Featured Chinese Coin Silver Ashtray with a Message

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Al Kowsky, Aug 11, 2019.

  1. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    I bought the hand wrought coin silver ashtray pictured below in Santa Barbara, CA in 1971 along with 6 sycee ingots for the melt value of silver :D. The ashtray was probably made in the 1920s, is 3.875 in. in diameter, & weighs 76.5 gm. It has a one yuan (silver dollar) coin dated 1914, & pictures Yuan Shikai, 1st president of the Republic of China. The reverse has the stamped hallmarks of the silversmith to the left of the coins denomination. Collectors affectionately call these "Fat Man Dollars."
    When the Qing Dynasty was overthrown on February 12, 1912, two factions fought for control of the new republic, the Kuomintang (KMT) lead by Sun Yat-sen, & the Nanjing Provisional Senate lead by Yuan Shikai. Yuan managed to gain control & conducted a rigged election making himself 1st president of the republic. Yuan cracked down on the KMT & forced Sun Yat-sen to flee to Japan. Yuan turned out to be the wrong man for the job :rage:. He was well known among the public for his corruption, narcissism, & cruelty. During the Boxer Rebellion Yuan sided with the foreign powers instead of backing his own people. His forces massacred tens of thousands of his own people during the rebellion in Zhili Province :eek:. As president his lavish spending on luxury goods increased the ire of the public. Yuan was married & had 9 concubines, who bore him 17 sons :rolleyes:. Sensing his power was beginning to weaken, Yuan attempted to re-institute Confucian ideas from the old monarchy of the Qing Dynasty. He believed by restoring the old monarchy he & his regime would be well entrenched to control the angry public. The Empire of China was set to begin on January 1, 1916, with Yuan assuming the title of Hongzian Emperor :smuggrin:. This was the straw that broke the camels back :jawdrop:! Wide spread opposition was growing among the public & many of the world powers who had financial interests in China. Yuan was forced to abandon his ambitious scheme 83 days later & resign as president :(. He died of uremia on June 6, 1916, at the age of 56.
    The silversmith who made this ashtray had a not so subtle message for the owner :p; the smoker using this ashtray would butt out his cigarette on the image of Yuan, & cover it with ashes :hilarious:. What a great way to express your indignation & hatred for such a vile man.

    IMG_8815.JPG IMG_8814.JPG
    References: Standard Catalog of WORLD COINS, 1801-1991, 18th edition, Chester L. Krause, & Clifford Mishler.

    The Far East, A History of Western Impacts and Eastern Responses, 1830-1975. Paul H. Clyde & Burton F. Beers

    Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
    Chris B, Hoky77, Curtisimo and 4 others like this.
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  3. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Interesting background info on the coin itself. And quite a thinking on the silversmith side. :joyful:
  4. gxseries

    gxseries Coin Collector

    I am somewhat suspecting that the history of this ashtray is more complicated than what many think.

    I see "Taiwan" chopmarked which makes this quite intriguing. I cannot make out the middle chopmark and the last chopmark is silver.

    Good thing is an ashtray like this is worth easily 200+ despite this being set in an ashtray. The value may be different because of the chopmark.

    Quite interesting...!
    mlov43 likes this.
  5. Nolan Workman

    Nolan Workman Well-Known Member

    Is their currency today, named after this guy?
  6. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    gxseries, Thanks for your input ;). I was hoping someone would be able to read the chop marks. Your suspicion is also worthy of serious consideration o_O. As you know, members of the KMT fled China when Mao Zedong's revolution began picking up steam. Maybe the original owner brought this ashtray with him to Taiwan... Certainly this object would have been confiscated during the Cultural Revolution.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
  7. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Nolan Workman, the word yuan has been around longer than Yuan Shikai. :)
  8. Nolan Workman

    Nolan Workman Well-Known Member

    Even on my 73 birthday, I learned something new. Thanks.
  9. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Nolan Workman, I guess there's hope for us "old fogies" :D. BTW, Happy Birthday!
    Nolan Workman likes this.
  10. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    That's a great question actually. The word Yuan has been around FOREVER, and is the linguistic basis for the Japanese Yen, and the Korean Won, and probably some other currencies I'm not aware of.

    Of note, "yuan" is sometimes synonymous with "money" or "currency" in general.
    For example, "mei yuan" is US Dollar, "o yuan" is Euro, "ao yuan" is Australian dollar, etc...
    Nolan Workman likes this.
  11. Dnas

    Dnas Active Member

    It's not actually the linguistics, or similarities in sound.
    It's the shape. The silver "dollar" standard was adapted (from Mexican 8 Reals), to Japan as the first western style coin, which was circular.
    In Japan circle or round = "en" or "yen".
    In Korean, circle = "won" .
    In Chinese, circle = "quan" or "yuan".
    If you look at the symbols/kanji for circle, it's the same as the symbol for the currency unit.

    .... Originally synonymous with circular money. US dollar = American round = meiguo Yuan, or just "mei Yuan"
    Nolan Workman and hotwheelsearl like this.
  12. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    You sure schooled me there!
  13. gxseries

    gxseries Coin Collector

    It's interesting to note that the 'yuan' character was used in official coinage at different years between Japan, Korea and China.

    Japan's first silver crown was issued in 1870, followed by Korea in 1893 which is extremely rare. (The first silver crown coin was issued the year before - 5 yang).

    China however had silver crowns issued by various provinces. I believe the first crown coin was issued in Kwangtung province around 1897 (no date) - could be wrong. Kirin province had issued patterns much earlier but I'll leave that aside. The first usage of yuan is only when China is unified and issued coins under China Republic. First yuan coin if I am right was issued in 1914. All other coins were issued in terms of weight - 7.2 mace.

    Finally if you consider Hong Kong, which was part of a British colony, they did issue a dollar / yuan coin in 1868.

    Pretty interesting eh?
    hotwheelsearl likes this.
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