Cataloging the Q. David Bowers / R.B. White Collection of Chinese Copper Coins

In the study of
numismatics one can learn a lifetime’s worth of knowledge in a relatively short
period of time, given the chance and right circumstances. It is not every day
that one gets the opportunity to catalog an extensive collection of any sort. The
opportunities are even fewer to catalog a cabinet of the magnitude and
specialization assembled over decades by Q. David Bowers/R.B. White. Included
in this monumental offering by Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio are many highly sought
after rarities and very interesting pieces that have been off the open market
for 50 years or longer. It was a pleasure and a great honor to catalog such a
collection, one that encompasses so much and yet is very focused.  

在研究錢幣的過程中,如若時機和環境得宜,短時間內習得的知識會令你終生受益。對任何品類錢幣的集藏來說,藏品想要達到豐富全面,都實屬不易,為這樣一個集藏撰寫圖錄的機會更是鳳毛麟角。而筆者得以為Q. David Bowers / R.B. White  歷時數十年徵得的專題集藏撰寫圖錄,著實倍感榮幸。本場拍賣是Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio的又一里程碑,當中呈現的許多拍品均是藏家爭購的珍罕版別,還有不少趣味品種五十多年來從未公開面市。這一集藏可謂是既包羅萬象,又類別分明。

produced from copper and its alloys have a deeply rooted history in Chinese
numismatics. The Spring and Autumn period (ca. 770-476 B.C.E) saw the introduction
of the first metal “coins,” these in the shape of knives and spades.
In later periods the more
familiar square-hole Cash were produced. In the late 19th century, the
Kwangtung mint, the first mechanized mint of China, was set up by the Heatons
of Birmingham, England.  It became the
largest mint in the world, surpassing facilities in London, Vienna, Berlin,
Osaka, and Philadelphia. The first issues from the Kwangtung mint had far
reaching implications, as they would set the standard design for China’s new
machine-struck coinage. In time, many modern mints were set up all over China,
resulting in a wide variety of styles and characteristics specific to individual
regions. Though nearly all were based on the first issues from the Kwangtung
mint, each has its own distinctions. 

在中國,銅及銅合金貨幣的歷史源遠流長。早在春秋時期(公元前770-476年),金屬錢幣便已出現,即刀幣和布幣等。後來又鑄造了大家較為熟知的圓形方孔錢。十九世紀晚期,中國的第一間機製幣鑄幣廠在廣東由英國伯明翰喜敦鑄幣廠(Heatons Mint)設立,鑄幣設備規模之大為世界之最,超越倫敦、維也納、柏林、大阪及費城。廣東鑄幣廠出產的第一批錢幣後成為全中國機製幣的模板,影響深遠。此後,機製幣鑄幣厰在中國各省遍地開花,雖然其他省份所產銅幣均以第一版廣東銅幣為樣本,但它們風格各異,帶有濃郁的本土氣息。

The amount of material
that was acquired by Q. David Bowers / R.B. White and then painstakingly
attributed could be overwhelming if taken in all at once. To help better
understand the depth and breadth of this astonishing collection, we will
describe selections from the late-Qing to the early Republic to highlight the numismatic
treasures it contains. 

Q. David Bowers / R.B. White集藏,是兩位資深藏家窮畢生心血收集補充的成果,洋洋大觀,須細細學習,不可急於求成。以下特摘錄部分晚清至民國時期精品,幫助讀者了解該集藏的深度與廣度。

We start with this Anhwei
“Flying Dragon” 10 Cash undated (ca. 1902-06) with the English spelling of the
province name blundered, reading “AN-HUI”. It is a type and variety that rarely
appears on today’s market.

安徽飛龍十文(ca. 1902-06),英文省名AN-HUI,現今市面罕見。

Next is a
Kiangsu-Chingkiang Pattern 20 cash

(CD 1906)
is one of only two known and the only example in private hands. The other is in
the Shanghai museum. Since the Chingkiang mint was initially set up to produce
10 cash size coins they needed additional equipment to make this denomination.
After a small number were struck it was discovered that this new minting
equipment lacked sufficient power to produce these larger size copper coins.
They were never put into full production and the equipment was eventually
disassembled and sent to the Nanjing mint.


An interesting facet of
Chinese numismatics is the existence of double obverse or double reverse
strikings such as this Chekiang 20 Cash undated (ca. 1906) that was struck
using two obverse dies.

中國機製銅幣中有一類饒有趣味的錢幣,雙面均以正面或反面模具鑄打。此款浙江二十文 ca.

Perhaps one of the most
legendary and certainly among the most recognizable issues is the Szechuan
Pattern 30 Cash undated (1904). There are two major types, the “Water Dragon”
and the “Flying Dragon”, struck in two different metals all of which are
extremely rare. It is believed that for all types combined only about 12
examples are known, with about half of those permanently impounded in


In the early years of the
Republic there was a dramatic change in the appearance of the coinage. A
departure from the standard dragon design was implemented and many patterns
were prepared, but never adopted. The Yuan Shih-kai pattern 10 Cash comes in
several iterations, but all were rejected.


The prolific die engraver
and head of the Tientsin mint from 1910-20, Luigi Giorgi, designed and presented
a number of patterns, each featuring his signature “L. Giorgi” or “L.G.” These
included what would become the standard Yuan Shih-kai 1914 Dollars and their
subsidiaries, including Cash coinage.

19101920年時任天津造幣廠總設計師Luigi Giorgi是一名多產的模具雕刻師。在他的錢幣生涯中,他設計並製作了多枚樣幣,均帶有其簽名“L. Giorgi”“L.G.”。這些簽名樣幣中便包括後來大規模發行的民國三年袁世凱像壹圓銀幣及同系列的小面額銅輔幣,譬如此枚十文。

During the Warlord period
various provinces issued coinage such as the Honan pattern 500 Cash (500 Wen)
undated (ca. 1927-28). Struck as a commemorative for the Nationalist
government, it is one of the highest denomination Chinese Copper coins ever
made, but was never placed into circulation due to a concern about rising


The “Five Goats” Pattern
Cent dated 25th year of the Republic was authorized by Governor Chen
Jitang who was so well liked by the people of Kwangtung that they dubbed him “The
Celestial King of the South”. His attempt to issue coinage was abandoned when
he was forced to flee to Hong Kong in July 1936.


The time leading up to
the second Sino-Japanese war was filled with tension and uncertainty. A series
of patterns was prepared in 1936, all of which are rare. These official patterns
never made their way into full production due to the invasion of the Imperial
Japanese army. After the July 7, 1937, Lugou Bridge Incident, General Song
Zheyuan was forced to leave Beijing and production for these ceased.


rich history can be seen through the coins issued from these various periods.
The sheer variety of what can be collected from just one region is staggering.
The coins tell a story of
political discourse, inflation, rebellion and unification. The Q. David
Bowers/R.B. White collection portrays all of this and more.​

透過不同時期的錢幣,我們盡可一窺中國歷史的博大精深。即便在同一地域,所發行的銅幣版別之多,都令人大開眼界。這些銅幣默默講述著中國的政治變遷、經濟通脹、起義割據和天下一統,而Q. David Bowers / R.B. White集藏涵蓋的主題遠不止於此,值得細細品味。

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