Superb Gem Yuan Shih-kai Tall Hat Dollar

The Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio world coin team is very excited for our inaugural December Macau Showcase Auction. It will be a very interesting sale, full of highly desirable and collectible material. Today we preview a lovely example of a vintage Chinese rarity, a Yuan Shih-kai Tall Hat Dollar. This coin bears the effigy of Yuan Shih-Kai, an influential leader from China’s early Republican period. Like most historical figures Yuan Shih-Kai’s legacy is complex and also fraught with negative repercussions. He was an important general and politician, best known for his military reforms and his role in the transition from monarchy to a republic in China at the turn of the century. Yuan’s greatest achievement turned out to be a double-edged sword, as his military reforms fostered a loyalty that resulted in rival warlords who competed with each other after his death. This fractioning of the army, coupled with his bid to restore the monarchy (with himself as emperor) eroded the ideals of the Republican movement he had helped establish. Despite this negative association from later historians, his coinage proved immensely popular during its time, and was minted for nearly ten years after his death.

This elegant coin features a front-view portrait of Yuan Shih-kai in full military regalia. His jacket proudly displays his medals and decorations for his years of service in the military; a sash is visible running across his chest from his right shoulder, and epaulets add significant prestige to his bust. Also eye-catching is Yuan’s high-feathered military hat, which symbolized his status at the pinnacle of the Chinese Republican military and government. The reverse for contains the necessary coin information since the obverse features only the portrait. The upper inscription states in Chinese: “To commemorate the union of the Republic of China.” An elaborate rosette composed of a cross within a diamond with four circles separates the upper legend from the lower English legend of “One Dollar.” A border separates the outer inscriptions and the inner design of a good harvest. Two sprigs of grain form a wreath around the two Chinese symbols denoting “One Yuan (Dollar).” This coin is tied with three other pieces graded Mint State 67 by PCGS. The strike is choice, and borders on proof or specimen quality. The toning is an attractive faint yellow-gold with exceptional luster present.

Look for this and other Asian and world numismatic rarities in our upcoming December Macau Showcase Auction and Sale. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this November 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. While our Stack’s Bowers Galleries December Macau Showcase Auction is no longer open for consignments, we are currently taking consignments of Asian and world coins for our April 2015 Hong Kong Showcase Auction of Asian Coins and our August 2015 ANA World’s Fair of Money Showcase Auction. 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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