China, Republic, Chang Tso-lin (Zhang Zuolin) Gold 50 Yuan (1927) SP64+ PCGS
L&M-1031. This important lot represents the finest known example of the Chang Tso-lin (Zhang Zuolin) 50 Yuan gold piece. One of only two known, this has been consigned for sale by the direct descendants of the famous Chinese leader portrayed on the obverse of the coin. Recently graded SP64+ by PCGS, the quality of this lot is unparalleled and as a specimen striking is arguably the finest known and essentially unique example of its kind.
Minted in 1927 (Chinese Year 16), the obverse features a facing portrait of Zhang Zuolin in military uniform; the reverse has a phoenix and dragon pattern and inscriptions 16TH YEAR OF THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA and 50 YUAN. The surfaces present a remarkable, deeply mirrored finish with nicely contrasting devices and a high, sharp wire edge is seen on each side. For pedigree purposes, three tiny die depressions are seen in the obverse field to the right of Chang's portrait. Also, a microscopic nick is on the right (facing) cheek, and tiny alloy spots are on the moustache and at 10 o'clock on the outer ring on the reverse. Magnification reveals numerous mint-made vertical die polish lines in the fields on each side.
When Chang controlled Tientsin and Beijing between 1926 and 1928, the Tientsin Mint struck four silver dollars, two copper patterns for 20 Yuan and 40 Yuan gold coins and this exceedingly rare 50 Yuan gold piece. None were adopted for general circulation and are now considered pattern issues (essays). This coin is one of only two known examples, and much finer in appearance than the previously auctioned coin. It is the highest denomination coin in gold (or any other metal) issued by the Republic of China, and probably the single rarest Chinese coin of the Republican era.
This coin is verifiably descended directly within the family of Zhang Zuolin three generations to the present owner. This rarity has traveled from China to Great Britain during the WWII era, and then finally to the United States, where it has been since the late 1940's/early 1950's. Please refer to the department if you have further questions.