≡ Menu

Empress Dowager Cixi Commemorative Coin

A recent Chinese newspaper article published pictures of a very rare Chinese silver coin which is believed to have been minted to commemorate the birthday of one of imperial China’s last rulers.  The coin is owned by a Mr. He who lives in Anqing City in Anhui Province.

The Empress Dowager Cixi

The Empress Dowager Cixi

The Empress Dowager Cixi (慈禧太后 1835-1908) was a concubine of the Xianfeng Emperor.   She gave birth to a son who became the Tongzhi Emperor upon the death of the Xianfeng Emperor.

She became the regent for her young son, who was only 5 years old, and essentially established absolute rule for herself.  The Tongzhi Emperor died of smallpox at the age of 18.

She then established her nephew, the Guangxu Emperor, as the new ruler in 1875 but she remained the real power behind the throne until her death in 1908.

Coin commemorating 70th birthday of Empress Dowager Cixi

Coin commemorating 70th birthday of Empress Dowager Cixi

The beautiful silver coin shown here is believed to have been minted in 1905 to commemorate the 70th birthday of the Empress Dowager Cixi.

Two five-claw dragons, symbolizing the emperor, are on each side of the coin, and are separated by a “flaming pearl” at the very top.

In the middle of the coin is a large and very stylized version of the Chinese character shou (壽) which means “longevity”.

You will notice that the exquisite robe the Empress Dowager is wearing in the photograph is decorated with the same Chinese character.  The photograph was taken by the official court photographer in the same year of 1905.

The other side of the coin has the inscription guang xu yuan bao (光緒元寶) indicating that it was produced during the reign of Emperor Guangxu.  This silver coin was struck at the mint in Guangdong Province and the denomination is the “treasury standard one tael” (庫平重壹兩).

These coins are considered very rare with estimates of only ten or more authentic specimens known to exist.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • arne van vliet October 19, 2011, 3:54 am

    where would you find expertise to value and authenticate such a coin, and would you know if the coin described has been authenticated and by what institute. I have just been shown based on the photo in the article, an identical coin. If you can suggest any link to high quality image of both sides it would also be great.

    Thank you.

    • Gary Ashkenazy October 19, 2011, 6:30 pm

      The newspaper article does not mention how the coin was authenticated. The original article was circulated by a major Chinese news agency and subsequently published in a number of Chinese newspapers.

      Please be aware that there are many reproductions of this coin.

      According to a Chinese catalog, an authentic coin has a diameter of 40.3 mm and a weight of 37.4 grams. If the coin in question differs from these numbers then you know for certain it is a “fake”.

      For privacy reasons, I will email you some additional recommendations.

Leave a Comment