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.