World Coins

Pavilion dollar leads January Stephen Album auction

A 1921 Chinese Pavilion dollar is one of the highlights of Stephen Album Rare Coins’ auction No. 48, set for Jan. 18 to 21.

Images courtesy of Stephen Album Rare Coins.

The so-called Chinese Pavilion dollar from 1921 is one of several highlights of Stephen Album Rare Coins’ auction No. 48, scheduled for Jan. 18 to 21.

The coin, also called the Xu Shichang dollar, is one of the most sought-after coins in Chinese numismatics, the firm said.

Chinese figures in the upper part of the border around the reverse date the coin to October 1921.

The obverse depicts China’s President Xu (Hsu Shih-chang) in a Western-style suit jacket decorated with a presidential sash.

On the reverse, four people in traditional Chinese robes greet one another on the steps of a pavilion, and phrase is inscribed nearby in Chinese figures that transliterate as “ren shou tong deng” and translate to “Virtue and longevity ascend together.”

Why was it made?

The purpose behind the Pavilion dollar is not documented and is uncertain.

Eduard Kann, writing in Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Coins (Gold, Silver, Nickel and Aluminum), said that the nondenominated piece was “undoubtedly minted as [a] commemorative medallion; but just as certainly admitted for circulation as a 1-dollar piece.”

Some writers suggest it celebrates both President Xu’s 66th birthday and his third anniversary in office (both occurring in October, the ninth month in the Chinese calendar).

Others argue it was struck to mark the coinciding opening of the Peking Union Medical College.

The example in the January auction is graded Uncirculated details by Professional Coin Grading Service. It has a pre-sale estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.

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