Dragons as a design element on Chinese coins are nothing rare, but a
very rare example of an early Dragon dollar from China is an exception.
The pattern coin, issued circa 1898 or 1899 during the reign of
Kuang-hsü, was struck for Chekiang province.
An example graded Mint State 66 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. starred
in Heritage Auctions’ June 28 and 29 auction in Hong Kong, realizing
just shy of $440,000 in U.S. funds, with the 20 percent buyer’s fee included.
The coin is cataloged as Kann 119 by Eduard Kann, in Illustrated
Catalog of Chinese Coins (Gold, Silver, Nickel & Aluminum).
Kann suggests that the mint in Chekiang, at the capital Hangchow,
began operating as early as 1896 before being dismantled and moved to
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“Then we hear that two more mints were inaugurated at Hangchow; one
in 1903, the other one in 1905, but both were closed in 1906,
remaining idle for a considerable time,” Kann wrote.
Two subsidiary silver coins (with denominations less than one
dollar) were struck in 1896, but this undated pattern was not struck
until a few years later, according to Kann.
It is “Among the rarest of all the ‘Dragon Dollar’ issues, and
seldom available to collectors of the series, with archived auction
records reflecting the offering of only three coins since 2008,”
according to Heritage catalogers.
“All three of these previously offered coins were [in Very Fine]
Details condition, with two pieces having chopmarks, and the third
showing graffiti damage,” the auction house said. “The last of these
to be sold at auction was a VF Details (Chopmark) example sold by
Heritage in December 2017 at the hammer price of $55,000.”
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The coin just sold is from the W&B Capital Collection and is one
of only three examples to be certified. The only other Mint State
example known is an MS-64 example graded by Professional Coin Grading Service.
Heritage’s cataloger considered the coin a “spectacular example,”
“truly amazing and a once in a lifetime opportunity for the collector
who wants to acquire the finest known example of a supremely rare