One of the coins featured in the upcoming Heritage Auctions July 7-9 Hong Kong Sale is the extremely rare Republic of China Sun Yat-sen silver Pattern 50 Cents, Year 26 (1937)-S MS62 NGC, struck at the San Francisco Mint, and complete with the familiar corresponding S mintmark.
This is hands down one of the rarest Sun Yat-sen minors of the mid-20th century Chinese series, only very seldom coming to market and generally not in very appreciable condition. It serves as an ideal “sister” piece to the full Dollar Pattern we offered as part of our last installment of the Glorium Collection in December.
At MS62, as certified by NGC, it represents the second finest yet recognized in the certified population. In the course of our research, just five others have come to light. From a visual standpoint, this coin exudes a frosty finish unencumbered by any notable tone, with just a few light obverse marks preventing a higher grade. We note that NGC and PCGS maintain differing standards for how they designate this Pattern, with the former assigning Mint State and the latter Specimen grades, though there is no observable difference in the overall finish.
Featuring the motif of the P’u (ancient spade coin) on the reverse that would become the trademark of the so-called “universal” series of the late Republic, both the 1936 and 1937 Sun Yat-sen coinage is now known to have been part of a more-or-less secret political program between the United States government and China aimed at artificially driving up the price of silver. Seeking to aid the Chinese in their resistance to the Japanese, the US had been buying up enormous amounts of Chinese silver following the outlawing of silver coins there in 1935. Official records document that on June 17, 1936, the Chinese Ministry of Finance elected to utilize three million ounces of this silver held on account in the US to produce silver dollars, meant to be a token coinage of lesser intrinsic value, containing only 0.720 fineness.
An initial run of Pattern Dollars and Half Dollars was produced in either Philadelphia or Shanghai in 1936, with a later batch of coins—carrying the S mintmark—produced in San Francisco in 1938 (dated 1937) to a figure of around 10 million pieces. The 1937-dated coins were never shipped to Shanghai, but were almost entirely melted by the San Francisco Mint, with the few pieces that survive today likely representing samples sent to mint officials in Shanghai.
中国, 中國, 香港, 香港拍卖, 香港拍賣, 孫逸仙