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Author Topic: Communist China Fen Patterns  (Read 2079 times)

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Offline SquareEarth

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Communist China Fen Patterns
« on: October 11, 2013, 06:31:53 PM »
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, fen was still a "meaningful" unit, and even in the 1990s, they were still around even though they couldn't buy anything.

Right from the beginning when the fen coins were launched in the 1950s, till they're demonetized in the 2000s, there were no change in their design(as shown below).


But there were patterns.

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Offline SquareEarth

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1969 Cultural Revolution set
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2013, 06:38:33 PM »
The 1969 set showed three historical symbols of the communist revolution: 

the Jinggang Mountains,


 the city of Yan'an,


and the gate of Heavenly Peace. (This coin looks similar to one of my childhood sketches, minus the sunflower and the flags, but including the sun as a backdrop of the Gate. But my gate was more stylized. And my sun symbolized youthfulness, this sun stood for invincible Maoism)


There was another set portraying Mao, but the picture was blur (and the design too cheesy), so I do not bother to show them here(link is given below)
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 07:59:36 PM by Niels »
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Offline SquareEarth

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1975 "Industrial" Set
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2013, 06:47:23 PM »
Another far more interesting set is this:


1 Fen: rice and hydroelectric dam(?)
2 Fen: cotton(?) and a steel factory(?)
5 Fen: wheat and a tractor

I suspect the set was designed in a later date (1977-1979) after Mao's death, because it carried a very developmentalist message, and the factory for 2 fen might be Baosteel.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 07:55:48 PM by Niels »
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Offline SquareEarth

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My favourite set
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2013, 06:58:03 PM »
Another 1975 Set


1 Fen: A child nurturing a plant
2 Fen: A peasant woman carrying a rice bundle
5 Fen: A male steel worker

I suspect eastern European influence to the designer, and the tranquil posture of the people featured on the coin (the lack of fanaticism) strongly hints that this was a post Mao design despite the date.
(Did the designer rip off West Germany's 50 Pfennig when he sketched 1 Fen?)


The reverse side of the design.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 07:55:13 PM by Niels »
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Offline SquareEarth

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Re: Communist China Fen Patterns
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2013, 07:05:37 PM »
Any comment is welcome.
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Communist China Fen Patterns
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2013, 08:20:43 PM »
Excellent and very interesting show SquareEarth. A major challenge for the designers must have been the size of the coins. It is difficult to get meaningful detail on such a small surface. Even if they are successfully transferred to the coin (remember that 1975 was Before Computers), people may not even see them.

I share your suspicion that the 1975 set was not designed in China. The symbolism (man-industry, woman-agriculture, child-play) looks logical, but un-Chinese and somewhat too politically neutral. However, at the time, China did not have good relations with the Soviet block. Only Albania was on a friendly level. Economic decisions were taken in the framework of the political imperative and the GDR was a loyal vassal of the Soviets. Since China has its own coining capacity, I would expect that an order abroad could only have a purpose of competition with the Soviet Union. That doesn't categorically exclude the Berlin mint, but there are other possibilities. Cuba may be one. Chile's Allende was killed in 1973, but the date on the coin may not reflect reality.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline SquareEarth

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Re: Communist China Fen Patterns
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2013, 11:54:20 PM »
A major challenge for the designers must have been the size of the coins. It is difficult to get meaningful detail on such a small surface. Even if they are successfully transferred to the coin (remember that 1975 was Before Computers), people may not even see them.
An abstract or stylized design would be the way out, unless you use brass or nickle for small coins, then you can afford more intricate designs. (too expensive as far as 1970s China was concerned).

I share your suspicion that the 1975 set was not designed in China. The symbolism (man-industry, woman-agriculture, child-play) looks logical, but un-Chinese and somewhat too politically neutral....but the date on the coin may not reflect reality.
Things make more sense if the set was designed much later, because themes like these are repeated in later propaganda. Party artists are more exposed to foreign art than commoners, that may explain the foreign look of the designs. And the themes chosen are in line with Post-Mao era ideology: workers and peasants is a break from Mao cult, and the child watering a plant symbolizes the Deng's emphasis on "future".

This poster was made in 1983.

« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 07:54:27 PM by Niels »
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Communist China Fen Patterns
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2013, 07:24:20 PM »
I was the China guy in the ministry of economic affairs of the Netherlands in the early seventies. Abstract art is a nono for "socialist art". Stylised symbols and idealised humans are OK, but not stylised humans. What bothers me in the sexist division of labour on these coins is that at the time, the Chinese were eager to be seen as promoting equal "opportunities" for men and women. The actually liked the female factory worker/tractor driver theme. Also, I would have expected a smiling soldier somewhere in this series.

The clothes look fine for 1975, baggy and based on the Mao suit, green or blue, cloth shoes. The themes of steel making and growing more rice are spot on for 1975 also, but your poster makes an excellent point too. The hair style of the child on the coin is odd, though. The girl's nose looks a bit too prominent for a Chinese child, but that can be my imagination. The man's collar looks unconventional. I think late seventies would be a distinct possibility, but 1983 sounds a bit late. Nevertheless, Chile is out, I think.

It struck me as odd that the denomination in Chinese does not use Chinese numerals.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.