Chinese ‘Spring’ dollar brings $885K at HKINF auction

Realizations include buyer’s premium.

A 1910 Chinese Yunnan silver dollar realized $660,000 US (about $885,000 Cdn.) as part of an online auction held in conjunction with the Hong Kong International Numismatic Fair (HKINF) this July.

Offered as Lot 30141 of Heritage Auctions’ July 12 HKINF sale, the coin brought “one of the highest prices ever paid for any Chinese coin,” according to a statement issued by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), which certified the coin.

“We are thrilled that this NGC-certified Spring dollar set the record for the most valuable Chinese coin ever sold by Heritage Auctions,” said Cris Bierrenbach, executive vice-president of international numismatics for Heritage Auctions.

“The fact that this occurred during a time when many bidders were unable to view the coin in person speaks volumes about the benefits of NGC certification.”

The coin (reverse shown) offered this July is the finest of three known examples.


Commonly referred to as a “Spring” dollar, it’s one of the greatest rarities in Chinese numismatics. Containing a year-date of spring 1910, it’s the only Chinese coin featuring the season as part of its date. Seven Chinese characters across the top roughly translate to, “Made in the Spring 1910 in Yunnan Province.”

“An enigmatic issue, one of China’s rarest coins with only three specimens known, it has been a coin of mystery and legend since its discovery, around 1920,” reads the auction catalogue. “Although there has been constant research in Chinese numismatic circles, over time no definite reason, or meaning for the term, ‘Spring 1910,’ has yet been discovered.”

The coin may have been struck as a presentation piece for the completion of an important rail line connecting the mountainous Yunnan region with neighbouring Vietnam, auctioneers added.

The finest of the three known examples, the Spring dollar offered this July is graded About Uncirculated-58 and pedigreed to the renowned Norman Jacobs Collection of Asian coins.

It previously realized $546,250 US at another Heritage sale in 2011.

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