World Coins

American involvement in Chinese war includes coins

This “1898” silver peso of Mexico was actually struck after World War II at the San Francisco Mint for Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalist government, which lost to the Communists.

Coin images courtesy of Stephen Album Rare Coins.

What does a Mexican coin struck in the United States have to do with China?

It may sound like the makings of a horrible numismatic joke, but a highlight in Stephen Album Rare Coins’ Sept. 15 to 17 auction illustrates a real connection between the three countries.

During the Chinese Civil War that followed World War II, American support of the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-Shek (Kuomintang) included several billion dollars’ worth of aid and military hardware, and even the dispatch of some 55,000 U.S. troops for a time.

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In addition, the San Francisco Mint struck two million 1898-dated Mexican silver peso coins for use in China. 

An example of one of these coins, graded Mint State 65 by Professional Coin Grading Service, is offered in the Album auction. 

The original reverse of the 1898 silver peso has 139 dentils, while the restrike has 134, a diagnostic used in attributing the coins. The original coins have the tops of the Mexico City Mint mark (Mo) lined up, while on the restrikes the o in Mo is higher than the M. 

The coins were made for the Nationalist government, which had introduced a new silver-based currency. The Nationalists were losing to Mao Tse-Tung’s Communists and inflation was rampant in areas still controlled by the Nationalists.

The piece offered exhibits “lovely golden toning,” according to the auction house, and has an estimate of $220 to $300.

Additionally, the auction includes 2,242 lots of ancient, Islamic, Chinese, Indian and world coins, and numismatic literature. The sale catalog is accessible online at

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