See also : 20th century coins
1899 Kiang Nan 3 Mace and 6 Candareens
2022 SOLD for $ 1.2M by Stack's Bowers
In 1897 the American company Ferracute is awarded a contract to supply and install coin presses in the Chinese provinces at the request of the imperial government. The material is sent without delay and the transfer of technology is successfully carried out in 1898 in Szechuen to produce silver coins and the small brass coin, the tsen colloquially named cash.
For silver the biggest denomination is the yuan, translated as dollar in English. The word dollar does not appear, replaced by the weight in the units of the Chinese decimal system, mace and candareen, subdivisions of the tael.
That Chinese dollar is marked in English letters 7 mace and 2 candareens while the half dollar is 3 mace and 6 candareens. The emitting province is indicated on the same side which is centered on the effigy of a dragon. The other side is inscribed in Chinese characters.
Some other provinces immediately follow Szechuen with the same conception. Also in 1898 the Guangxu emperor attempted to start an ambitious reform program which was halted by a military coup organized by Cixi. These events culminated in 1899 in the Boxer wars. Curiously the provincial coinage of American origin was to survive this xenophobic phase.
An undated Shen-Si Province silver pattern coin of 1898 of 3 mace and 6 candareens was sold for $ 600K by Stack's Bowers on October 7-8, 2021, lot 23062. It is graded SP-63 by PCGS.
A 'dragon dollar' 1898-1899 'Cheh-Kiang Province' graded MS-66 by NGC was sold for $ 440K by Heritage on June 28, 2018, lot 30074. In the sam sale, the half dollar of same period and same province graded MS-67 was sold for $ 106K, lot 30073 and the 1899 half dollar 'Kiang Nan Province' graded MS-62-Prooflike for $ 310K, lot 30088.
A Kiang Nan coin of 3 mace and 6 candareens inscribed as a so-called 'prowing' coin was sold for $ 1.2M from a lower estimate of $ 300K by Stack's Bowers on May 4, 2022, lot 51040.
This undated coin comes from a 1899 issue made in the Nanking mint. That local operation was stopped for financial problems in 1900 and that factory reopened in 1901 after the Boxer wars.
That circulating variety is highly rare. Graded MS-62+ Prooflike by PCGS, the above example fully formed rims of no surface markings. With its multiple times striking, it certainly had been a specimen. Only 3 other coins are known, all of them graded Almost uncirculated.
1906 Pattern Tael Restrike
2021 SOLD for $ 1.35M by Stack's Bowers
A silver pattern tael dated 29th year of Kuang Hsu graded SP-55 by PCGS was sold for $ 840K by Stack's Bowers on April 6, 2021, lot 50006.
A highly rare silver pattern restrike made in 1906 in Tianjin was sold for $ 1.35M from a lower estimate of $ 200K by Stack's Bowers on December 2, 2021, lot 42054. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
This example in gem condition is graded SP 65 by PCGS.
1908 7 Mace and 2 Candareens Tai-Ching-Ti-Kuo
2021 SOLD for $ 1.26M by Stack's Bowers
A 1907 Tai-Ching-Ti-Kuo pattern dollar graded MS-65+ by PCGS was sold for $ 500K by Stack's Bowers on April 6, 2021, lot 50008. Please watch the Coin in motion shared by the auction house.
An undated silver coin made in 1908 of 7 mace and 2 candareens worth 1 dollar, graded SP64+ by PCGS, was sold for $ 1.26M from a lower estimate of $ 150K by Stack's Bowers on December 2, 2021, lot 42043. Made in 1908 in the Tianjin Mint, it has the Tai-Ching-Ti-Kuo inscription. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
With the same face value, a coin marked Pei Yang and dated 34th year of Kuang Hsu was sold for $ 960K by Stack's Bowers in the same sale as above, lot 42044. That reign date matches 1908 CE.
These trials for a Qing dollar were interrupted by a restart of the provincial dissents at the death of the Guangxu emperor (Western spelling Kuang-hsü), replaced by a three year old child in November 1908.
