mint ultimately made the deadline and struck the coin with the date 1990 as requested. According to Mr. Weinberg recollections, he was not aware of the fact that some 1989-dated coins were included with his shipment. However, it was only until his supply was dwindling that Weinberg noticed the discrepancy. Based on his estimation, the mint likely only struck a handful of Dragon and Phoenix coins dated 1989 immediately after receiving his order. Some of these coins were then erroneously included in the shipment sent to Weinberg.

Click images to enlarge.

Thus far, only the 2-ounce gold 200 Yuan and 2-ounce silver 20 Yuan coins have been found in any quantity with the date 1989. In addition to those sent to Weinberg, 1989-dated coins are rumored to have been secretly circulated in China and a few collectors were able to purchase them in Beijing. Around a decade ago, a set of the gold and silver 2-ounce 1989-dated coins were sold for more than HK$40,000 at a Taiwan, Province of China auction. Within the last 4 to 5 years, a 1989-dated 2 gram silver ½ Yuan example surfaced and sold for more than HK$700,000! Clearly, these rare 1989-dated coins are in high demand!

According to A Currency Catalogue of the People's Republic of China, which was published in 1993 and edited by the Currency Issue Department at People’s Bank of China, the Dragon and Phoenix coin was noted as struck in 1989. It indicated that such coins with different dates were issued consecutively. Nevertheless, the 1990 dated coin was not in fact included in this book.

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