by Kent Ponterio, Senior Numismatist and Consignment Director Stack’s Bowers / Ponterio
Among the many highlights to be offered at auction in Stack’s Bowers Ponterio April 1-4 Hong Kong auction is an extremely rare Soviet Government of Hunan Provinces star dollar. In terms of historical importance and numismatic rarity, this offering should be considered among the rarest and most significant coins offered in this auction.
This type was documented within the numismatic community as early as March of 1937 by Duncan Raeburn. An article titled “Chinese Soviet Coins and Notes” clearly illustrates an example of this type in Vol.XXVI. No.3, March 1937 issue of the Bulletin of the Numismatic Society of China.
Minted during the year 1931 by Soviet forces in Hunan province with rudimentary minting equipment, most examples are rather crudely made and exhibit various striking and planchet deficiencies. In fact, it is believed that at this time the mint was traveling with the military, producing coinage as needed. Of the handful of coins known, this example ranks among the finest in terms of strike, surfaces, appearance and overall condition. Truly a museum quality example that is sure to be a centerpiece in its new owner’s collection.
The catalog description is as follows:
Hunan Soviet. Dollar (Yuan), 1931.
L&M-886; K-801; H. Chang-CH252; Wenchao-pg.676#1074(rarity four stars); China Soviet-pg102(same dies); Bulletin of the Numismatic Society of China-Vol.XXVI. No 3. March 1937, pp 119-124, pg.3#2. Minted in 1931 for the Soviet Government of Hunan Province. In this chaotic time, new coinage was issued in order to both stabilize the economy as well as the new government. The obverse depicts the Soviet hammer and sickle with a large star within a circled and beaded border. The obverse legend reads “Hunan Soviet Government” with a date of 1931. It is interesting to note the date is arranged in a western manner as 1931 which deviates from the traditional method dating coins with the year of the Republic, which in this case would have been the 20th year. Certainly this was done intentionally to make the statement that the Hunan Soviet Government was the new governing body. The reverse design bears a central value of “one yuan” or dollar flanked by crossed branches symbolizing the good harvest. This reverse design was clearly adapted from the reverse of earlier Yuan Shih Kai dollars, a coin of which the early Soviet forces made imitations in order to purchase goods in Nationalist controlled areas. EXTREMELY RARE as only a small number of examples are known to exist. Some light evidence of old cleaning is now obscured by old collection toning. Very attractive and one of nicest and best struck examples of this type we have record of. Historically very important as this coin represents one of the earliest Chinese Soviet Dollars and should be considered one of the first dollars of the Peoples Republic.
PCGS Genuine-Cleaning Secure Holder.