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Lot 22

022: CHINA 1936 Sun Yat Sen Dollar &50 Cent Pattern(2)

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Description

CHINA-REPUBLIC 1936 Silver Dollar, Sun Yat Sen and Junk Design. Kann 634, L/M 113, NGC MS60. Chang Collection; CHINA-REPUBLIC 1936 Silver Half Dollar, Sun Yat Sen and Junk Design. Kann 635, L/M 114, NGC MS62. ex Glendining Von Halle, Chang Collection. These two coins are included in a special NGC holder.
The story of China’s 1936 and 1937 Silver Dollars and Half Dollars is long and complex. Eduard Kann’s account concerning these coins is incorrect. The true story was published in a two part article by Bruce W. Smith in the Journal of East Asian Numismatics - English - issues #6 & 7 (1995); Chinese translation - issues #16 & 18 (1998). A bill passed by the United States Congress in 1934 required the American Treasury Department to buy large amounts of silver. This caused the price of silver to rise worldwide, and the unstable price forced China to abandon silver coinage in 1935 and adopt a managed paper currency.Some powerful American congressmen, who represented states which produced silver, believed that the price of silver would decline if countries stopped using silver for coinage. They put pressure on President Roosevelt to pressure the Chinese government into resuming silver coinage. The U.S. Treasury Department realized that a silver coinage could not stayin circulation when the price of silver was rising, but they reached a secret agreement with the Chinese government, under which the Chinese would announce that silver dollars and half dollars would be issued for circulation and then pretend that preparations were being made to issue the coins. But it was all a deception and both governments knew the coins would never be issued. Though some patterns were made in 1936 for a silver coinage, no coins were struck for circulation. By 1937 the American congressmen were becoming suspicious of the inaction. At some point during the first half of 1937, the Chinese government shipped 3 million ounces of silver to the San Francisco Mint to be made into coins - but no action was taken. In the autumn of 1937 the Chinese ambassador to the United States, C. T. Wang (Wang Cheng-t’ing), signed an order to produce the coins - but again, no action was taken. In the spring of 1938 the San Francisco Mint actually began striking the coins - the 1937 dated dollar and half dollar with Sun Yat Sen portrait on the obverse and an ancient spade coin design on the reverse. Though a few million pieces of each were struck, aside from a few samples sent to China, these coins never left the San Francisco Mint, and they were melted down in 1939 and sold as bullion to the U.S. Treasury.
The 1936 silver dollar and half dollar offered here have a somewhat different story. Late in 1935 the British government had sent economic advisor Sir Frederick W. Leith-Ross to China to advise the Chinese government on its coinage. Leith-Ross suggested that China mint silver coins which were .500 fine (i.e. only 50 percent silver). In 1920 England had changed its in circulation when the price of silver was rising, but they reached a secret agreement with the Chinese government, under which the Chinese would announce that silver dollars and half dollars would be issued for circulation and then pretend that preparations were being made to issue the coins. But it was all a deception and both governments knew the coins would never be issued. Though some patterns were made in 1936 for a silver coinage, no coins were struck for circulation. By 1937 the American congressmen were becoming suspicious of the inaction. At some point during the first half of 1937, the Chinese government shipped 3 million ounces of silver to the San Francisco Mint to be made into coins - but no action was taken. In the autumn of 1937 the Chinese ambassador to the United States, C. T. Wang (Wang Cheng-t’ing), signed an order to produce the coins - but again, no action was taken. In the spring of 1938 the San Francisco Mint actually began striking the coins - the 1937 dated dollar and half dollar with Sun Yat Sen portrait on the obverse and an ancient spade coin design on the reverse. Though a few million pieces of each were struck, aside from a few samples sent to China, these coins never left the San Francisco Mint, and they were melted down in 1939 and sold as bullion to the U.S. Treasury.The 1936 silver dollar and half dollar offered here have a somewhat different story. Late in 1935 the British government had sent economic advisor Sir Frederick W. Leith-Ross to China to advise the Chinese government on its coinage. Leith-Ross suggested that China mint silver coins which were .500 fine (i.e. only 50 percent silver). In 1920 England had changed its coinage from .925 fine (i.e. sterling, 92.5 percent silver) to .500 fine, and had developed a special type of edge reeding known as a security edge, in which the center part of the edge is indented and stamped with a design while the rest of the edge has the ordinary parallel indentation reeding. Leith-Ross had had some blanks made in .500 fine silver with security edge sent to China for trial striking. In the spring of 1936 the American and Chinese governments were engaged in secret negotiations under which America would buy huge amounts of silver from China as a means to provide China with money to prepare for a war with Japan. When the Chinese suggested during the discussions that they might mint silver coins .500 fine with a security edge, the negotiations were nearly cancelled. American officials saw this as suggesting some sort of monetary alliance with England - something they were determined to prevent. The plans for a .500 fine coinage with security edge were dropped. All that remained were the 1936 pattern dollar and half dollar (Kann 634 & 635). Kann does not list these coins with a security edge, but such coins do exist. The Glendining sale in London in November 1966 (Von Halle Collection) contained the half dollar with security edge, and the second Kann Collection sale in September 1971 contained the dollar and half dollar with security edge. Though Kann didn’t know about the security edge coins, this explains the table he reproduces on page 207, which contains a list of dollars and half dollars of various sizes and weights, with the notation “too thin for security rim” which were sent from the Central Bank of China to U.S. Treasury Attache at Shanghai in July 1936. From the sizes and weights we can identify these as the 1936 dollar and half dollar with Sun Yat Sen on the obverse and sailing junk on the reverse, which were undoubtedly struck at the Shanghai Mint on blanks supplied from England. These coins are historic reminders of secret deals and negotiations involving the governments of China, England and the United States.

Condition

NGC MS60, NGC MS62
Buyer's Premium

18%

Estimate $50,000 – $100,000
Starting Bid $50,000
live auction started on
Hk Auction
10:30 PM - Aug 21, 2010
Ended
Auctioneer
Champion Hong Kong Auction

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