Starting price: 250 000 USDCurrent bid: 440 000 USD
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Kuang-hsü Dollar ND (1908) MS67 PCGS, Tientsin mint, KM-Y14, L&M-11, Kann-216, Shih-B6-1, Chang-CH24, WS-0029, Wenchao-93 (rarity 1 star), Chang Foundation-Unl. The coin for which, quite frankly, all metrics of comparison totally fall by the wayside, and which leaves the viewer with one very obvious impression: this is a piece that simply should not exist. If not for its mottled halo of peripheral toning--spanning from indigo at the rims to a rich caramel as it moves inwards--one would be forgiven for thinking that the offering was just minted yesterday; every inch of the fields is fully satin, allowing wave after wave of brilliant, fresh luster to weave around the planchet like the hands of a clock, unencumbered. Die polish, while characteristically fine as is the trademark of high-end machine-made Chinese coinage, finds every occasion to decorate the surfaces, though it does so subtly without strutting prominently across its velveteen canvas. Even without going into specifics, it is obvious for all to see that this selection is the undisputed finest known within the graded population, though we would mention that no other exceeds MS65 at either NGC or PCGS, this out of nearly 5,800 yet seen. Of absolutely paramount conditional rarity in this status, and surely the representative that all collectors will seek to make the display example of the type in their collections for years to come.
Perhaps the best-known Dragon Dollar from Kuang-hsü's reign, this short-lived issue--produced for only a single year--relates to a perennial problem of the late Empire: how to reconcile the issue of diverse provincial coinage into a single, unified national standard. Indeed, the problem would continue to plague the nation's rulers from Hsüan-t'ung (Pu Yi) to Yuan Shih-kai. Following the reestablishment of the Tientsin mint in 1906, after its destruction during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, the Qing government attempted to introduce a new standard to replace the then-standard monetary system of Mace-Candareens, tied to the inherently western Dollars-Cents, with a Tael system, striking a series of 4 coins including the Tael, 5 Mace, 2 Mace, and Mace (the so-called "Chung" Tael standard). Ultimately, due to provincial dissent, these issues were revoked, only to be replaced by another series of 4 coins--this time the Dollar, 50 Cents, 20 Cents, and 10 Cents--which were similarly failed due to the death of the Emperor in 1908. This series, however, left its mark with its instantly recognizable Tai-Ching-Ti-Kuo ("The Great Qing Empire") design, which proliferated on late Imperial copper coinage. From the Glorium Collection
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Estimate: 500000-800000 USD