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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)


    1889年廣東省造光緒元寶三錢六分五釐銀樣幣。SP64 PCGS。

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2020
    18th-19th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,283

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