World Coins

What's the story behind this old silver medal?

Readers Ask column from Dec. 26, 2016, issue of Coin World:

I am having a hard time identifying the attached silver coin or medal. It was sitting in one of my boxes, likely purchased years ago. It’s a little larger than the Walking Liberty half dollar.

Michael Fey  /  via email

I sent the images Fey provided via email to medallic art researcher David T. Alexander. Here’s what David — who pens “The Research Desk” column for the third issue of Coin World every month — says:

“I believe this to be a military bravery medal of the ‘Young Marshal’ Chang Hsueh-liang as warlord of Manchuria in succession to his father Chang Tso-lin.

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“The Young Marshal adhered to Chiang Kai-shek until getting himself involved with the abduction of Chiang at Sian [Xi’an] with the Chinese Communists. Chiang escaped and captured the Young Marshal who was kept a kind of court prisoner for the rest of his life even in exile on Taiwan.”

David adds, “Many Chinese decorations are of great value in 2016.”

Struck in silver, the medal was presented in 1936 by Chang Hsueh-liang to graduating officer-cadets at an officer training school he established in Xi’an, in today’s Shaanxi Province, People’s Republic of China. 

Chang Hsueh-liang ruled northeast China and much of northern China following the June 4, 1928, assassination of his father by the Japanese. Chang Hsueh-liang was among masterminds of the 1936 Xi’an Incident, when Chiang Kai-shek, leader of China’s ruling party, was arrested in a plot to force him to enter into a truce with the insurgent Communists to form a united front against Japan.

Chiang Kai-shek agreed, and Chang Hsueh-liang accompanied him back to the capital, but without loyalist backing. Chang Hsueh-liang was placed under house arrest. Following Chiang Kai-shek’s death in 1975, Chang Hsueh-liang’s freedom was restored. He and his wife emigrated to Hawaii in 1993, where he died in 2001 at age 100.

A Numismatic Guaranty Corp. Mint State 62 example of the medal sold in a 2012 Heritage Auctions sale for $4,312.50.

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