Rare Yuan Shih-kai Pattern Dollar

August is shaping up to be a busy month for Stack’s Bowers. We have our auction held in conjunction with the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Chicago as well as our Hong Kong Showcase Auction. This particular Hong Kong auction boasts a multitude of classic Chinese rarities and an incredible variety of modern Chinese pieces. In the coming weeks we will preview highlights from this auction. Today’s preview is a seldom seen Republic Dollar featuring a three-quarter profile of Yuan Shih-kai.

This elegant coin features a three-quarter view portrait of Yuan Shih-kai in his military uniform. The details of his military jacket are identical to the standard issue left facing profile coin. The Chinese inscription that appears above Yuan Shih-kai’s bust provides the date and the issuing authority; “Republic of China, Third Year”. The reverse features two prominent Chinese characters meaning “One Dollar” vertical within an ornate wreath (again, this design is shared by the circulation issue). Two major varieties exist of this pattern, which was designed by chief engraver Luigi Giorgi. This is the first type, unsigned and produced from dies with a brilliant finish. A lustrous obverse complements the handsome portrait, with toning found to the peripheries. The reverse features seldom encountered and truly appealing olive green toning, with faint iridescent hues found along the rim. Tied with one other piece for finest certified at NGC. PCGS grades this issue as specimen, of which there is just one in this numeric grade with none finer. This is an excellent example of this rare and highly sought after type.

Like most historical figures Yuan Shih-Kai’s legacy is complex. 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 competing 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 popular during its time, and was minted for nearly ten years after his death.

Look for this and other Asian and world numismatic rarities in our upcoming August Hong Kong Showcase Auction and Sale. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this July 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 Galleries August Hong Kong Showcase Auction is still open for consignments, but time is running short. 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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