Ordinarily a lot that brings $2,988 in an auction that realizes $10,546,612 wouldn’t get mentioned, but in this case the lot in question contains some paperwork that might tie the Philadelphia Mint to the striking of some 1916 Chinese Yuan Shih-kai Dragon gold dollars.
Overall, the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio Auctions held April 1-4 in Hong Kong offered Chinese coins and provincial issues as well as modern Chinese coins and paper money from the Wa She Wong Collection, Part III, the Frank Robinson Collection, Part II, the Dr. John Abner Snell Collection, Duplicates from the American Numismatic Society Museum Collection and the Neil Nelson Collection.
The paperwork included a written letter from Philadelphia coin dealer Henry Chapman to George T. Morgan, designer of the Morgan dollar, dated March 26, 1921 and two receipts.
Ron Gillio, who offered his theory in the April 10 issue of Numismatic News that 1916 Yuan Shih-Kai gold dollars were struck in China and some in the United States, with the U.S. version somewhat mushier in appearance.
The letter to Morgan notes a $100 payment for an engraved pair of medal dies with a portrait of a Chinese general. One receipt is for three Chinese gold medals and the other receipt is for 22 gold medals and 50 silver medals.
No mention is made of who the Chinese general is in the paperwork. Medals, of course, are not coins, so for $2,988 you get historical associations, a fascinating theory and some unanswered questions.