Choice Quality Chinese Bi Pao Ration “Sumi Calligraphy Brushes” Dollar

For this week’s highlight from the Stacks Bowers and Ponterio August 2014 Hong Kong Showcase Auction, we present a very interesting Ration Dollar from Formosa (modern day Taiwan). The Taiwan Treasury supplied the silver to produce this issue in order to pay for military rations and soldiers. These were issued during a period of uprising in 1853, which lasted several months and struck in the city of Taiwan. Once the uprising was put to an end, minting of this coinage ceased. This would suggest a very low mintage for this type.

The obverse design is dominated by the legendary treasure fountain featuring an inscription of “Never-ending Source.” This treasure fountain has lotus flowers emerging from the top as well. The Chinese legend for “Military Ration” appears to either side of the main design. Four Chinese characters below the main fountain denote: “Pure Pattern (for) general circulation.” This type is normally found with a multitude of chop marks, but this piece exhibits only a few minor chops. The obverse design is surrounded by a Greek border. The reverse features a highly interesting and iconic design: two crossed Sumi calligraphy brushes with lotus flowers and other decorative symbols. At the right and left hand side of the major design are symbols stating: “Prefectural Treasury.” Just below the crossed brushes appear three characters that indicate its weight and value: 6.8 mace. The character meaning “Ration” is embossed just below the center of the design. A few other chop marks are visible on the reverse as well. Overall this piece is of remarkable quality for the type and displays nicely toned original surfaces.

Look for this and other Asian numismatic rarities in our upcoming August 2014 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this July and August at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine, California. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at To schedule an appointment, please call 800.458.4646. Our Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio August 2014 Hong Kong Showcase Auction is still open for further consignments of Asian coins, and we are now taking consignments of world and ancient coins for our November Baltimore and New York International auctions as well. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

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