The last of the imperial silver crowns—the iconic 1911 "Dragon in the Clouds" Dollar—is easily one of China’s most recognizable issues. Designed by Luigi Giorgi of the Central Mint at Tientsin (where he served as head designer and chief engraver from 1910-1920), this motif underwent several transformations and modifications before a suitable design was chosen. Special presentation pieces reflecting many of these rejected designs have become some of the most desirable of all Chinese struck silver issues. Such a specimen is this week’s featured masterpiece from the Pinnacle collection—the immensely popular Long-Whisker Dragon Dollar Pattern with adopted reverse which, in the sequence of designs, was near the final iteration. The reverse design is distinctly different from most other patterns of this series, with characteristics that are easily recognizable. Perhaps the aspect that stands out most is the fine artistic style of the Manchu calligraphy, with long, clean, deliberate strokes and nicely formed characters. The script used for the Chinese central and lower legends is crisp, elegant, and well executed. Clearly great care and attention was paid during the engraving process for this design which was ultimately chosen.
It is the obverse design, however, with its depiction of the Long Whisker Dragon, that has become a favorite among collectors due to its appealing features and uniqueness. One aspect that sets the lovely Pinnacle Collection example apart is its beautiful and original looking patina. Clearly this specimen sat for a prolonged period of time undisturbed, ultimately preserving much originality and developing a very pleasing appearance. Additionally, it is important to mention that Mr. Giorgi designed two of the most prolific issues in Chinese numismatics: the final imperial issue, as mentioned above, and the first issue from the nascent Republic—the year 3 (1914) Yuan Shih-kai Dollar. Both of these issues saw significant circulation and massive production runs.
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We are always seeking coins, medals, and paper money for our future auctions, and are currently accepting submissions for our June Collector’s Choice Online (CCO) auction as well as our Official Auction of the ANA World’s Fair of Money in August and our fall Hong Kong Auction in October. If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact one of our consignment directors today and we will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material.