Fabulous “Mint Sport” with Gold Standard Reverse

This week’s preview for the Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio April Hong Kong
Showcase Auction is a gorgeous example of a rarely seen “Mint Sport,” with the
elusive Gold Standard reverse. The unadopted Gold Standard Dollar gives
testament to China’s struggles to find a workable financial policy in the decades
following the 1911 Revolution and the ensuing drive toward full unification. In
an effort to find this elusive solution the Nanking Government invited foreign
economists to give a detailed report on the state of Chinese finances and offer
recommendations on policy change and fiscal structure. This overview was known
as the Kemmerer Report and advocated the gradual introduction of coins issued
on the gold standard with designs similar to the already circulating Sun
Yat-sen "Junk" Dollars with the monetary unit and its fractions known
as "1 Sun, 1/2 Sun, etc.".

The commission brought in by the Nanking Government was headed by world
renowned "Money Doctor" Professor Edwin Kemmerer. In the early 1900s
Kemmerer had been appointed as the Financial Advisor to the United States
Philippine Commission. H was an outspoken advocate and ardent defender of the
gold standard and developed the plan that placed the Philippine monetary system
under it. Throughout the 1910s and 1920s Kemmerer worked alternately as a professor
at Cornell and Princeton and as an economic advisor to several countries,
predominantly in Central and South America. Eventually he became the leader of
advisory commissions, which allowed for much more in depth analysis and
recommendation. This was true of the Kemmerer Commission, which was summoned to
China in autumn 1929 and did not deliver its final report until late autumn
1930. This report was not released to the public until May of the following
year, after which the order for dies and trials were placed (with the intention
of dating them to 1929).

The U.S. Mint at Philadelphia was contracted to produce dies for the
proposed "Sun" units, which maintained the overall appearance of the
concurrent "Birds over Junk" Dollars with modifications to the
reverse design. Prepared by then Chief Engraver John Sinnock, the modified
design moved the three geese from soaring over the junk to skimming along the
water just below it. This modification may coincide with the removal of the
geese altogether from the design of the regular Dollars of 1933. According to
Kann, "Because the rising sun might have been confounded with the national
emblem of Japan, and the wild geese likened to oncoming Japanese warplanes."
Additionally a legend was added stating, "Gold Standard Currency One
Dollar" in place of the simple denomination, "One Yuan." The
subsequent fractional "Suns" share these design elements with, of
course, the appropriate changes to the denominations. Once the dies were
prepared a small trial run of pieces were struck and along with the dies were
shipped to Shanghai. There famed mechanical engineer Clifford Hewitt had
established a new modern mint, having been under contract by the Chinese
government since 1920 following the opening of the Manila Mint which he helped
set up.

This piece is identified by most references as a "Mint Sport"
with the obverse design of the 1929 Sun Yat-sen pattern pieces and the reverse
of the aforementioned "Gold Standard" Junk design. The current
example is struck in bronze, and maintains luster in the protected areas while
showing few signs of handling. This piece is a wondrous rarity of type and
condition, and has garnered a Mint State 62 Brown grade from NGC. Though the
gold standard project never came to fruition, this mint sport and the few pieces
that exist have been coveted numismatic rarities practically since they were

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 2018 Hong Kong Auction. In addition, we are
currently taking consignments of world and ancient coins as well as world paper
money for our May 2018 Collector’s Choice Online Auction and our August 2018
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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