Xu Shichang, also known as Hsu Shih-chang, held the office of president of the Republic of China between October 10th, 1918 and June 2nd, 1922. His presidency, which lasted a little over four years, is remarkable among those in the Warlord Era of Chinese history (1916 – 1928) for being the longest. He was also the only civilian to be a non-acting president of the Beiyang Government (as opposed to the KMT government based in Southern China, led by Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek).
Xu Shichang was born on October 20th, 1855 and died on June 9th, 1922. His time in office was a curious one in that he was a civilian president at a time in Chinese history that was so dominated by the military. So the choice of Xu Shichang might seem a little odd, but he was chosen for his neutrality within the Beiyang Army as he had no particular allegiance to either of its Anhui or Zhili cliques but still maintained close and loyal connections with the Beiyang Army itself. The presidency became a careful balancing act for Xu, who had to play off rival factions within the Beiyang Army against each other in order to maintain his control over the military (as being a civilian he had no military power of his own), and thereby hold on to political power. His rule came to an end after he was forced out by Cao Kun, leader of the Zhili clique, after the collapse of political stability between the various factions in the Beiyang Government following the unrest caused by the May Fourth Movement (1919). The protests and periods of civil unrest were, among other things, incited by the revelation that Duan Qirui (the man who had arranged Xu Shichang’s rise to power in the first place) had agreed to cede German held land in Shandong province to the Japanese following the end of World War I, instead of taking the land back for China.
The Hsu Shih-chang Year 10 (1921) Silver Dollar was struck in 1921 to commemorate Hsu Shih-chang’s presidency. This silver dollar has an obverse face featuring a three-quarter facing bust of Xu Shichang in civilian clothing. There are three varieties, detailed below, when it comes to the reverse face.
This coin has a reeded edge with a reverse face that features a beautiful pavilion entrance scene. Surrounding the central image is the inscription above reading right to left: 中華民國十年九月 (Republic of China, September of the 10th Year). Below is another inscription, flanked on either side by a rosette motif, again reading right to left: 紀念幣 (Commemorative Coin).
For this coin type its value will be greatly influenced by its condition. Coins with a strong MS grade might be expected to get a hammer price of around $15,000, however coins grading AU would fetch a much more conservative sum of less than $5,000.
This scarcer variety has the same reverse face as above but minus the rosette motifs and the bottom inscription. It also has a reeded edge.
This even scarcer coin type is the same as Kann 676a, although this a medallic variety and has a plain edge instead of the reeded edge seen in examples of the other two types.