USD 75000 - 100000
民国十年徐世昌光边刻名版，附有原配包装盒及大总统府至北京协和医学院开幕典礼贵宾的书信。CHINA: Republic, AR dollar, year 10 (1921), Kann-676a, L&M-957, Hsu Shih-chang 'Pavilion' type, plain edge without bottom legend variety, hand-engraved DR. R. M. PEARCE on reverse, a lovely toned example and with accompanying original case and letter from the Office of the President of China! PCGS graded Unc details (for the engraving).
The Xu Shichang Dollar (Pavilion Dollar) is one of the most sought-after coins in Chinese numismatics. Dated Month 9 of Year 10 (1921), it depicts President Xu in a decorated Western-style suit jacket and a presidential sash. On the reverse, four figures in traditional Chinese robes greet one another on the steps of a pavilion, alongside the phrase ren shou tong deng ("Virtue and longevity ascend together"). Of all the varieties in silver, the plain-edge type with a hand-engraved name at the reverse bottom is by far the rarest, as this is only the 10th example to appear in a public auction since its first appearance in 1982. It is followed by the unengraved plain-edge type (K-676a), the unengraved reeded-edge type (K-676b), and, most commonly, the reeded-edge type with the legend ji nian bi ("commemorative coin", K-676).
The purpose behind the Pavilion Dollar is not entirely clear. Some writers have suggested it celebrates both President Xu's 66th birthday and 3rd anniversary in office (both occurring in October, which is the 9th month in the Chinese calendar). Others argue it was struck for the opening of the Peking Union Medical College (PUMC, beijing xiehe yixueyuan). Founded in 1906 by a group of British and American missionary organizations, the college sought to introduce Western medical education to China at a time when modern healthcare was practically non-existent in a nation of more than 400 million. It received generous support from the Rockefeller Foundation, which spent $8 million to construct a brand-new campus in the middle of Beijing. The dedication ceremony and the concurrent medical conference took place on Sept. 15-21, 1921. It was attended by a delegation led by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. himself. Also in attendance were many staff members of the college, government officials, as well as doctors from around China and the world.
To commemorate this event, the office of the President gave out this medal (K-676a) to the attendees, as attested by the accompanying letter. This likely took place at the dedication ceremonies on the afternoon of Sept. 19, when cabinet ministers delivered greetings on behalf of the President. Based on contemporary reports, we know that the people whose names appear on the medal were doctors (e.g. Dr. R. G. Mills) and staff (Miss Helen H. Holland) at PUMC, as well as visiting delegates (Mr. E. R. Embree) and conference attendees (Dr. J. A. Bussière). We can also surmise that many attendees received the medal but did not engrave their name on it (e.g. Dr. Andrew H. Woods), judging from the greater number of unengraved examples. This is perhaps because the engraver(s) at the event did not have enough time and only served some of the recipients, as suggested by the diverse positions of the names.
Born in Montreal, Canada, Dr. Richard M. Pearce (1874-1930) was a prominent professor of pathology based in New York City. From 1919 to his death, he was the Director of the Division of Medical Education of the Rockefeller Foundation. It was in that capacity that Dr. Pearce visited PUMC as a member of the delegation and received this medal. To our knowledge, his is the only example among the ten Pavilion Dollars to be certified uncirculated (PCGS #46508883, graded details solely due to the engraved name) and accompanied by the original case and letter. It is likely the finest example of this highly coveted type and a testament to the deep roots of US-China relations.