By Chris Chatigny, Numismatist & Cataloger – Stacks Bowers ……
This week’s preview for the Stack’s Bowers upcoming August Hong Kong Showcase Auction is a lovely Dragon Pattern Dollar from the final period of the Chinese Empire and the Qing (Ch’ing) Dynasty. The Central Mint in Tientsin – operated by the Board of Revenue in Peking – minted a multitude of coinage types in the later portion of the Empire, in an attempt to unify the currency system of China. Unfortunately, China’s administrative disorganization (as well as a lack of sufficient funds) inhibited the reforms from gaining traction.
The obverse design is attention grabbing: a fearsome Asian serpentine Dragon differs from the somewhat more docile iterations found on most Chinese coinage. On this pattern, the mythical beast bursts forth vigorously from the stormy sea and corkscrews in mid-air to roar at the viewer. The fiery pearl and cloud wisps invoke the powerful nature of the creature, and when viewed collectively it stands as one of the most energetic and memorable of the Chinese Dragon designs.
The upper legend states: “Made during the reign of Hsuen Tung” with seven-pointed rosettes and floral bursts found in the outer design, with the denomination of “$1” found at six o’clock. The reverse is more muted, featuring the necessary Chinese and Manchu legends, beginning at the top with the four Manchu characters, floral bursts at three and nine o’clock, with two Chinese characters stating “1 Yuan.” The four central characters denote: “Great Ch’ing (Dynasty) Silver Coin.”
A single point from the finest graded at NGC, this is a beautiful example of a rare short-lived proposed design and features a highly-stylized dollar symbol in the denomination. Brilliant and lustrous white surfaces lay full claim to the assigned gem grade. The razor sharp strike and immaculate fields, totally free of significant marks or abrasions, combine to produce a stunning numismatic treasure.
The art nouveau influence in the dragon is unmistakable, with the overall design reflecting European influence. This is a coin missing from all but the most advanced collections, the pristine state of preservation seen here will launch the collection it enters to a new level of sophistication and prestige.
Though our Stack’s Bowers August Hong Kong Showcase Auction is no longer open for consignments, we are now accepting consignments of world and ancient coins for our January 2017 New York International (NYINC) Auction as well as Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our April 2017 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.