By Chris Chatigny – Numismatist & Cataloger, Stack’s Bowers Galleries ……
For this week’s preview of our upcoming Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio August Hong Kong Showcase Auction we have a rare and historically significant gold coin from the Yunnan region of China. Shortly after Yuan Shih-kai proclaimed himself emperor of China in December 1915, military Governor of Yunnan Tang Jiyu announced the independence of Yunnan.
During the National Protection War, Tang was an important leader of the army and after the death of Yuan Shih-kai in June of 1916 Tang emerged as a dominant military leader in southern China. Due to the rapid escalation of silver prices between 1916 and 1919 Yunnan exported large quantities of tin and had to take gold in exchange. Since the cost of the campaign against Yuan Shih-kai was enormous and the existing currencies were insufficient, Tang issued two different gold coins equal to $5 and $10 of silver to pay his soldiers. Since the price of gold was comparatively higher than that of silver the weight of these pieces was slightly reduced. It is said that Tang gave up his private gold holdings in order to mint these new coins, presumably from his profits from smuggling opium into China.
The significance of this coin lies in its rank amongst the rarest of circulating Chinese gold coinage. This coin features a relatively simple uniface design consisting of a vertical central legend stating: “Equivalent of Silver Dollars Five” flanked by five-pellet rosettes. This significant gold coin is sure to attract incredible attention from devotees of Chinese numismatics.
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.