At the end of each year, the commemorative coin market will usher in a wave of upsurge. Souvenir coins, as a special form of legal tender, are used to commemorate some important events, important figures, landmark buildings and various scenic spots, plants and flowers in history. From the “six-character knife” coin of the State of Qi in the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States Period to the special-shaped coin inset with colored gems, the souvenir coin has gone through thousands of years of development and become a currency and cultural symbol with special significance.
China is one of the earliest countries in the world to use currency, with a history of five thousand years. The earliest coins in China can be traced back to the sea shell in the Shang and Zhou dynasties. It is not only used for market circulation, but also people’s favorite decorations, often used for gifts and rewards. Therefore, seashells actually have a commemorative nature of the function. The appearance of metal money began in the spring and autumn period and the Warring States Period. In the Song Dynasty, the theme of commemorative coins was slightly expanded. Some officials minted and issued some coins to celebrate the birthday of the emperor or members of the royal family. The cultural attributes of commemorative coins in this period have been expressed in more forms, including traditional Chinese meanings of celebration and blessing.
If commemorative coins in Chinese history were mainly to commemorate the founding of the country and celebrate the birthdays of royal relatives, then commemorative coins in the West are mainly to commemorate important people. Since ancient Chinese metal commemorative coins are mostly cast, while western metal commemorative coins are mostly made by pressing, complex patterns of gods, figures, animals and plants often appear on western commemorative coins.
The origin of western commemorative coins can be traced back to the 4th century BC. In an important battle, a Hebrew leader named Jonathan led his soldiers to the aid of Alexander the Great. As a token of gratitude, Alexander the Great rewarded Jonathan with a solid gold coin engraved with his face, much larger than the ordinary gold coin in circulation at the time. Later, the Emperors of Ancient Rome followed this practice and rewarded their subordinates with special coins much larger than normal for important events or coronations.
In recent years, with the continuous development of technology, elements such as NM, DNA and meteorites, which used to be out of reach, have all appeared on commemorative coins. With the continuous integration of high-tech technological means, the commercialization of commemorative coins is becoming more and more intense. Some foreign commemorative coins are combined with classic IP brands to put cartoon characters, classic products and classic movie and TV series characters on challenge coins custom design. For example, Disney Card image series commemorative coins, Ferrari sports car commemorative coins, minions’ commemorative coins and so on.
The small commemorative coins reflect the history, culture, art and scientific and technological level of a country, and open a window for people to understand the world. Perhaps this is why commemorative coins of various countries are still in a unique position at a time when the wave of cashless payment is sweeping the world.