On December 16th an extremely rare Chang Tso-Lin 50 Yuan gold coin is due to go to auction at Bonhams in New York that has been submitted by the direct descendants of this famous Chinese leader.
So rare is the coin that it is only the second example known to exist and is being recognized as the finer of the two. Bonhams therefore expect it to sell for between £400,000 and £470,000. In doing so, this unique piece would set a new record price for the Chinese coin market.
Chang Tso-Lin, or Zhang Zuolin in pinyin, was one of the most successful of the Chinese warlords in Republican China and ruled Manchuria as a dictator between 1916 and 1928. He was in the precarious position of having to maintain a balance of relations with the great powers of Russia and Japan to his north and east, whilst later engaging in warfare with other Chinese warlords to his south.
The coin itself features a portrait of Chang Tso-Lin dressed in his military uniform on the obverse, with the reverse having a phoenix and dragon pattern bearing the inscription ’16TH YEAR OF THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA’ and ’50 YUAN’. Not intended to be released into general circulation and so considered to be a pattern, or essay issue, this coin is believed to be the highest denomination of any coins issued in the Republic of China and almost certainly the rarest. It was likely kept by Chang Tso-Lin personally and so the provenance attached to it surely does not come much higher.