Having a lengthy history of public service in the late stages of the Qīng dynasty and the beginning of the Republic, Hsu Shih-chang (Xú Shìchāng) was an important figure during the first quarter of the 20th century. From 1907-1909, he served as Viceroy of the Three Northeast Provinces, and later acted as a tutor to the very young "Puyi," the Xuāntǒng Emperor. Even after the downfall of the Qīng dynasty and the early years of the Republic, he believed that the imperial family would be restored and sought to have Puyi provided with a broad education. In addition to these close imperial ties, he was the closest friend of Yuan Shih-kai's (Yuán Shìkǎi), an important figure in his own right who would serve as the first president of the newly established Republic in 1916. Owing to his civilian status, Hsu was highly regarded as a successor to the presidency, as the Republic had quickly become dominated by various warlords and forceful factions. On October 10, 1918, Hsu succeeded to the presidency, a role that he would hold for nearly four years.
During this term in office, a silver coin was minted at Tientsin lacking a denomination. As such, Kann refers to it as a commemorative medallion, though its size would indicate it was intended as a dollar. The obverse features a bust of the president facing slightly left with no legend, while the reverse depicts an elaborate pavilion with figures ascending its steps. To the inner left are four characters translating to "benevolent birthdays always continue," while the border contains a legend identifying the Republic and the date, and three characters meaning "commemorative coin." These issues are always popular, especially in high grade, problem free states of preservation. One such example—a PCGS MS-62—is offered in our June Collectors Choice Online (CCO) auction, and features great luster and light-to-medium gray toning. Though Hsu would eventually fall out of favor in the final year of his presidency, the reverse of this type presents a glimpse at the brief, serene nature of his term in office.
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We are always seeking coins, medals, and paper money for our future sales, and are currently accepting submissions for our October 2020 Hong Kong Auction and our January 2021 Official Auction of the N.Y.I.N.C. Our next CCO (Collectors Choice Online) auction will be in October, with the consignment deadline being September 8th. If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact one of our consignment directors today and we will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material.