1988 Winter Olympics 5 Yuan Proof Featuring Downhill Skier

This past week the Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio office in California has been buzzing with activity as our completed catalogs for the August Hong Kong auction were sent out for our clients’ perusal. Like our previous Hong Kong sale we present three separate catalogs representing the three general areas of interest. Within the Modern Coins catalog we offer lots from all of the major series minted since the 1970s including the popular Olympics commemoratives. The rarest piece we offer from this series is Lot 52497, a 1988 Winter Olympics 5 Yuan Proof featuring a Downhill Skier. What makes this piece more special is that it is one of the few modern Chinese coin types to have a matte finish applied during the minting process. This rare finish is obtained by preparing the dies with a method akin to sandblasting and then striking the coin at a slower speed but under higher pressure. The end result is a beautiful satiny appearance that, due to the slow speed/high pressure strike, gives even more exquisite detail than normal proofs.

Our catalog presents other types with this special finish, namely the 1979 Year of the Child 35 Yuan, the 1984 Olympics Volleyball 10 Yuan and the 1986 World Cup Soccer 5 Yuan, but the downhill skier surpasses all of these in rarity. Each of these three types had a special mintage of 1,000 pieces struck using the special matte finish process, however the Downhill Skier type is believed to only have had about 20 pieces struck as patterns with an estimated 15 pieces still in existence. To put this type’s rarity into perspective, recently another numismatist and I were chatting with some acquaintances with decades of experience in the field of Chinese modern coinage. When we mentioned this piece neither of them could recall having ever seen one or having heard of one for sale and both were eager to see what it brought in the sale.

With only a few weeks to go before our sale, excitement and interest are building at a thrilling pace. Catalogs are arriving to mailboxes and the entire sale can be viewed at so be sure to take a peek at this modern rarity. With its gorgeous satin finish and near perfect appearance it is absolutely deserving of its grade of PCGS PROOF-69 and would be a handsome addition to any modern collection.

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