Gem 1908 Chinese Empire Dollar

The Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio April 2017 Hong Kong Showcase Auction is
now online and available for viewing. Among the lots offered this gem 1908
Chinese Empire Dollar (
lot 72029) stands out for its exceptional
quality. The Central Mint in Tientsin – operated by the Board of Revenue in
Peking – minted a multitude of coinage types in the later portion of the
Empire, attempting to unify the currency system of China. Unfortunately,
China’s administrative disorganization (and lack of sufficient funds) kept the
reforms from gaining traction. Certainly the revolution overthrowing the
monarchy in 1911 and subsequent coinage series with the same purpose prohibited
their widespread production.

The obverse design features that great icon of Chinese numismatics, the
Asian serpentine dragon.  Jovial seems an
accurate description for this iteration, as the dragon grins at the viewer as
he wends through the clouds and hovers above the waves. Small tufts of clouds
and wavy lines indicating wind surround the dragon; at the epicenter of the
design lies the flaming pearl of wisdom. The upper inscription states: “Made
during the reign of Kuang Hsu.” The English “TA – CHING – TI – KUO SILVER
COIN.” appears just below. The reverse design has an all Chinese inscription,
starting at the top with: “Made in the Central Mint” (Tientsin). Two large
stops appear at left and right, with the denomination appearing at the bottom:
“Treasury Scales 7 Mace (and) 2 Candareens,” describing the weight of the coin,
in relation to the K’uping Tael. From this, the value is deduced as a silver
dollar piece. The four large characters dominating the reverse read: “Valuable
Coin (of the) Kuang Hsu (regime). The inner central inscription mirrors the
Chinese, except it is in Manchu. The quality for this piece is extraordinary,
with cascading pearly luster that moves throughout the silver white surfaces
when turned in the light. Soft translucent toning is present in the legends gives
an almost imperceptible sky blue hue.

While we are no longer accepting consignments for our April Hong Kong
Showcase Auction, we are accepting consignments of Chinese and other Asian
coins and currency for our August 2017 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. In addition,
we are currently taking consignments of world and ancient coins as well as world
paper money for our May 2017 Collector’s Choice Online Auction and August 2017
ANA Auction. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your
coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be
sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

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