The outbreak of protests in Tiananmen Square in China in 1989 was
felt in the coin hobby when some Chinese coins struck for U.S. sale
suddenly became politically undesirable in the United States because
of the crackdown.
Proof 1989 Dragon and Phoenix coins that had been prepared for
release were instead withdrawn and melted, according to Swiss
International Coin Auctions, Sincona Ag. Of the 2,538 gold and 7,328
silver coins originally minted, both in 2-ounce size, all but a few
examples were melted.
A pair of these 1989 coins highlighted Sincona’s auction No. 33 on
Oct. 25, during a week when it offered thousands of lots.
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The Proof 1989 Dragon and Phoenix 2-ounce gold 200-yuan coin
realized a hammer price of 105,000 Swiss francs (about $106,627 U.S.),
against an opening bid of 6,500 Swiss francs. The buyer’s fee ranges
from 18 to 20 percent, depending on bidding method, and an 8 percent
value-added tax applies to nongold lots.
The companion piece, offered in the next lot, was the 1989 Dragon
and Phoenix 2-ounce silver 20-yuan coin from the release. The silver
version was hammered for 55,000 Swiss francs ($55,329 U.S.), against
an opening bid of 800 Swiss francs.
Very few examples exist of the 1989 coins, which were “minted
privately on behalf of the Shenyang Mint,” according to the auction
house, but were virtually untouchable once the crackdown on protestors escalated.
The dies were remade with the date 1990, and the originally agreed
upon mintage — now with the year 1990 — was then produced.