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The Mukden Tiger Attacks!

This is the small 1/10 yen Pn12 from the eight piece Year 3 (1870) pattern set created to launch a modern age of milled coins for Japan.

This is the small 1/10 yen Pn12 from the eight piece Year 3 (1870) pattern set created to launch a modern age of milled coins for Japan.

Following up on our April issue Pinnacle previews from the Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio Hong Kong sale, we note that records were set for some of the rarest and finest coins the world has to offer.

One of the world’s most respected coin auction firms, Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio excels in acquiring top notch consignments and realizing the best prices on both sides of the globe. In the Hong Kong based Pinnacle Collection auction the firm sold the 'Joseph/Richter' specimen of the rare 1825 pattern ruble of Constantine for an astounding $2.64 million. This was the highest realization in the magnificent Pinnacle Collection, which featured many record breakers and market makers on its way to realizing a total of nearly $19.2 million.

We reviewed the history of the Constantine pattern ruble in the April issue of World Coin news. If you missed it, I’d encourage you to take a moment and read it in your print issue or check out R. W. Julian’s excellent historical article on the Constantine ruble on our website at

The Japan Year 3 (1870) set of pattern coins for the first modern milled coinage of Japan sold for $1.56 million and surely will remain with their current owner for a long time. The earliest style Japanese Oban from the Pinnacle Collection brought $1.92 million and will likely also remain out of sight for quite a while. Both of these lots were covered in our April preview as well, so look back to learn more about their interesting histories.

One important coin I did not preview in the April issue was the Chang Tso Lin or “Mukden Tiger” pattern dollar of Year 17 (1928). A substantial Chinese rarity, the Mukden Tiger pattern in the Pinnacle Collection was also an extremely high quality example which realized a stunning $2.28 million from a high end estimate of $250,000. This $2.28 million realization represents the highest price ever paid for any Chinese coin.


The coin presents a facing portrait of Chang Tso Lin, the “Mukden Tiger” and warlord of Manchuria. Born into poverty, in his youth he turned to banditry and earned a reputation similar to Robin Hood amongst the local populace. Chang would incorporate his bandit gang into the National army, forming his own militia loyal to him. With an army behind him Chang took advantage of the Central Government’s weakness during the aptly named “Warlord Era of China” making Manchuria his own fiefdom.

After consolidating his power in the area, he built a massive personal fortune and indulged himself with a huge chateau-style mansion and five wives. With the military strength of Manchuria behind him, he was successful in his invasion of Peking (modern-day Beijing) and became the de facto leader of the internationally recognized government of China in 1926. He declared himself the Generalissimo of the Military at this apex of his career. In commemoration of this victory, he would have coins struck, including the extremely rare pattern Dollar sold through Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio in the Pinnacle Collection offering.

For more information from the Pinnacle Collection auction and to learn more about upcoming Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio sales, check out their website at See my early preview of the world coin offerings scheduled for the August Stack’s Bowers ANA auction elsewhere in this issue.