1910 Yunnan Spring Dollar
2010 SOLD for US $ 1.06M by Champion Hong Kong
The region is bordering Tonkin. The railway line connecting Haiphong to Kunming is an entirely French project with the authorization of the Chinese government. The rail reaches Kunming on April 1, 1910 after seven years of work in extremely severe conditions.
A 1 dollar silver coin surfaced in 1920. Its characteristics are unusual. An inscription in four Chinese characters on the reverse indicates that it was made in the spring of a year corresponding to 1910, defined in the calendar cycle of 60 years and not by the year of the reign. This is the only known example of a Chinese coinage naming a season. An English inscription on the side of the dragon recalls the Chinese value of 7 mace and 2 candareens and the production in the province of Yun-Nan.
This piece was considered unique after three runs of fakes had been identified. Graded AU55 by NGC, it was sold for US $ 1.06M by Champion Hong Kong on August 22, 2010, lot 12 here linked on LiveAuctioneers bidding platform.
A few months later, another coin was authenticated. NGC and Champion testified that it was struck with the same dies as the discovery coin. Graded AU58 by NGC, it was sold twice by Heritage : for $ 550K on September 8, 2011 and for $ 660K on July 12, 2020, lot 30141.
The two surviving pieces referred above are certified AU (Almost Uncirculated) by NGC. This variety has thus the characteristics of a pattern coin which has not been followed by production. Champion supports the very plausible hypothesis of the project of a presentation coin to celebrate the completion of the rail line.
The 2020 Heritage catalog announces a total population of three units certified by NGC.
1911 Long Whisker Dragon Pattern Dollar
The Tianjin mint survives the changes of regime : the fall of the Qing is followed by the republic, established on January 1, 1912, interrupted in 1915 by the self-proclamation of its president Yuan Shikai as emperor and restored after his death in 1916.
From 1910 to 1920 the head designer and chief engraver of the Tianjin mint was Luigi Giorgi on whom biographical details are scarce. He produced several designs of silver coins, some of which were signed with his name. His coins are drawn and engraved with great sharpness. His One Dollar with the Dragon in the Clouds, dated to the 3rd year of the child emperor Xuantung which is 1911 CE, is the last imperial coinage of the Qing.
Designed in the same year by Luigi Giorgi, the silver dollar with the Long Whiskers Dragon was not released for circulation. Its pattern coins are beautifully struck on specially prepared surface.
The fall of the Qing makes the dragon obsolete. This imperial symbol is soon replaced by the portrait of Yuan Shikai. The silver dollars with this effigy dated to the year 3 of the Republic, 1914 CE, were also prepared in Tianjin by Giorgi.
SP64+ by NGC
2023 for sale on December 9 by Heritage
In the same variety, an example graded SP63 by NGC was sold for $ 690K by Heritage on June 21, 2023, lot 30031. Its preservation is excellent including its sharp striking, clear contrast, fine die polish and untoned surfaces that bring a cameo-like appearance.
SP63+ by PCGS
2022 SOLD for $ 3M by Stack's Bowers
The experimental strike included some variations. This pattern coin has stylistic differences in the Manchu script and the leaves on the reverse.
PR63 by NGC
2021 SOLD for $ 1.2M by Heritage
A long whisker dragon pattern silver dollar graded SP64 by PCGS was sold for $ 1.02M by Stack's Bowers on April 6, 2021, lot 50009. Its reverse design is close to the final iteration, in an artistic Manchu calligraphy. Its variety is L&M-29, Kann-223b, KM-Pn306, Chang-CH28; Wenchao-108;
The best surviving long whisker dragon is graded SP-65 by NGC. It was sold for $ 430K by Bowers and Merena on December 4, 2010 and for $ 460K by Stack's Bowers on October 6, 2020, lot 41244. Its variety is the same as the last example above.
1911 Reversed Dragon Pattern Dollar
2023 SOLD for $ 1.38M by Stack's Bowers
This pattern was followed in the same year by the One Dollar minted for circulation in Tianjin with a production run of nearly 80 million, designated as the One Dollar with the Dragon in the Clouds, where the body of the dragon is clockwise. The immediate fall of the Qing obsoleted the dragon design. All the pattern and production coins of 1911 were designed by Luigi Giorgi.
