Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Feng Yunming and Early Semi-Official Medals

Before China Mint, some commemorative medals were made by the Beijing Radio Instrument Factory and distributed by the China National Arts&Crafts Co. and Guangzhou Zhenyi Co., Ltd. (mainly to Hong Kong). There are different names for these early medals"prehistoric" medals, early privately minted medals and early semi-official medals. Following Huang Ruiyong, I will use "early semi-official medals" because these medals were minted for official occasions. This post is intended to help collectors identify them when they turn up on the market. Data in this post are taken from Feng Jingjing's post ( and Yu Fuhui's post ( I am just summarizing their findings.

When China was opening up right after the Cultural Revolution, the need came up to issue commemorative medals for some important events, such as the first Exhibition of Archaeological Finds of the People's Republic of China in Hong Kong in 1979 and the Exhibition of Chinese Painting in Hong Kong in the same year. Feng Yunming, who graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts and had been a jewelry designer, lecturer and business manager, was entrusted with designing these early medals. He lived up to the trust. The medals he designed proved to be very popular and often sold out quickly as reported by the media. For their success, Mr. Feng is regarded as the pioneer in medal designing in the PRC. Later on, when China Mint started to mint commemorative coins and medals, these semi-official medals were gradually phased out.

The collectability of such early semi-official medals is still an open question. Top MCC collectors and dealers value them as an important (though short) episode in the history of modern Chinese numismatics. Many of Feng's medals have made it to the medal star list by Huang Ruiyong, as listed below. Yet average collectors simply ignore them because of their "semi-official" status (not from the state-run mints) and their less than perfect design and striking quality, as compared with the later China Mint releases. Another interesting fact is that despite their not-so-small mintage, they are hardly available on the market. Their investment potential is unknown at the moment as there is little sales data available.

Mr. Feng Yunming

Gold medal for the Exhibition of Archaeological Finds in Hong Kong 
(based on the Horse Treading on a Flying Swallow bronze statue, a national treasure. See discussions here:
Mintage: 780
Ranking: 4 stars

Silver medal set for the Exhibition of Archaeological Finds in Hong Kong
Ranking: 3 stars

Lu Xun medal set with amazing boxes
Ranking: gold – 4 stars; silver – 3 stars

Silver medal set for the Chinese Painting Exhibition in Hong Kong
Mintage: 3,000
Ranking: 2 stars

Purchase coupon:

Silver medal set for flight between Hong Kong and Shanghai/Hangzhou
Ranking: 3 stars

Gold medal for flight between Hong Kong and Beijing
Mintage: ?
Ranking: 3 stars

Gold medal for the 70th Anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution
Mintage: 6,000
Ranking: 3 stars
(Picture unavailable)

Silver medal for the 70th Anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution
Mintage: 15,000
Ranking: 3 stars

Silver medal for restoration of Sino-American diplomatic relations
Mintage: 2500
Ranking: 3.5 stars

Mr. Feng's recent work, commemorating the Chinese painting master Qi Baishi:

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