week’s preview coin for our upcoming Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio April Hong
Kong Showcase Auction is steeped in historical importance -- a choice “Reversed
Pattern” China Kwangtung 3 Mace 6½ Candareens. 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. At
this time, this mint was the largest in the world.
Allan Wyon designed patterns for
the first coins 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,
struck later at the Kwangtung mint. The series is referred to by numismatists
as the "Reversed Pattern," referring 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 (Dollar) 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, 3 Mace And 6 ½ Candareens, which also provides its value
of 50 Cents 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 the center, surrounded by Chinese
characters. This upper legend reads: Made in Kwangtung Province. The lower portion
states: Treasury scales, 3 Mace and 6 ½ Candareens (denomination/weight).
This coin represents the Chinese emerging into modern minting, and
is historically significant as it is the first of the modern machine struck
silver coins of China. Represented here is the first use of what became the
"standard design" for provincial mints, bearing the effigy of a
facing dragon. This type became the standard design, not only for the Kwangtung
mint, but for all mints in China that adopted the dragon design. 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 silver. Light
clear almond color tone is enhanced by generous amounts of underlying luster.
Upon close inspection the tone can be seen to be an amalgam of other colors.
Well struck, with the reverse center Manchu characters all crisp and clear,
plus full scales the entire length of the dragon.
Though our Stack’s Bowers April Hong Kong Showcase Auction is no
longer open for 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 August 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.