The reversed dragon pattern is extremely rare but exists in two variants differentiated in the hatched texture of the outer leaves. An example of the variety II in specimen condition, graded SP-65 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1.38M from a lower estimate of $ 750K by Stack's Bowers on April 17, 2023, lot 40162. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
Another specimen of the same variety, graded SP-64 by PCGS, was sold for $ 210K by Stack's Bowers on May 5, 2020, lot 41345. Another one, graded SP-62 by PCGS, was sold for $ 108K by Stack's Bowers in April 2015, lot 10211.
1914 Silver Pattern Dollar
2022 SOLD for $ 1.17M by Stack's Bowers
In 1914 he struck silver dollars in his image, superseding the dragon on the obverse of the Chinese dollar silver coin. The new coins were still designed by Luigi Giorgi in Tianjin.
A pattern coin from that 3rd year of the Chinese republic features President Yuan full front in bust in military attire including a tall hat and epaulettes. It is signed L. GIORGI on that side. The best specimen in PCGS registry, graded SP-67, was sold for $ 1.17M from a lower estimate of $ 100K by Stack's Bowers on May 4, 2022, lot 51163.
A pattern dollar from the same year features the same man in three quarter length bare headed bust and military attire. A specimen graded SP-58 by PCGS was sold for $ 500K by Stack's Bowers on April 6, 2021, lot 50010.
The circulation dollar of that year will not be one of the above but a military bust in full profile to the left of the President.
Caught in a political whirlwind, Yuan Shikai believed he could maintain his power by self-proclaiming himself as emperor, on December 12, 1915. Thus began on January 1, 1916 the year 1 of Yuan with the reign name Hung Hsien, a politically ambiguous name meaning "constitutional abundance".
This was quite ephemeral. His military colleagues disapproved the initiative, and moreover he was sick. The last Chinese emperor abdicated on March 22, 1916, and died on June 6.
Giorgi retired in 1920 from his position of head designer and chief engraver at Tianjin.
1928 Posthumous Chang Tso-lin Pattern Silver Dollar
Zhang Zuolin (Chang Tso-lin) was one of these power-hungry generals. Having become the master of Manchuria after supporting the Japanese, he managed to win several provinces and to control Beijing in 1927. He then took the extravagant title of Grand Marshal of the military government of the Republic of China.
A gold coin of 50 yuan is then prepared in Tianjin, with his image in military uniform. The other side is dated to the sixteenth year of the Republic, assessing that Zhang had not, or not yet, the imperial ambitions of Yuan Shikai. Only a few prototypes of this coin was made. It is nevertheless important in the history of Chinese numismatics, because it is the largest gold coin of the Republic.
It is known in two copies only. One of them, which was presented to Zhang, was kept by his family. Remained in uncirculated condition, this piece of outstanding quality was sold for HK $ 4.4M by Bonhams on November 24, 2012, lot 500.
The new leader of the Kuomintang (Guomindang), Chiang Kai Shek (Jiang Jieshi), set out to reunify China. Chang Tso-lin lost Beijing on June 3, 1928. The next day, he died in the explosion of his private train, perpetrated by a rival faction. His son Chang Hsueh-liang (Zhang Xueliang), nicknamed the Young Marshal, succeeds him.
Currency is essential to ensure the loyalty of soldiers, especially in a civil war. Since 1912, the official currency of the Republic of China has been the dollar.
A silver dollar was prepared with the effigy of Chang Tso-lin in civilian dress on the year of Republic 17, 1928 CE. Its text announces it as memorial, which suggests that it is posthumous. Its terminus ante quem is December 29, 1928, when the Young Marshal rallies to the government of the Kuomintang. Having become politically incorrect, this coin will not be issued.
2021 SOLD for $ 2.3M by Stack's Bowers
2021 SOLD for $ 2.16M by Heritage
#HERITAGELIVE: An Incredible Example of the Rare Final Pattern Dollar of Chang Tso-li sells for $2,160,000 in our HKINF #WorldCoins Signature® Auction in Hong Kong.— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) December 13, 2021
To date, between @NGCcoin & @PCGScoin combined, a mere 10 examples have been certified. https://t.co/T1i6L8G1qh pic.twitter.com/SlfYnGbCX4