|CHINA-KWEICHOW 1928 Auto Dollar Silver, a car door with a dot, Y428, L&M609, K757, NGC MS61, Highest graded of this variety. A PCGS AU58 sold in Heritage Apr-11 sale for US $76375
Though made in a remote province, this coin was eagerly sought by collectors shortly after it was issued. As a result, a large percentage of those struck survive today in collectors hands. Nearly all, however, circulated for a time and today less than half a dozen uncirculated examples are known to exist.
The coin was struck in 1928 for Governor Chou His-cheng who had just completed a motor road through his province. As I pointed out in my 1977 World Coin News article on this coin, the road was actually built as part of a famine relief operation, and was financed in part by the International Famine Relief Commission. An American engineer, O.J.Todd, who was in charge of the project, wrote a book about his work in China which included photographs of Governor Chou and his car. The car, an American model, was purchased in Canton, taken apart and carried by foot to Kweichow, where it was reassembled. It was the only car in the province. The road went north and west from Kweiyang, but did not connect with any other road.
It has long been believed that the Auto Dollar was struck in Szechuan province because Kweichow did not have a mint in those days. In my article I speculated that the coin might have been struck in Kweichow on machinery looted from the Chungking Mint by Chou’s soldiers. Recently an article published in China claimed that this is in fact what happened.
There exists a scarce example with a dot on the door which seemed to struck from recut dies, which is very rare in high grade. The finest known example was a NGC MS-61.