HomeWorld CoinsHong Kong – A Very Rare Chinese Pattern Coin

Hong Kong – A Very Rare Chinese Pattern Coin

By Jay Turner for PCGS ……

China Year 二十六 (1937)-S P$1 KM-Pn185 L&M-117 Kann-632, PCGS SP63. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView.
China Year 二十六 (1937)-S P$1 KM-Pn185 L&M-117 Kann-632, PCGS SP63. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView.

In Chinese numismatics, there are countless areas to study and collect. One facet is the transition from a silver-based economy to that of a fiat currency. While this topic is very complex, in the currency reform project of November 3, 1935, the Chinese government started to remove silver from circulation in exchange for paper banknotes. This new system of money would see the production of several pattern concepts for coins before that was abandoned.

In 1936, while the Central Bank of China was replacing the coins with banknotes, the decision was made to produce a token silver coin that would contain far less silver than the coins being replaced to help make the transition more palatable to the public. This coinage was produced at the San Francisco Mint utilizing three million ounces of silver owned by China on deposit with the United States. These coins were in denominations of one dollar (35-millimeter planchets) and a half-dollar (27-millimeters wide and weighing 10 grams). The dollar, containing 20 grams of 0.720-fine silver, would replace the circulating dollars such as the Junk Dollar, which weighs 26.7 grams and was made in 0.880-fine silver.

While several concept patterns were produced, the actual coins saw a mintage of a million pieces, and these were shipped from San Francisco to Hong Kong. When these coins dated Year 25 (1936) arrived in Hong Kong in 1937, the Sino-Japanese conflict was well underway. With the war and other economic issues, these coins would not be released into circulation but instead were melted.

Surviving examples do exist, and recently two examples of the dollar and two of the half-dollar coins were certified by PCGS and sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in their September 2021 Hong Kong Sale, bringing between $228,000 to $264,000 per coin.

In 1947, pattern examples of these dollars were discovered in Shanghai with a date of Year 26 (1937). These coins also featured a mint mark on the bottom of the reverse and an “S” for San Francisco where the coins were likely produced, if not just the master dies. This issue for the (1937) coins is of the same weight and tolerance as the coins struck dated (1936) that were never issued and melted. Author Edward Kann notes these examples in his Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Coins, but most research stops there. An example of one of these Year 26 (1937) San Francisco Mint patterns was submitted to PCGS through its Hong Kong office for certification. After authentication, the coin was graded SP63 by PCGS.

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中国, 中國, 香港


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