Exceptional Wu Hsu Kiangnan Dollar with Circlet-Like Scales on Dragon

The time has come! Our Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio April Hong Kong Showcase Auction is just a few days away. This sale contains a vast array of numismatic rarities and stellar collectible items. Today we highlight a gem piece from the Kiangnan Province. The province of Kiangnan was originally composed of the Anhwei and Kiangsu provinces, but by the time this piece was minted in 1897 separation had occurred.  The name Kiangnan translates to “South of the river” and refers to the Yangtze. The largest mint for this period was located in the capital of Nanking. The coins from this series were inscribed with “Made in Kiangnan Province” to differentiate them from the copper pieces from Kiangsu province.

The most significant feature of this coin is the stylization of the dragon on the obverse, identified as the “Old Kiangnan” style. The outer border contains the English legend that mirrors the Chinese reverse: “Kiangnan Province” at the top and “7 Mace and 2 Candareens” along the bottom. These inscriptions are separated by six pointed stars. The image of an eastern styled dragon, wound up in a wide “S” shape, with a large head dominates the center. The dragon features circlet-like scales, distinguishing this variety from other more common issues. This dragon is releasing a fiery pearl from his mouth, as typical for the provincial style. The enormous eyes of the dragon stare intensely out at the observer, and make for a truly memorable coin.

With some notable exceptions, this coin follows the established pattern for provincial issues. The reverse contains the usual informative Chinese inscriptions; along the top border it reads “Made in Kiangnan Province.” The lower border inscription describes the denomination “7 Mace and 2 Candareen (Dollar).” The upper and lower inscriptions are separated by two characters denoting the date of 1898 according to the sexagenary cycle used at that time. The inner legend contains a larger Chinese and smaller Manchu inscription that describes the coin in general terms: “Valuable Coin of the Kuang Hsu (regime).” Superbly struck with full sharp detail, this piece is an absolute gem with gorgeous toning, transitioning from red-orange near the rim to green and blue throughout the legends, and soft pale lilac near the center with full cartwheel luster throughout. This appealing example is the second finest certified, with only one piece graded one point higher.

Look for this and other Asian and world numismatic rarities in our upcoming April Hong Kong Showcase Auction. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this March at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine, California. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at To schedule an appointment, please call 800.458.4646. While our Stack’s Bowers Galleries April Hong Kong Showcase Auction is no longer open for consignments, we are currently taking consignments of ancient and world coins for our August 2015 ANA World’s Fair of Money Showcase Auction and Asian coins and currency for our August 2015 Hong Kong Showcase 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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