Kiangnan beauty

On April 9, 2014, in Chinese Coins, byDragon Dollar

Basking in the diffuse light of the Beijing sky, five beauties from the Kiangnan province are quietly witnessing the end of another day. Everything under the setting sun is suddenly tinged with a nostalgic golden colour.

Kiangnan - 1898 Circlet-like scales dragon, cloud under K

Kiangnan – 1898 Pearl scales dragon, cloud under K

This glistening “Circlet-like scales” dragon is a rare breed. The doubled die turned its armour into a chainmail, delicately adorned with pearls. Below the K of Kiangnan Province, a lonely cloud has been struck in silver. The 江南戊戌珍珠龙K下多云 is an extremely rare variety, especially that well preserved. Most of the known specimen have already been worn down by a century of turmoil.

Kiangnan – 1898 Pearl scales dragon with long spines and no tongue

Kiangnan – 1898 Pearl scales dragon with long spines and no tongue

Collectors often wish coins could talk. This dragon would still be unable to tell them what it went through: he never had a tongue to begin with. His body covered in pearls is but skin and bones, meager and bristled with longer spines. The 江南戊戌长毛无舌珍珠龙 is a war-weary survivor, but it is still more easy to find than its cloudy cousin. This specimen hides more distinctive features on its back:

Kiangnan 1898 Pearl scales dragon - reverse

Kiangnan 1898 Pearl scales dragon – reverse

The rightmost Manchu character is broken, like the handle of a battered teapot. The “戊” character is also missing a stroke, left forever unfinished:

Kiangnan - 1898 Pearl scales dragon (reverse detail)

Kiangnan – 1898 Pearl scales dragon (reverse detail)

This particular combination of scars is uncommon; other coins of this type were usually struck with a complete date and Manchu inscriptions. The dragons with pearl scales are especially rare and beautiful, but other remarkable varieties were made the same year.

Kiangnan 1898 Hirsute Dragon

Kiangnan 1898 Hirsute Dragon

Endowed with a luxurious beard, the 江南戊戌大胡子龙 is a very popular variety amongst Chinese coins collectors. It is especially hard to catch one with all its exuberant pilosity left intact despite the passage of time.

Kiangnan - 1898 Eyeball Rev Dot, with long denticles

Kiangnan – 1898 Eyeball Rev Dot, with long denticles

The darting glance of its silver irides and the dot on its reverse are easily identifiable: this is a 江南戊戌凸眼龙满文中心点, a famous and desirable 1898 Kiangnan variety. However, it still has a subtle je ne sais quoi which makes it more pleasing to the eye than usual. After a while, the Chinese coins collector may realise that the dragon is framed within a circle of long denticles, conferring a unique harmony to the whole. While long denticles on the obverse are nice, long denticles on both sides are better:

Kiangnan - 1898 Eyeball Rev Dot, with long denticles (reverse)

Kiangnan – 1898 Eyeball Rev Dot, with long denticles (reverse)

Of course, this tasteful variety is extremely rare. There exists a similar “long denticles” variety for the last appearance of the Old Dragon, on the 1899 已亥 Kiangnan silver dollar:

Kiangnan - 1899 Long denticles

Kiangnan – 1899 Long denticles

Like the toning on this last Kiangnan dollar, the sky has already turned dark. Then all the charm is broken, and I leave the Kiangnan beauties to their contemplation.

6 Responses to “Kiangnan beauty”

  1. Hansi says:

    Amazing coins! Amazing collection!

  2. Blair Goates says:

    Thanks for displaying these lovely coins, and describing the details of the varieties.

  3. M.Kariri says:

    I got the coin and I want to sell it, if there is interest …?

  4. asad says:

    I have dragon coin if anyone intrusted then contact me

  5. Lynne murphy says:

    I have a “KIANG NAN PROVINCE” coin, BUT it is “square”!! Any ideas? I have several others, also square from different provinces. Measurements are almost 2 inches square.

  6. Dragon Dollar says:

    Hello Lynne, this is rather strange, don’t hesitate to send me pictures of your coins using the free appraisal form:
    I am curious to see these square coins !

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