World Coins

Finest known Chinese 1928 Auto dollar in auction

What may be the most famous classic coin from China highlights Champion Coin Auctions’ Dec. 3 sale in Macau. The 1928 silver Auto dollar from Kweichow has a pre-sale estimate of $30,000 to $60,000 U.S.

Images courtesy of Champion Coin Auctions.

The finest known Auto dollar of a specific variety highlights Champion Coin Auctions’ Dec. 3 sale in Macau.

The 1928 silver dollar from China’s Kweichow Province was issued to honor Governor Chou His-cheng, who had just completed a motor road through his province. According to cataloger Bruce Smith, the road was actually built as part of a famine relief operation and was financed in part by the International Famine Relief Commission.

An American engineer, O.J. Todd, who was in charge of the project, wrote a book about his work in China that included photographs of Governor Chou and his car. The car, an American model, was purchased in Canton, taken apart and carried by foot to Kweichow, where it was reassembled. It was the only car in the province. The road went north and west from Kweiyang, but did not connect with any other road. 

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Smith suggests that the coin was struck in Kweichow on machinery looted from the Chungking Mint by Chou’s soldiers. 

The name of Hsi Chien is hidden below the car among the grass; the example in the auction is of the type to feature three blades of grass. 

According to Smith: “Though made in a remote province, this coin was eagerly sought by collectors shortly after it was issued. As a result, a large percentage of those struck survive today in collectors’ hands. Nearly all, however, circulated for a time, and today less than half a dozen Uncirculated examples are known to exist.”

Champion offers an example graded Mint State 61 by Professional Coin Grading Service, the highest graded example of this coin by PCGS. 

This coin has an estimate of $30,000 to $60,000 in U.S. funds.

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