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Exceptional Mint State Kwangtung Reversed Pattern Dollar – The first Dragon Dollar of China

By Chris Chatigny, Numismatist & Cataloger

Author: Chris Chatigny / Thursday, December 03, 2015 / Categories: World Coin of the Week

Our upcoming Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio December Hong Kong Showcase Auction will offer a choice coin steeped in rich historical importance. Authorization to establish the Kwangtung mint was granted in 1887, implemented by Viceroy Chang Chi-Tung. In order to modernize the mint, minting machinery, dies, hubs, and other equipment were ordered from the Heaton mint at Birmingham. Upon their arrival in 1888, Kwangtung became the first mint in China to use modern minting machinery and at this time, it was the largest mint in the world. Patterns for the first coins were designed by Allan Wyon in the denominations of 1 Dollar, 50 Cents, 20 Cents, and 10 Cents. The first Heaton patterns were later delivered to the Chinese ambassador in London. For some reason, the initial order did not include the 5 Cent piece that was struck later at the Kwangtung mint. The series is referred to by numismatists as the "Seven Three Reversed Pattern". The term "Seven Three" directly relates to the silver content. The term "Reversed Pattern" refers to the English and Chinese legends which are reversed from what later became standard. Initially, Kwangtung introduced the first coinage with a higher silver value, with the intention of replacing foreign coins circulating within China. The standard of 7 Mace 2 Candareens was raised to 7 Mace 3 Candareens in order to gain public acceptance and replace the Mexican 8 Reales.

The obverse contains four large Chinese characters, which depict “Kuang Hsu Yuan Pao” which means Valuable Coin (from the) Kuang Hsu (regime). In the exact center are found four Manchu characters which denote the same information. The upper legend states “Kwang-Tung Province” and the lower legend provides the weight, 7 Mace And 3 Candareens, which also provides its value of 1 Dollar when converted to the Tael system. These upper and lower legends are separated by small rosettes. The reverse of the coin features the distinctive Imperial flying Dragon in center, surrounded by Chinese characters. This upper legend reads: Made in Kwangtung Province. The lower portion states: Treasury scales, 7 Mace and 3 Candareens (denomination/weight). This coin represents the Chinese emergence into modern minting, and is an important piece of Chinese numismatic history.

This coin is historically significant as it is the first of the modern machine struck silver coins of China and the first use of what became the "standard design" for provincial mints, bearing the effigy of a facing dragon. The piece offered for sale here is quite rare in that it is actually a circulation strike, most of which were melted down to retrieve the extra Candareen of silver. Pleasantly toned, the quality is exceptional for this very rare type.

Look for this and other world numismatic rarities in our upcoming December Hong Kong Showcase Auction. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at www.StacksBowers.com. Though our Stack’s Bowers December Hong Kong Showcase Auction is no longer open for further consignments, we are now accepting consignments of world and ancient coins for our August 2016 ANA Auction as well as Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our April 2016 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.