World Coins

Srangs are Tibet’s first machine-made coins

A 1909 silver srang coin of Tibet realized $2,760 during a Nov. 26 auction in Macau.

Coin images courtesy of Champion Hong Kong Auctions.

Modern machine-struck coinage came to Tibet in the first decade of the 20th century, with production of these first silver srang pieces starting in 1908.

An example of this early mechanized coinage sold in Champion Hong Kong Auctions’ Nov. 26 auction in Macau.

The 1909-dated silver srang coin, graded About Uncirculated 55 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., realized $2,760 U.S., including the 15 percent buyer’s fee. The coin had an estimate of $2,000 to $4,000. 

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The coin was produced during a period of geopolitical turbulence in the area. 

Shortly before the British military invasion reached Lhasa in 1904, the dalai lama fled to Mongolia and later to Peking (Beijing). He returned to Lhasa in December 1909, but in February 1910, a Chinese army marched into Lhasa, and the dalai lama fled again, this time to India.

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This coin, with the traditional design, was struck at the Dode Mint, but because the coin is dated Year 1 of the Chinese Emperor Hsuan T’ung (Xuan Tong), the coin was not popular in Tibet, according to the auction house. Several die varieties of this coin are known to exist.

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