Author Topic: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?  (Read 20577 times)

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Offline SANDAC

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Hello,
I'm a regular "silent" reader of the CCF forum.  I'm most impressed with the works of PandaCollector, Badon, and others on discovering new varieties of modern Chinese coins.  These excellent discussion have motivated me to look at my own collection closely and I believe I've discovered two varieties of the 1992 5 Yuan Cai Wenji Historical Figures!  My apology if these varieties had already been discovered and discussed here or somewhere else.

First, some background:  I have a total of 19 1992 Cai Wenji purchased as several small lots from 1999 to 2000.  One of the coin was submitted to NGC recently and came back as PF 69 Cameo with a population of 1. Another word, it is the first coin of its kind submitted to NGC.  :001_smile:

Upon close examination of my collection I found two varieties:  One has a "separated ribbon" flowing freely from the left sleeve of Cai Wenji's arm, while the other variety has an "attached ribbon".  What makes the ribbon separated or attached is the polish of the background field.  The separated ribbon has a polished background thus the ribbon appears freed from her dress while the attached ribbon has a matted field so the ribbon becomes part of her dress.

Placing the two varieties side-by-side I find the "separated ribbon" coin has a matted overall appearance and thus photographed fairly easily, but the attached ribbon has a glossy overall appearance and is difficult to photograph.
 
Out of the 19 coins, I have 3 separated ribbon and 16 attached ribbon.  Interesting, huh.

Offline badon

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2011, 01:49:38 AM »
Great find! This is the first report for this variety, so good job posting it. One of these may be a restrike. From my research into the Kublai Khan coins, it appears to me that restrikes are rarer than the originals, so if I were to make a guess, I'd say the rarer one is the restrike. But, I'll have to study your photos more. It's probably more likely that it's just a variety of the originals.

Welcome to the forum!

Offline DiggingNorway

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2011, 06:34:53 PM »
I only have one, and it is separated..., nice observation!

Offline badon

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2011, 12:43:42 AM »
My best guess is that the separated ribbon is the original, and the connected ribbon is the restrike - assuming they're not both originals or restrikes.

Offline SANDAC

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2011, 07:19:42 PM »
Watching the Ebay auction for the last six months, I've seen very few 1992 female historical figures listed for sale.  In fact, I just spotted the first Cai Wenji on Ebay today.

http://cgi.ebay.com/China-Silver-Coin-5-Yuan-1992-Historical-Lady-Cai-Wenji-/270759082331?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f0a7fb95b

I think it is because the 1992 female historical figures are minor players.  They carried the political overtone of race equality and gender equality, but otherwise insignificant.  I don't think there was much demand for them.  Cai Wenji, in particular, has another problem, it has a significant manufacturing flaw:  The last three characters of the first verse, Not, See, I, are poorly made and barely readable.  The character, Not, is especially poorly done.  It is just flat wrong.  The problem is obviously enough that if there is a restrike, I imagine the flaw will be fixed then.

So the two varieties may not be original/restrike, but from two separate mints?

Offline dobedo

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2011, 09:33:17 PM »
SANDAC, First, your eBay link seemed to end prematurely before its time. Second, based on your pictures, looks like the bad Chinese characters only show up on your attached_ribbon and fine on separated_ribbon. So if there's restrike, it's likely the separate_ribbon version. Does this sound right to you?

Unfortunately I only have the flawed one with those barely readable characters, so am unable to compare them. In any case, it's such a shame. The 3 1988 coins have much better quality characters.

Offline SANDAC

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2011, 12:16:05 AM »
SANDAC, First, your eBay link seemed to end prematurely before its time. Second, based on your pictures, looks like the bad Chinese characters only show up on your attached_ribbon and fine on separated_ribbon. So if there's restrike, it's likely the separate_ribbon version. Does this sound right to you?

The separated_ribbon does have a somewhat better strike, but it only highlight the error of the character "Not".  The 2nd stroke of the Not character has an ugly blob on it, and the 4th stroke is mostly missing.  The same errors are on both the separated_ribbon and attached_ribbon.  The characters on attached_ribbon is truly terrible, but the separated_ribbon didn't fix the real glaring error, in my view.


I also noticed that the Ebay auction ended prematurely, only a day after it was posted.  The auction was going quite nicely with 8 bids at $103.50 last.  I don't know why the seller ended it.  Cold feet?

Offline badon

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2011, 12:17:49 AM »
Not cold feet. It was probably sold to somebody paying big bucks for it immediately.

Offline SANDAC

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2011, 12:56:08 AM »
Not cold feet. It was probably sold to somebody paying big bucks for it immediately.

It must be quite a bit over the $103.50.  I mean, if I were the the seller and I got 8 bids the first day and some one offer me twice the current bid to take it off market, I'm not sure I would go for that.  Just let it rides, the night is still young...  I just don't have any experience with this.

Offline badon

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2011, 01:06:13 AM »
The damaged characters are due to excessive die polishing. The characters used to be on the die, but they got polished away. I suspect the design was pressed into the die too deeply, and it was what made the frosted area remain after polishing on the connected ribbon. Once the die makers saw they were polishing out the characters, they stopped polishing, and left the ribbon connected.

Offline SANDAC

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2011, 01:31:57 AM »
Thank you for that very interesting explaination!

I don't know much about the coin making process.  I noticed the connected ribbon also has a glossy finish while the separated_ribbon has a matte finish.  Is that consistent with the excessive die polishing theory?

Offline badon

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2011, 01:48:42 AM »
The glossier finish is probably because it was frosted in a different way, and maybe also because it is a later die state. The differences in the frosting are what make me think one of them is a restrike and the other is an original. It's all very uncertain though. Right now, it seems the very sandy finish is mostly seen on coins that I believe are probably originals.

What we really need is LOTS of coins to examine and compare together to decide for sure which ones are restrikes and which ones are originals. Right now. it's a lot of guessing, with just the exception of the kublai khan, which I've studied personally (so less guessing).

Offline dobedo

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2011, 08:37:30 AM »
SANDAC's sample size of 19 is much better than my 1. The mintage figures for this coin I've seen include 30,000 (planned?) and 7,000 (actual?) How many more samples (or percent of total population) do we need to make such comparisons statistically significant and less guessing?

Also, SANDAC, what do you think a reasonable price for your one and only PF69 is? I saw a similar PF68 1988 Li Quingzhao sold for about $120 recently (I saw it too late), although it has a higher mintage (30,000/13,000) than your Cai. I just love those lovely ladies with characters, regardless how insignificant they were historically.

Offline SANDAC

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2011, 09:49:56 PM »
I use Mr. Ge Zhu Kang's mintage number as published in http://modernchinacoins.com/modernchinacoins/CHINESE_HISTORICAL_FIGURES.html
According to that, 1992 historical figures have a mintage of 10155, 3rd in the historical series with 1989 (5679) being the rarest.  You wouldn't have thought of that given the active 1989 Kublai auction in eBay, and the 1992 series are few and far in between. 

My theory for the disparity is that figures in 1992 series are either fictional or minor actors, AND it was 2-3 years after June 4 1989 where Chinese coins collecting was at a low ebb, AND Cai Wenji had glaring production flaws, so most of the 1992 coins are melted down!   :w00t:


Offline SANDAC

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Re: Two varieties of 5 Yuan 1992 Cai Wenji Historical Figures?
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2011, 09:59:24 PM »
Here is a question for PandaCollector or Badon:  Given there are newly discovered and readily identifiable varieties of 1992 Cai Wenji, how do I go about informing NGC/PCGS of these varieties so the proper label can be placed on the slab?  Thanks