Currently for sale on Greatcollections.com is a high-grade major Chinese rarity: an MS 63 Hsu Shih Chang or “Pavilion” commemorative dollar. Quite difficult to find in such a high grade, this is an important opportunity for serious collectors of Chinese silver dollars to acquire a key variety trying to fill a hole in their collections. Interested bidders should be aware that this piece hammers in four days on Sunday, July 31, 2022, 7:48:06 PM Pacific Time (PT) (10:48 Eastern).
At the time of writing, the highest of 59 bids stands at $62,500 USD.
This coin was commissioned by President Hsu Shih-chang in 1921, the 10th year of the Republic of China. Serving as the fifth president of the Republic of China from October 1918 to June 1922, Hsu Shih Chang–one of only a few civilians to become president–held the office the longest during the Warlord era of modern Chinese history.
Since the Tientsin Mint “was considered the head mint of China until 1920,” President Hsu tasked it with striking a series of coins to commemorate his succession to office. While Tientsin struck examples in both silver and gold, the gold pieces were used exclusively as presentation pieces for state officials.
While there is no consensus on the original mintage of this variety, PCGS Asia reports a total surviving population of 251 graded and certified pieces, with coins ranging from XF 40 to MS 66. Of these, 51 are known to be in MS 63, and 26 in higher grades.
Though this design was originally believed to have been a pattern, western numismatic scholars now understand them to be commemorative in nature and were initially distributed at the Peking Union Medical College. Interestingly, in the original design, there was a blank space below the pavilion tableau instead of the lower reverse legend “Commemorative Coin”. This is where the recipients’ name would be engraved. This was quickly changed, making this type (the LM-864 K-676) the second variety of this design.
The auction record of $288,000 for the 1921 silver dollar was set in May 2022 by an example graded by PCGS as MS 63. When compared to the other most recent hammer price of 132,000 for the same grade, it is clear that there is still significant room for a deal on this MS 63 example.
Design of the Pavilion Dollar
Like many Chinese silver dollars from this era, the obverse of the 1921 issuance is simple. It shows a three-quarters facing bust of President Hsu Shih-chang from the chest up in civilian clothing interrupting the denticled border. There is no legend or other design on the obverse, with the bust surrounded by extensive fields. On this particular example, the fields are nearly flawless, with some residual frostiness that emphasizes the bust of Hsu Shih-chang.
On the reverse, the upper legend reads “Chinese Republic, 10th Year, 9th month” in Chinese characters and the lower three characters state “Commemorative Coin”. The two legends, separated by Rosettes, encircle a highly detailed tableau from which the unofficial name for this type comes. Depicting four court attendants walking up the steps, it features a pavilion with the branches of a flowering cherry tree in the background. To the left of the pavilion are four smaller Chinese characters, which translate as “Benevolent Birthdays always continue”.
The edge is reeded.
As mentioned above, the top bid in the GreatCollections sale of this MS 63 Pavilion dollar is $62,500 USD at the time of writing and bidding ends on Sunday, July 31, 2022, at 7:48 PM Pacific Time (10:48 Eastern).
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