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Rare Money Blog

By Jeremy Bostwick, Senior Numismatist and Cataloger

​The rapid industrialization of the western world in the 19th century led to an ongoing need to open new markets, with the Far East providing a prime opportunity for both selling and buying. To this end, the United States under President Millard Fillmore sent Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. Navy to Japan in 1853. In July of that year, he arrived in Tokyo harbor with the intent of engaging in "battleship diplomacy," a type of negotiation which actually involved no real negotiating but instead entailed an ultimatum through threats of hostile aggression.

By Jeremy Bostwick, Senior Numismatist and Cataloger

​There are many highlights and exceptional rarities in our upcoming October Hong Kong auction, principal among them is a fabled "long-whisker" pattern dollar designed by Luigi Giorgi, the accomplished head of the central mint at Tientsin during the closing years of the Qing Empire and the first decade of the Republic. This instantly recognizable type stands as the first variation of the popular "dragon in the clouds" design, presenting long whiskers on the highly expressive face of the dragon. It is additionally known as the "ordinary reverse," as the character side displays the same design as was adopted on the 1911 circulation strike issues. Incredibly rare and seldom encountered, this type has been missing from most of the more prominent Chinese collections, such as those of Irving Goodman, Dr. Norman Jacobs, and the Chang Foundation.

By Jeremy Bostwick, Senior Numismatist and Cataloger

​Numismatic representations of automobiles are always popular due to their immense crossover appeal and the fact that such commonplace machines are seldom encountered in the hobby. Some of the earliest appearances were on medals rather than coins, as these generally commemorated auto shows and races as far back as the first decade of the 20th century. Coins, however, had fewer depictions. One of the more popular racing motifs among modern issues is the controversial 100 Patacas from Macao, issued for the 25th anniversary of the Grand Prix and featuring an open wheel racecar both with and without decals.

By Jeremy Bostwick, Senior Numismatist and Cataloger

​While the massive collection formed by the legendary Eduard Kann stands as a pinnacle of Chinese numismatics, other impressive collections were also formed by numismatists intrigued by their stays in China. One such collection was that of General Miles Stanley Newton of the United States Marine Corps. Newton was a passionate collector throughout his life, and sought a quality example of each type of United States coinage—a feat that he was nearly able to complete. His passion was not limited to U.S. coins, however, as his world travels with the Marines allowed for the formation of a more global collection.

By Jeremy Bostwick, Senior Numismatist and Cataloger

​Born into a Beijing (Peking) family of performing artists in 1894, Mei Lan spent his early childhood honing his craft through acting, singing, and even attempting acrobatics. At the age of just 11, he made his stage debut (under the name of Mei Lanfang), eventually developing a reputation for the portrayal of women at the Peking Opera. These very skillful portrayals garnered him international acclaim, with various tours to the west as a cultural ambassador and a conduit for spreading the Peking Opera style abroad.

By Jeremy Bostwick, Senior Numismatist and Cataloger

​Late in the 19th century, China began to modernize their coining system, moving away from the cast "cash" coinage that had been standard for over two millennia, and toward a denominated rubric more in line with the western world. Various provincial mints began striking the "7 mace 2 candareens" denomination—corresponding to the Mexican 8 reales, American dollar and other similar crown sized silver issues—along with its respective minors.

By Jeremy Bostwick, Senior Numismatist and Cataloger

​Though western Europe and the United States were all initially allied in their approach to opening up China during the mid-late 19th century, civil unrest toward the emerging colonizers led to Germany seeking and securing a 99-year lease on the area surrounding what is now known as Jiaozhou Bay in 1898. This takeover, known then as the Kiautschou Bay concession, gave Germany prime position for her navy in the Pacific, a more formal colonial foothold in China, and fortifications to defend against any future aggression. Other western powers, however, viewed this as an unparalleled growth of influence in the emerging market, and began to seek footholds of their own.

By Jeremy Bostwick, Senior Numismatist and Cataloger

​The rise in power and prestige of the Habsburg dynasty in Austria during the 14th and 15th centuries created the possibility for more advantageous marriages and, as a result, political alliances. The first from the family to become Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I secured a pivotal marriage with Mary "the Rich," her father being the duke of Burgundy, Charles "the Bold."

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