NGC Certifies Rare China 1989 Dragon and Phoenix Coins

Posted on 7/25/2019

The gold and silver coins were recently graded by NGC experts in Shanghai.

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) recently certified a silver and a gold example of the highly desirable China 1989 Dragon & Phoenix coins. The impressive pair of modern Chinese rarities was authenticated, graded and encapsulated at the office of NGC Shanghai Business Information Consulting Co, Ltd. (NGC Shanghai), the Chinese affiliate of NGC.

The two-ounce Gold 200 Yuan example is graded NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo, while the two-ounce Silver 20 Yuan example is graded NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo.

1989 Dragon & Phoenix Gold 200 Yuan, graded NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo.
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1989 Dragon & Phoenix Silver 20 Yuan, graded NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo.
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The Dragon & Phoenix design is considered particularly beautiful by Chinese numismatists. Its obverse shows the Great Wall of China and was designed and engraved by Zeng Chenghu and Li Xiaochuan. The reverse shows a dragon and a phoenix, two mythical creatures firmly ingrained in Chinese culture. The reverse was engraved by Zhao Xianming, who also engraved the famous 1991 5-kilogram gold coin celebrating the first 10 years of gold panda coins.

In Chinese culture, the dragon and phoenix have long been regarded as auspicious, noble and mysterious, and they are widely featured in a range of artforms, including coins. Along with the Panda and Lunar series, the Dragon & Phoenix coins are well known and highly respected in modern Chinese numismatics.

Fred Weinberg, a well-known American coin dealer and a distributor of the Dragon & Phoenix coins, was asked about these coins by one of the authors of the authoritative book “China Gold and Silver Standard Catalog 1979-2017.” Weinberg said the Dragon & Phoenix coins had initially been intended to be released in 1989, but their sale was delayed. Weinberg asked the mint to change the date to 1990, which they did.

Some coins had already been struck with the 1989 date, however, and while most were apparently melted, a small number were released to collectors. These 1989-dated examples are now quite rare and highly desirable.

The NGC Census (as of July 15, 2019) lists only 10 1989 Dragon & Phoenix Silver 20 Yuans compared to 844 of the 1990 version. The NGC Census contains only three 1989 Gold 200 Yuan compared to 261 of the 1990 version.

As one might expect, the 1989 versions carry a hefty numismatic premium. In fact, another example of the 1989 Dragon & Phoenix Gold 200 Yuan, also graded NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo, realized $408,000 at a Heritage Auctions sale in December 2017.

In addition to the two-ounce silver and gold variants, the Dragon & Phoenix coins were also issued in 20-ounce gold, 20-ounce silver, 1-gram gold and 2-gram silver versions.

"It is always exciting when we have the opportunity to see some exceedingly rare and beautiful coins," said Mark Salzberg, NGC Chairman & Grading Finalizer. "Now that they are certified by NGC, these important coins will be protected for future generations."

NGC, which was founded in 1987, has graded more than 44 million coins, including about 3 million from China.

NGC authenticates, grades and encapsulates coins on a full-time basis at its Shanghai office. All submissions should be made through an Official Submission Center in China. For more information, visit

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