Auction Name: 2021 June 24 - 25 HKINF World Coins Signature Auction - Hong Kong
Lot Number: 38098
Shortcut to Lot: HA.com/3092-38098
Hsüan-t'ung silver Pattern "Long-Whiskered Dragon" Dollar Year 3 (1911) MS63 NGC, Tientsin mint, KM-Pn304, Kann-223, L&M-28, Chang-CH26 var. (different obverse die), WS-0040, Wenchao-105 (rarity 3 stars), Chang Foundation-33 var. (different obverse die). Pointed petals variety with raised veins in outer leaves. A type that is as renowned for its extreme rarity as it is for its undeniable artistic prowess, the 1911 Long-Whiskered Dragon Pattern by Luigi Giorgi is among the most instantly recognizable and fiercely sought of late Imperial silver Dollars. Stemming from a program by the Emperor to unify the national currency that employed an Italian die-cutting firm to work with the Central Mint in designing a new dollar coin, the artistry seen here is nothing short of exquisite--even the scales of the smiling dragon's coiled body are carefully picked out and painstakingly expressed, while the characters are deeply impressed and just slightly rounded to give a special specimen-like feel. Both sides contain a natural pearl-like coloration, backlit by a champagne hue with mottled notes of blue around the dragon. Nearing the peak of the NGC census (MS64 being the highest grade awarded by that company), we would note that both the Wa She Wong and Norman Jacobs examples only certified at MS61.
While numerous die varieties are known for the issue--mainly characterized by the forms of the leaves and the Manchu in the margins of the obverse (reverse as holdered here)--the die style seen here bears special affinities with that used on the subsequent Short-Whiskered type, the rightmost leaf showing considerably fewer "spines" than either of the two pieces listed by Chang under CH26 and CH27, or the example illustrated in the Chang Foundation collection catalog, owing to a slightly weaker engraving in these features.