By Huang Ruiyong, written in 2007
I like gold and silver coins from New China, almost to the degree of addiction.
have been collecting gold and silver coins for a few years. As my
collection grows and my coin knowledge is enriched, I have turned from
appreciating their looks to the study of their inner beauty such as the
technical process, culture and connotation. In my entire collection, the
series that filled me with all emotions and gave me the most anxiety
was the 1979 International Year of the Child commemorative coins.
Year of the Child commemorative coins were the masterpiece by Mr. Chen
Jian, which were warmly applauded by collectors as soon as they were
As the coins show two children watering a flower with
affection and love, they are commonly known as “flower-watering” gold
and silver coins. This series of coins is highly diversified: gold and
silver; normal and double thickness; proof and BU. It is very difficult
to collect the whole series, an absolute challenge to those who aim at
becoming serious collectors of Chinese gold and silver coins.
after a few years of relentless searching, and with strong support from
friends, I finally succeeded in bringing together the whole series of
flower-watering coins. Whenever I admire them under the light in the
midst of night, when all the human noise has subsided, I am still
overcome with a mixture of feelings: fulfillment, satisfaction and
excitement. Reflecting on the journey of collecting this series of
coins, each episode flashes back in vivid detail in my mind, like movie
montages. It looked like an easy step, but in fact was filled with
painful efforts, and, because of that, I will treasure this series of
gems more dearly.
Two years ago, I bought my first
flower-watering gold coin (the thin version) from the Lugong Market –
the biggest gold and silver coin market in China. After I brought this
gold coin back, I took my time to admire it, my heart filled with
delight. From that moment on, I embarked on my journey of searching for
flower-watering coins. I obtained the flower-watering silver coin at
Shenzhen Book Plaza. On South Yan’an Road in Hangzhou, I came across the
matte silver coin. Like college entrance exams, the journey of
collection is easy at first, followed by more arduous steps. After
collecting all the thin versions, I naturally turned my eyes to a higher
level – the piedfort coins.
However, it is easy to set a high
goal, and it is a totally different story trying to press forward. To
me, the piedfort coins in perfect condition were like “He learned that
on the sea were fairy mountains which now appeared, and then disappeared
amid the cloud”. (Translator: this is a line quoted from the ancient
Chinese poet Bai Juyi’s poem “The Everlasting Regret”.) I asked
numerous coin dealers. They all heard about them, but never saw one. I
asked numerous collector friends, who simply did not have a clue. But
“Man proposes God disposes”. One day I got a call from Zhang Xiaolong, a
master collector of sports coins, telling me that a piedfort gold coin
turned up surprisingly in Germany. After making a hurried price inquiry,
I asked him to grab it right away. The problem was that it was daytime
in China, and because of the time difference, the Germans should be in
their sleep, not a good time to make contacts. As soon as darkness fell,
I urged Xiaolong to make a call to Germany, only to be devastated by
tragic news, after all this anguish: during the few hours in between,
this coin was already on its way across the oceans to the Samba kingdom.
Overwhelmed with grief, I could only comfort myself with this thought: I
had not been destined yet to cross the path with the piedfort coin. If I
persisted with a strong yearning and will, I would finally succeed.
luck would have it, I happened to stroll to the booth of Hosane’s
German Office at the Beijing Coin Expo last year. The first few coins
that came in sight were the thin version of flower-watering silver coin
in OMP boxes. But there was another flower-watering silver coin at the
bottom, with its box unsealed. Its packaging looked totally different
from other flower-watering coins. “Is it a piedfort coin?” I suppressed
the ecstasy surging to my head, and asked the sales people to take all
the coins out. I was right! It was the piedfort coin that I had been
dreaming of all the time, and the condition was perfect. I was suddenly
struck with a revelation, and realized the beauty of Bai Juyi’s line:
Only after our repeated calls did she appear; her face still half
concealed behind a pipa. (Translator: this line was quoted from the
ancient Chinese poet Bai Juyi’s poem “The Pipa Tune”.)…
I felt a
little better after acquiring 4 out of the 5 coins. What I often did
when I got home was taking these 4 coins out, either admiring them from a
distance, or observing them in hand, with all my affection. But a
slight sense of sadness lingered in my mind all the time, a sadness akin
to “Once gone, the yellow crane will never revisit the earth; only
white clouds still float in vain from year to year”. (Translator: this
line was quoted from the ancient Chinese poet Cui Hao’s poem “The Yellow
Life is not unlike drama. When I was losing hope
for the gold piedfort coin, exciting news struck my ears like music from
Heaven. This time the help came from the top collector King Chan in
Hong Kong. He connected me to a professional coin dealer in Germany, who
had put in many years dealing in gold and silver coins from the PRC.
After numerous phone calls and email exchanges, this dealer was touched
by my persistence and sincerity, and granted my wish like a true
gentleman. The moment I took hold of the gold piedfort coin, a sense of
final achievement after years of pursuit surged through my mind. These
gold and silver coins nourished by friendship will definitely be
Although all the flower-watering coins were now in my
collection, I would never stop searching for knowledge about them. I got
in touch with the designer Master Chen Jian, who surprised me with a
great gift: the photo of the first Chinese Ambassador to the US Cai
Zemin and the former Secretary of State Kissinger attending the ceremony
of the first release of the Year of the Child commemorative coins. At
the ceremony, Ambassador Cai presented this set of coins as gift to Dr.
Kissinger. The host and guest were beaming with joy all over, an
excellent footnote to the “gold and silver coin diplomacy”.
addition, I collected flower-watering coins with different packaging and
COAs. As this series was part of the United Nations project of Year of
the Child commemorative coins, and with the US company Paramount as the
distributor of the matte silver coins, packing boxes and COAs sold to
different parts of the world came in various forms; they were gorgeous
and colorful. Just one example: a violet colored velvet box covered
under smooth velvet and housed in a violet paper box, graceful and
majestic. When the box is opened, a thin version of the silver coin
first comes in sight, its silvery gleam contrasting and complementing
nicely with the box. When the silver coin is removed, another cell
appears underneath to the surprise of the viewer, which just has enough
room for a gold coin, its golden sparkle tantalizing our visual sense.
With such an intricate design of double cells, the designers have
succeeded in overwhelming us with their ingenuity. We are left with
admiration for the superior starting point of the gold and silver coins
of our country.
27 years is a flick of fingers. In the meantime,
the gold and silver coins of the PRC are just entering a booming time.
“I was here with a throng of companions; vivid yet those crowded months
and years. Young we were, schoolmates, at life's full flowering!”
(Translator: these lines were quoted from Mao Zedong’ s poem
“Changsha”.) There is no doubt that the Chinese gold and silver coins
in their prime time will leave everlasting impressions on many people.
As one of the many collectors of Chinese gold and silver coins, I will
pick such a little memory, and nourish it carefully with love. It will
bloom with ever-growing brilliance, like the little flower under
meticulous care on the flower-watering coins.