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Attractive Chekiang Sino-French Pattern Cash

This week’s highlight from our March 25-28, 2019, Hong
Kong auction, held at the Mira Hotel in conjunction with the 6th Hong
Kong Coin Show (HKCS), is a rare occurrence of Chinese and French cooperation
in numismatics

Lot # 60104 – CHINA. Chekiang. Brass Cash Pattern, ND (1862-75). PCGS SP-64+ Gold Shield.

In an attempt to become more familiar with Western
culture and industry, Chinese envoys were sent abroad to study and report their
findings.  The first semi-official visit of a Mandarin, a Chinese
official, to Europe wasn’t until 1866 when prompted by the Inspector General of
the Chinese Customs, Sir Robert Hart, who was returning to Ireland on
leave.  Expressing his concerns about the Chinese government’s
lackadaisical approach to modernization, Sir Hart proposed to have a Chinese
envoy accompany him on his voyage.  The envoy was headed by the elderly,
bigoted and low-ranking Chinese Secretary of the Imperial Maritime Customs
(third grade), Pin Ch’un, who was accompanied by his son and three language
students, but was not given an official status.  After arriving in
Marseilles they embarked on an intensive tour of factories and
institutions.  When they arrived in Paris, Pin Ch’un had grown weary of
the formalities, declared himself indisposed on 12 May 1866, and left his
duties, which included a visit to the Paris mint, to his companions. 
According to Richard Wright, author of The Modern Coinage of China
1866-1949
, it is believed that on this occasion, these special Chekiang
patterns were prepared and handed out as samples to the visiting Chinese envoy.
At the time of publishing it was believed that only three examples were known,
possibly making the present example a discovery piece. Unfortunately due to
lack of official documentation from Paris mint records, the actual date of
manufacture is unclear and remains shrouded in mystery.

 

These specially prepared pieces resemble later machine
struck cash with the exception of having a round central hole versus a square
central hole. The obverse and reverse inscriptions were clearly done by an
engraver unfamiliar with Chinese or Manchu characters. In fact the stylization
resulted in blundered legends having missing strokes and bad form. The obverse
inscription reads from top to bottom and right to left as “
同治通寳” (Tóngzhì tōng bǎo [Tongzhi universal
currency]).  The reverse displays a remedial rendition of the Manchu
characters for the Chekiang Mint. Despite the noted blunders in the
inscriptions, their manufacture was of the highest quality that the Paris Mint
could offer.  The crisp devices are clearly defined (highlighting the
errors in the calligraphy) surrounded by smooth surfaces with the tops of the
devices lightly toned giving a slight two-tone effect. This is a highly
interesting and exceedingly rare piece of Chinese numismatics, destined for an
advance collection.

 

We are currently taking consignments of world and
ancient coins and world paper money for our June Collectors Choice Online (CCO)
Auction and the August ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction in Rosemont, Illinois,
a suburb of Chicago. We are also accepting consignments of Chinese and other
Asian coins and currency for our August 19-22, 2019, Hong Kong Showcase
Auction. If you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency
(whether a whole collection or a single rarity) contact one of our consignment
directors.

 

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info@stacksbowers.com
 

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