Commemorative Panda medals celebrate 45 years of Sino-German friendship

In 2017, the People’s Republic of China and the Federal Republic of Germany celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations. Together with Michael Hans Chou (owner of Champion Leilo Co., Hong Kong), the auction house Künker took this as an occasion to initiate two medals of which the German version’s very first specimen was struck on June 30, 2017, in the presence of the Chinese ambassador.

What would the friendship between states be if it was not lived by people? Ulrich Künker, managing director of Künker, has been a good friend of Michael Hans Chou for years. Their personal friendship inspired the two of them to erect a numismatic monument to the friendship of their nations. And so the idea of a set of two Panda medals was born.

Both medals feature the same motif on the obverse. Each reverse has a different design, with China’s reverse created by Yu Min, and Germany’s by Heinz Hoyer and Sneschana Russewa-Hoyer. The German medal is produced by Staatliche Münze Berlin, which started operation as early as 1280; while the Chinese medal is produced by one of China’s leading private mints.

With the support of the minister counsellor for cultural affairs of the Chinese Embassy, the initiators received the approval of the Chinese Ministry of Culture to use the official logo of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Federal Republic of Germany.

Yu Min has designed more than 100 circulation and commemorative coins of the People’s Republic of China, including more than 40 Panda motifs. The talented engraver is highly esteemed not only in China but throughout the world. A recipient of the Krause Award for his life’s work as part of the COTY Ceremony early in 2017, he is the first Asian designer ever to be awarded this honor.

Heinz Hoyer, a 2016 Krause Award laureate, was the first German to receive the award. His name is familiar to all collectors of FRG and GDR coins, for he has designed more than 20 circulation and commemorative coins. The most famous and widespread of his works are the German 1- and 2-euro circulation coins, which, manufactured by the billions, are in use in the whole of Europe.

Yu Min designed the common obverse of the medal. At the center it features the logo of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Federal Republic of Germany; in the background are the Brandenburg Gate and the Great Wall of China, with the legend Sino-German Friendship below.

On the reverse of the Chinese version, a bear stands to the left, facing two pandas playing at the right and looking back at the bear, with a bamboo branch behind them. Below is the legend Chinesisch-Deutsche Freundschaft; at upper left, 中德友好; and at upper right, the metal, fineness, and weight, as Ag 999 1oz.

The German reverse features the Berlin Bear, at left, welcoming two pandas at the right with a bouquet of flowers. In the distance are several famous Berlin landmarks, including the Brandenburg Gate. The surrounding legend, in Chinese, English, and German, reads 中德友好 SINO-GERMAN FRIENDSHIP • CHINESISCH-DEUTSCHE FREUNDSCHAFT. in small letters below the bears is the fineness, metal, and weight, as 999 Silver and 1 oz, along with the logo of the Staatliche Münze Berlin.

On June 30, the first-strike ceremony of the German medal took place at the Staatliche Münze Berlin. Dr. Andreas Schikora, head of the Berlin Mint, hosted the well-attended event. Speakers were Chinese Ambassador Shi Mingde and Dr. Norbert Riedel, who represented the German government.

Aside from the official event, the two contemplated whether 50 years of Sino-German friendship in 2022 would not constitute the perfect opportunity to issue official commemorative coins of the People’s Republic of China and the FRG.

A short film with impressions from the event can be found at the Künker YouTube channel.

When the Chinese panda couple Meng Meng (梦梦) and Jiao Qing (娇庆) were officially handed over to the Berlin Zoo on July 5, 2017, everybody present at this ceremony (with Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel also expected to attend) received a set of Panda medals made from silver-plated brass. This version is not available for sale. However, the 1-ounce, .999 fine silver set of Panda medals, in a prestigious box accompanied by a certificate, can be purchased for €159 only through the Künker online shop ( The mintage amounts to 3,000 sets.

A Getty Images slideshow from the July 5 event:

Press release courtesy of Björn Schöpe.

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