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(1917) Yunnan $10 gold coin

Posted by Jay Turner  for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation….

An extremely rare Chinese (1917) Yunnan $10 gold coin was recently submitted to NGC.

The first step for a grader is to ascertain the authenticity of the coin in hand. However, when NGC has never seen an authentic example of that coin before, the matter becomes greatly complicated. This was the case with an extremely rare Chinese (1917) Yunnan $10 gold coin that was recently submitted to NGC.

Yunnan Province was under the rule of military governor Tang Jiyao from 1913 until 1927. After Yuan Shi-kai proclaimed himself emperor of China in December 1915, Tang announced independence for Yunnan. This led to military confrontation with Yuan Shi-kai during the National Protection War. It is believed that around 1917, gold coins were struck to pay the military troops in Yunnan. Two denominations were struck: a $5 (5 Yuan) and a $10 (10 Yuan). These coins were blank on one side and feature a simple design of Chinese characters that translate to “equivalent of silver dollars 10” or “equivalent of silver dollars 5,” depending on the denomination. It is not known how many of these pieces were struck and how many survived.

NGC recently certified and graded an example of the $5, which had been part of the Dr. Lawrence A. Adams collection and previously sold by the Money Company Hong Kong at auction on September 6, 1986. While the $10 that was subsequently submitted is similar to the $5, NGC requires concrete proof of authenticity before it will grade and encapsulate a coin.

The first step for NGC graders was to locate known genuine examples for comparison. None could be located, and none of NGC’s consultants had ever handled an authentic specimen.

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NGC graders next sought to examine plate photos from a major reference. These, however, also presented issues. The plates in the L&M reference came from Coins In The Collection of The Shanghai Museum, which was printed in 1995 and the quality of the images were too poor to confirm a die match. Another reference is currently believed to have used a counterfeit piece for its plates.

Although NGC graders could not use the L&M plate, these images led us to contact the Shanghai Museum since it had one of the few examples known to be authentic. With the help of NGC’s Shanghai office staff, images were taken of the piece in the Shanghai Museum. These images were compared to the example submitted to NGC’s headquarters and it was confirmed—the submitted coin was authentic. The coin was then assigned a grade of MS 61 by NGC.

While the majority of coins submitted to NGC are straightforward to authenticate, there are occasionally some extraordinary rarities that require extensive research. Every coin that NGC grades is guaranteed to be authentic and accurately graded so it is extremely important that every step is taken to ensure accuracy. This gives collectors the peace of mind knowing that when they buy a coin that is certified by NGC they are getting a coin that is authentic.


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