Written by Kyle Ponterio, Numismatist and Consignment Director, World and Ancient Coins
Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio’s world “coin of the week” is an extremely rare Anhwei Pattern dollar dated Year 23(1897). This remarkable rarity was unknown to many old time collectors, catalogers and numismatic researchers. The Chinese numismatic expert Eduard Kann located the 20 cent from this series in the collection of Mr. Kalgan Shih, Shanghai 1947, however at that time he was unaware of any other denominations from this series. Mr. Shih states in his reference “Modern Coins of China” 1948, “The experimental pattern was made in 1897, but the date was changed to 1898 when issued”. Only four denominations are known from this series -- the 7 Mace 2 Candareens (dollar), 3 Mace 6 Candareens (50 cent), 1 Mace 4.4 Candareens (20 cent) and 3.6 Candareens (5 cent), all of which are considered extremely rare. Originally the German firm of Louis Schuler was commissioned to supply machinery for the manufacture of this coinage. Recently production materials that included patterns, dies, hubs and a series of punches surfaced from the archives of the Otto Beh Company, Esslingen, Germany. Before this discovery the origin of the dies used to produce coinage for the provinces of Anhwei, Chekiang, Fengtien, Heilungkiang and Sungarei was only speculation. Otto Beh specialized in the production of seals and dies and was commissioned to manufacture coining dies by Louis Schuler from neighboring Goppingen, who received an order for coining presses in 1895. In 1897 and 1898 Otto Beh supplied Schuler with over 200 dies for Chinese coins, which at that time was the largest order that the company had ever received. Schuler, which started as a locksmith’s shop in 1839, had grown to become one of the world’s leaders in metal forming and in fact supplied the above mentioned mints with coining presses.
The Anhwei mint, formerly located in the city of Anking, was originally founded in the 23rd year of Kuang Hsu (1897). Initially this mint was established for the purpose of producing local silver coinage with the intent of replacing the then popular 8 Reales. Clearly this goal was not achieved, as the 8 Reales remained in circulation well into the 20th century. Anhwei mint silver coinage generally remains scarce to rare, suggesting rather small mintages. This short lived mint produced coinage for approximately two years before coining operations ceased and the mint was dismantled. Perhaps the reason for the short tenure of this mint was the lower purity metallic content of its silver emissions. Coinage from this province was not widely accepted by neighboring provinces as it was found to be lower purity silver than the products of other mints. This is perhaps the reason silver issues from this mint are often found with many chop marks. After the mint was dismantled, a new mint in Anhwei was established in the 28th year of Kuang Hsu (1902), however its activities were limited to the production of copper coinage. Production of all Anhwei silver coinage occurred at the first mint in Anking. This extremely rare silver plated pattern is for the first dollar of the Anhwei mint and can best be described as a specimen or essay. It is clearly of special manufacture intended for presentation purposes. It exhibits a bold full strike with all characters and details sharp and fully stuck up.
The English letters "T. A. S. C." are neatly placed in a clockwise manner in the field, Wenchao suggests its meaning as an abbreviation of "TATSING AN-HWEI SILVER COIN", meaning "Anhwei silver coin of the Great Qing". This is one of the rarest dollars in the provincial dragon series with only a few examples known today and missing from many major collections including Eduard Kann, Irving Goodman and Wa She Wong. Of the highest importance and utmost rarity, this is sure to be the centerpiece of its new owner’s collection.
Look for this and other Asian numismatic rarities in our upcoming April Hong Kong Sale. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this March at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine, California. For details please refer to the Auction Schedule/Details link under Current Auctions at www.StacksBowers.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 800.566.2580.