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Magnificent Kiangnan Proof 3 Mace 6 Candareens

By Kyle Ponterio, Numismatist & Cataloger

Author: Kyle Ponterio / Wednesday, July 05, 2017 / Categories: World Coin of the Week

This week’s highlight from our August 13-15 Hong Kong Auction at the Mira Hotel in Hong Kong is a beautifully toned extremely rare Kiangnan Proof 3 Mace 6 Candareens (1/2 Dollar) with reeded edge. It is struck from dies prepared at the Heaton mint in Birmingham. The obverse depicts a winding Chinese dragon within circular border, pearl of wisdom at center, province name and denomination around, all within decorative border. The reverse consists of the ruler’s name in both Chinese and Manchu within linked “S” border, province name and denomination in Chinese divided by six-pointed stars at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, all within decorative border.

In 1897 the Heaton mint received an order from the Qing government to provide the necessary equipment and set up a mint at Nanking. A full denomination set of dies was prepared including a 7 Mace 2 Candareens (Dollar), 3 Mace 6 Candareens (1/2 Dollar), 1 Mace 4.4 Candareens (20 Cent), 7.2 Candareens (10 Cent), 3.6 Candareens (5 Cent) as well as a 1 Cash, all of which were sent along with the new minting equipment. It is common knowledge that the Heaton mint as well as other mints struck examples for their own reference archives. James O. Sweeny, brilliant numismatic author of “A Numismatic history of the Birmingham Mint” published 1981 who was given access to said archives, noted that the dollar was plain edge otherwise the remaining silver denominations were identical to the circulation strikes, meaning they had a milled edge (as on the present example). These Heaton mint Proofs are easily distinguishable from their circulation issue counterparts with hard mirror-like fields and frosted cameo devices, whereas the regular issues have more of a satiny surface throughout with no distinction between the fields and devices.

Famed collector and author Mr. Haru S.C. Chang notes regarding the Heaton mint Proofs: “Every coin of this series is a major rarity.” Considering the fact that the godfather of Chinese numismatics Eduard Kann was unaware of their existence and did not mention them in his outstanding early reference the “Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Coins” (first published 1954 and again in 1966) one would have to agree. The excellent design prepared by the Heaton mint would have much further reaching effects than would normally be expected, as it was used and modified to become that standard design of all of the provincial issues and even some of the early republican issues. The coin offered in our 2017 August Hong Kong auction represents a highly important aspect of Chinese numismatics in outstanding condition and with a fabulous provenance.

We are no longer accepting consignments for our August Hong Kong auction. We are however currently taking consignments of world and ancient coins and world paper money for our October Collectors Choice Online Auction (CCO), our January 2018 New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) and our April 2018 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. 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.