Extremely Rare 1897 Ferracute Szechuan Pattern Set is Certified

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) and noted numismatist Chen Gi Mao have announced that they will form the NGC Advanced Chinese Authentication Bureau (ACAB). The partnership combines the experience and expertise of NGC, a leading third-party coin grading service established in 1987, and Chen Gi Mao, one of the most respected vintage Chinese coin specialists.

Mr. Chen has been a professional numismatist for more than 45 years, during which time he has handled nearly all of the rarest and most important vintage Chinese gold and silver coins. In 1975, he co-founded the Taipei Numismatic Society, where he served as a council member. He also founded the highly respected Dingfong Auction as well as several other numismatic companies.

A serious student of vintage Chinese coins, Mr. Chen wrote the books Illustrated Catalogue of Sinkiang Gold and Silver Coins (1989) and Sinkiang Gold and Silver Coin Catalog (2016). He also provided valuation estimates and pictures from Lin Kwo Ming’s famous Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Gold & Silver Coins.

Vintage Chinese coins, defined as those struck prior to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, are extremely diverse with coins issued in a variety of metals by relatively autonomous mints around the country. As China’s economy and coin collecting hobby have grown in recent decades, values for many vintage Chinese coins have skyrocketed, resulting in a proliferation of highly deceptive counterfeits.

The complexity of these coins coupled with the significant liability presented by counterfeits led NGC to be more conservative towards vintage Chinese coins. As NGC seeks to expand its services in China, however, it recognizes the need for a comprehensive approach that includes a conscientious look at vintage Chinese coins.

With Mr. Chen, NGC has found a world-class specialist with a desire to build the finest team of vintage Chinese coin authenticators ever assembled. Mr. Chen, who has been appointed an NGC Senior Consultant, will lead the NGC ACAB in conjunction with the NGC grading team. He will also be responsible for finding and training additional authentication specialists in China.

Steven R. Eichenbaum, CEO of NGC, and Chen Gi Mao at NGC Shanghai's office

Steven R. Eichenbaum, CEO of NGC, and Chen Gi Mao at NGC Shanghai’s office

The NGC ACAB is based at the newly expanded offices of NGC Shanghai Business Information Consulting Co., Ltd. (NGC Shanghai), NGC’s wholly owned Chinese subsidiary. All vintage Chinese coins that are submitted to NGC in China will be evaluated by the NGC ACAB. Once determined to be authentic, the coins will be assigned a grade by NGC’s grading team and encapsulated with the distinctive NGC ACAB Red Dragon label. Only those coins that have been evaluated by the NGC ACAB will receive this special label.

The first coins evaluated by the NGC ACAB were 10 extremely rare pattern coins struck in 1897 for the newly established Imperial mint in Szechuan Province by the Ferracute Machine Company of New Jersey. Considered to be among the most important and valuable coins in vintage Chinese numismatics, these pieces were made after Ferracute was selected by the Imperial Government of China to provide presses and other equipment for mints in Hupeh and Szechuan Provinces.

On March 24, 1897, Ferracute demonstrated these presses for U.S. Mint officials by striking several tests pieces, called “patterns” by numismatists. Only a handful of these patterns survived, and just three complete sets are known to exist.

One of these sets was recently submitted to NGC for certification. The coins were professionally conserved by Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS), an independent affiliate of NGC, and then evaluated by the NGC ACAB.

The set, which has now been graded and encapsulated by NGC with the NGC ACAB Red Dragon Label, includes the following coins:

  • A silver 7 mace and 2 candareens (dollar) graded NGC SP 65
  • A silver 3 mace and 6 candareens (50 cents) graded NGC SP 63
  • A silver 1 mace and 4.4 candareens (20 cents) graded NGC SP 65
  • A silver 7.2 candareens (10 cents) graded NGC SP 65
  • A silver 3.6 candareens (5 cents) graded NGC SP 65
  • A brass 7 mace and 2 candareens (dollar) graded NGC SP 63
  • A brass 3 mace and 6 candareens (50 cents) graded NGC SP 64+
  • A brass 1 mace and 4.4 candareens (20 cents) graded NGC SP 66
  • A brass 7.2 candareens (10 cents) graded NGC SP 65 and
  • A brass 3.6 candareens (5 cents) graded NGC SP 64

A gallery with images of the NGC-certified 1897 Szechuan Ferracute Pattern Set will be posted to the NGC websites, NGCcoin.com and NGCcoin.cn, shortly.

Coins certified by NGC, including those encapsulated with the NGC ACAB Red Dragon Label, are backed by the comprehensive NGC Guarantee of grade and authenticity. This guarantee gives collectors and dealers greater confidence because it provides an owner of an NGC-certified coin with several possible remedies in the rare event that NGC mistakenly certified a counterfeit or overgraded the coin. The NGC Guarantee can be read in English at NGCcoin.com/Guarantee or Chinese at NGCcoin.cn/Guarantee.

“Over several decades, Mr. Chen has proven himself to possess phenomenal knowledge and ability with regards to vintage Chinese coins,” says Steven R. Eichenbaum, CEO of NGC. “The addition of Mr. Chen puts NGC in a completely different league and, as he trains other vintage authenticators and graders, NGC’s services for these coins will only continue to improve.”

“Although we have taken a conservative approach towards vintage Chinese coins in the past due to their significant complexity and the pervasiveness of counterfeits, Mr. Chen’s remarkable expertise gives us the confidence to pursue these coins much more aggressively,” adds Eichenbaum. “I expect this to be a game changer for NGC and the vintage Chinese coin market.”

The NGC ACAB will formally begin operations in Shanghai on March 13, 2017.

“I am very pleased to join NGC at this important period of growth for the company and for the coin collecting hobby in China,” says Mr. Chen. “NGC’s impeccable reputation for accuracy and integrity, coupled with input from vintage Chinese coin experts such as myself, will result in superior services for collectors and dealers of these coins.”

There is no additional fee to submit coins to the NGC ACAB and the standard NGC Submission Forms may be used.

All submissions in China should be made to an NGC Official Submission Center. To learn how to submit and view a list of Official Submission Centers in China, visit NGCcoin.cn/Submissions.

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