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    Exceedingly Fresh Trial for China's First Milled Coinage

    Kwangtung. Kuang-hsü Specimen Trial 50 Cents (3 Mace 6-1/2 Candareens) ND (1889) SP64 PCGS, Heaton mint, KM-Y197, L&M-124A, Kann-17, Sweeny-CN29s, WS-0932, cf. Wenchao-553 (for circulation strike). Reeded edge. By Alan Wyon. With denomination written as 3 MACE AND 6 1/2 CANDAREENS. A fantastic relic of one of the most historic coins in late Qing/early modern Chinese history, this gorgeous specimen positively brims with mirrorlike luster and a quality of appearance very nearly deserving of a finer technical grade. The surfaces on both sides are thickly layered with die polish lines, coupling with the painstaking execution of the devices to produce an undeniably sharp finish. Produced by the Heatons in 1888 for sale to the mint in Canton, then the largest in the world, the dies used to produce these coins represented 'trials', meant to help train Chinese mint officials in an effort to develop the nation's first milled issues. Additionally intended to supplant the circulation of various foreign silver coins within the country, most particularly the Spanish Dollar and its latter-day successor, the Mexican 8 Reales, the ensuing Chinese-produced emissions of 1889 were struck to a higher silver content than their rivals, with the Dollar containing 7 Mace and 3 Candareens of silver. Unfortunately, the experiment ended disastrously, the coins achieving the exact opposite of their intended goal; being heavier and more valuable they were hoarded and melted down to retrieve the extra Candareen of silver, very much in keeping with the principles of Gresham's Law. Moreover, the juxtaposition of English and Chinese text resulted in public outcry, requiring a redesign of the dies the following year.

    Despite the failure of this initial experiment, the design of the 1889 Dollar and its fractions served as the standard type for the coinage of all the Chinese provinces from Chihli to Fukien to Yunnan during the period from 1890 to 1907, creating an iconic legacy for these fabled forerunners. Though perhaps not struck to quite so low of numbers as originally supposed by Kann, who stated that only two trial sets of the denominations from the 5 Cents through the Dollar were produced by/for the southern mint (on this point his wording is ambiguous) before official production began, these specimens occupy a place of prominence in the series that cannot be overstated, and we fully expect this offering, one of just a handful at PCGS, to elicit fierce bidding attention as it crosses the auction block.
    Ex. Champion Auction (November 2014, Lot 318); Champion Auction (June 1996)


    中國首批機制幣「七三反版」五角樣幣

    1889年廣東省造光緒元寶三錢六分五釐銀樣幣。SP64 PCGS。
    喜頓造幣厰。齒邊。七三反版系列,幣上的面值鑄有「庫平三錢六分五釐」。清末民初舉足輕重的歷史珍品,意義不凡。此枚壓印深邃,原廠亮光,品相和更高分者相比亦毫不遜色。正背面俱有模具壓痕,圖文極緻精細,邊緣銳利,精美非凡。1888年喜頓造幣厰鑄造,出售當年全世界最大造幣厰--廣東錢局。此批模具作爲試鑄用品,予中國本地造幣厰職員考察研究,目標為製造中國史上第一批機制幣。當時,中國意欲以機制幣取代各式外國銀幣,特別是西班牙銀元及其後繼者墨西哥銀圓,因此1889年鑄造的銀幣含銀量較對手爲高,每一枚含三錢六分五釐銀。不過當時造幣試驗結果令人大失所望,甚至弄巧反拙。由於銀幣含銀量高,價值較高,被人熔掉以取得賺取差額,謂之劣幣驅逐良幣。另外,中英雙語并列的設計亦不妥,令造幣厰不得不在翌年推出新設計。雖然首次試驗以失敗告終,1889年銀幣的設計卻奠定日後機制幣的標準。1890年至1907年間北洋機器局、雲南造幣厰、福建造幣厰等各地均繼承此設計。根據耿愛德著作,在正式鑄造之前,喜頓造幣厰只造了兩套樣幣,但資料顯示實際出廠數量不只兩套,仍不減此品其連城價值。實在為中國錢幣中至為關鍵的一枚重寶。PCGS報告入評例子亦屈指可數。本次現身拍賣場上,定必引來各方注目。




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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2020
    18th-19th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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