By Chris Chatigny – Stack’s Bowers….
Stack’s Bowers Galleries is very excited to offer some exceptional vintage Chinese and other world coins as a part of our Rarities Night auction on May 20th. This is sure to be an exciting sale with an incredible lineup of numismatic rarities. The entire Rarities Night auction can be viewed here, and this impressive Pei Yang Tael can be viewed here.
This coin represents one of a few attempts made by the Chinese Imperial government to institute a standard coinage system based on the Tael, while simultaneously circulating with the coinage system based on the foreign denomination of dollars (7 Mace 2 Candareens) and its subsidiaries. Ultimately, the Tael coinage system never caught on, partially due to Emperor Kuang Hsu’s death in 1908, very shortly after the official Imperial Decree was issued. This piece was minted at the Central Mint at Tientsin (Tianjin) in Chihli province in northeastern China, a region that contains the eastern end of the Great Wall. This coinage met with mixed approval and never gained wide acceptance. Shortly after the death of the emperor, the project was aborted and replaced with attempts at a unified centrally issued coinage.
The archetypal symbol for China, the eastern serpentine dragon, constitutes the majority of the obverse design. The dragon displays a fearsome visage, its great scaly form winding and twisting in flight. Its four limbs, tipped with fierce five toed claws, appear equidistant from each other in a square pattern. Wisps of clouds surround the dragon. The dragon’s tail ends in eight sharp prongs, with a ridge of spikes along its back culminating in a crown of barbs atop its head. Long whiskers drape down past its open mouth, with an ornate flaming pearl issuing forth from its mouth. The flaming pearl contains seven flames and three faint dots arranged in a straight line. Around the dragon, the English legend: “33rd Year of Kuang Hsu” (1907) appears above, with “Pei Yang” (mint location) appearing below. The upper and lower legends are separated by a small dot.
The reverse design contains a Chinese and Manchu legend. Within a pearled ring the large center inscription states “Valuable Coin (of the) Kuang Hsu (regime).” The upper Manchu legend is preceded and followed by a single dot. Two symbols on either side of the outer ring denote the location of Pei Yang. The lower inscription states the weight and denomination of “K’uping 1 Tael.” Bold toning permeates the obverse and reverse, with smoky grey-blue and fierce orange and yellow highlights. This is the finest example certified of this type by PCGS. This stunning classic Chinese numismatic rarity is sure to be a major highlight of the auction and should see intense bidding once it reaches the auction podium.
Look for this and other Asian and world numismatic rarities in our upcoming Rarities Night Auction on May 20th, the day after the D. Brent Pogue Collection Part 1 on May 19th. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at www.StacksBowers.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 800.458.4646. While our Stack’s Bowers Galleries May 20 Rarities Night Auction is no longer open for consignments, we are currently taking consignments of ancient and world coins for our August 2015 ANA World’s Fair of Money Showcase Auction and Asian coins and currency for our August 2015 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.