Olympic Participation Medals and Show Pandas exemplify the spirit of friendship
By Peter Anthony – Numismatic Guaranty Corporation …….
One of the wonderful aspects of coin collecting is the opportunity to make new friends from around the world. Numismatics brings people from any and all cultures together. The recent ANA World’s Fair of Money convention in Anaheim was a perfect example. Not only did collectors and dealers attend, but there were some fascinating world coin exhibits.
For example, I learned about Olympic Participation Medals. These were distributed at every modern Olympic Game, including the 2008 games in Beijing. The exhibit described them as, “Olympic Participation Medals (OPMs) are sometimes referred to as the “other Olympic Medals”. Unlike the highly coveted winner’s medals, they are rarely if ever seen on television. However, since OPMs are awarded to all athletes, judges and officials, they exemplify the spirit of participation set forth by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games who told us, “The important thing in life is not victory, but struggle. The essential is not to have won, but to have fought well.”
Participation and friendship have also been celebrated in coins, medals and Show Pandas issued by China. This includes a 2016 Show Panda from the Shanghai Mint for the 2016 ANA Convention. It is not nearly as well-known as the 1 oz. gold and the 1 oz. and 12 oz. silver Show Pandas that were sold to the public in Anaheim, but it qualifies as a Show Panda, too. On one face it shares the same design as the gold and silver issues. The ANA logo is in the center surrounded by “125th Anniversary Anaheim 2016” in English and Chinese just inside the rim.
The other face of this Show Panda features a unique design. Like a mythological creature an eagle and Panda are merged into one. Below them sits the Great Wall of China together with palm trees, a common sight in Southern California. “Sino-American Friendship” is written in English and Chinese.
Sino-American Friendship was first celebrated on a Show Panda nearly 30 years earlier. In 1987, the 16th New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) offered 1 oz. gold and 1 oz. platinum Pandas on this theme. These two Shanghai Mint products have received extra attention in recent years because their design shows the Manhattan skyline with the Twin Towers. 2,000 gold and 1,000 of the platinum Show Pandas were struck.
That same year a 5 oz. silver Sino-American Friendship Show Panda was minted for the ANA convention in Atlanta. One year later, the 1988 New York International Coin Exposition offered a 1 oz. palladium Sino-American Friendship themed Show Panda. And that was the last Sino-American Friendship Panda until 2016. It is good to see old ties between numismatists renewed.
If you have the opportunity to visit any of the mints in China, you will find that the desire for friendship between China and the USA is very real there. It is nice to once again have a new Show Panda that expresses this mutual regard. We can all hope for more international cooperation and a bright numismatic future for both nations.
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Peter Anthony is an expert on Chinese modern coins with a particular focus on Panda coins. He is an analyst for the NGC Chinese Modern Coin Price Guide as well as a consultant on Chinese modern coins.
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