Exquisite Specimen Kiangnan 1897 20 Cents

Stack’s Bowers is excited to present another highlight of our upcoming August Hong Kong Showcase Auction, in this case a great type in superlative condition from Kiangnan Province. The province of Kiangnan was originally composed of the Anhwei and Kiangsu provinces, but by the time this piece was minted in 1898 separation had already occurred.  The name Kiangnan translates to "South of the river" and refers to the Yangtze. The largest mint for this period was located in the capital of Nanking. The coins from this series were inscribed with "Made in Kiangnan Province" to differentiate them from the copper pieces from Kiangsu province.

The most significant feature of this coin is the stylization of the dragon on the obverse. This type has been identified as the "Old Kiangnan" style. The outer border contains the English legend that mirrors the Chinese reverse: "Kiangnan Province" at the top and "1 Mace and 4.4 Candareens" along the bottom. These inscriptions are separated by six pointed stars. The image of an eastern styled dragon with a large head, wound up in a wide retrograde "S" shape, dominates the central design. The dragon is separated from the outer inscriptions by a linear border. This dragon is also releasing a fiery pearl from his mouth, typical of the provincial style. The enormous eyes of the dragon seem to stare intensely out at the observer, and make for a truly memorable coin.

Generally, this coin follows the established pattern for provincial issues but with some notable exceptions. The reverse contains the usual informative Chinese inscriptions, along the top border it reads "Made in Kiangnan Province." The lower border inscription describes the denomination of coin, in this case "1 Mace and 4.4 Candareen (20 Cents)." The upper and lower inscriptions are separated by two six-pointed stars. The inner legend contains a larger Chinese and smaller Manchu inscription that describes the coin in general terms: "Valuable Coin of the Kuang Hsu (regime)." The noticeable variations for the obverse of this type are the two distinct borders. The first is the far outer edge, which features a crenulated pattern which looks akin to waves crashing right. The inner border that separates the outer ring from the inner legend is an alternating chain pattern of capital "S" figures. These features set this piece apart from the various other provincial issues. This example features a crisp strike with hard mirror fields, frosted devices, brilliant luster and even iridescent tone. PCGS has certified this example as SP-67, which makes this coin the finest certified of this type, and tied with one other example (1905, L&M-264) for the title of finest certified Kiangnan 20 Cents at either NGC or PCGS.

While we are no longer accepting consignments of Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our August 2018 Hong Kong Showcase Auction we are accepting consignments for the April 2019 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. In addition, we are taking consignments of world and ancient coins and world paper money for our October 2018 Collector’s Choice Online Auction as well as the January 2019 New York International 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) contact one of our consignment directors.

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