Story of An Imitated Dated Saddle Sycee

Imitated Dated Saddle Sycee


Weight: 181 grams 


Inscriptions: 庚戌柒月/福盛匯紋 


Year Gan Shu (1910) the 7th Month 


Fu Shen (Silver shop) "Huei Wen" (Abbreviation of "Huei Hao Wen Yin", i.e., Remittance Bank Fine Silver)


Assaying chops: 公估童佘段看 


Public Assayer Tong, Ser, Duan Looked




    Dated Saddle is one of the rarest kinds of Yunnan Saddle Sycee, I have found only 4 genuine pieces of this type over the past decade, and acquired 2 as I-D/1, I-D/2 shown below. Normally, the market value of these can be 3-4 times or greater than that of a common specimen, which also gives a great incentive for counterfeiting.

    Apart from many counterfeits which may be spotted with a glance, and are omitted here, F/1 shown can be considered one of the best imitations and merits a special note.

    Why is it an imitation?


    Cosmetic Appearance 

    The dark gray on its surface does not look like the typical color of the rust coating on an aged specimen. No silver color of an old sycee will appear when the piece is rubbed with a cloth. It could be a sign that this specimen had been treated with some kind of chemical to hide its real age.

     Wrong calligraphy 

     Most of the strokes of the writings are too slim, the writer didn't use his strength evenly on each stroke he wrote, and overall it looks too artificial. The forger seemed to be trying to create the look of the calligraphy of an the average Saddle, however, this is also the most difficult appearance to achieve, and this imitation didn't do it very well.

    However, these two discrepancies are not that easily noticed by the average collector!


    Wrong matching of the assaying chop and a Dated Sycee. 

    This Dated Saddle, according to "The Legendary Currency of the Late Ching Dynasty--A Study on Yunnan Saddle Sycee" or "A Catalogue of Yunnan Historical Silver Ingots" by the Author (hereunder together as "Author's Books"), it is a Type I-D-#5, and a very last kind of Official Public Assayer's Saddle Sycee cast in the Kunmin City. Intending to restrict the amount of Saddle Sycee cast in Kummin, the Provincial Board of Revenue dictated to all silver banks and smiths that all the Saddle Sycee cast by them after the 1st day, the 2nd month, the 2nd year of Hsuan Tung (1910) would have to be dated, and only 2 official public assayers were authorized to assay these new Dated Saddle Sycee. They were Tong (Fu Shen) and Ser (Chin Shen). Hence, all the Saddle Sycee were dated and assayed by the two assayers with the stamp of "Official Public Assayer Tong, Ser Looked" as same as I-D/1 and I-D/2. There was not an assaying chop of "Public Assayer Tong, Ser, Duan Looked" used for the Dated Saddle. Specifically, Duan was not an assayer authorized to assay Dated Saddle Sycee.


    Actually, "Public Assayer Tong, Ser, Duan Looked" had been an assaying chop employed in another Public Assayer's Saddle Sycee in Kunmin (Author's Books: Type I-C#1, as the following I-C/1 exemplified) which circulated earlier than the Dated Saddle (Type I-D-#5) until the 30th year of Kuag Hsu (1904) when Official Public Assayers' Saddle Sycee (Author's Books: Type I-D) was cast. From that time, Public Assayer Duan was not nominated by the Provincial Board of Revenue to be an Official Public Assayer, and it is unlikely he would be allowed to assay a Dated Saddle Sycee-A kind of Official Public Assayer's Saddle Sycee.


I-D/1 (A Genuine Dated Saddle Sycee)


Weight: 187 grams 


Inscriptions: 庚戌伍月/裕源匯紋


Year Gan Shu (1910) the 5th Month

Yu Yuan (Silver shop) "Huei Wen" (Abbreviation of  "Huei Hao Wen Yin", i.e., Remittance Bank Fine Silver)


Assaying chop: 官公估童佘看


Official Public Assayer Tong Ser Looked



I-D/2 (A Genuine Dated Saddle Sycee)
Weight: 204 grams 


Inscriptions: 辛亥伍月/萬泰匯紋


Year Hsin Hai (1911) the 5th Month


Wang Tai (Silver shop) "Huei Wen" 


Assaying chops: 官公估童佘看


Official Public Assayer Tong Ser Looked



 I-C/1 (A Public Assayers' Saddle Sycee. No date)

Weight: 182 grams


Inscriptions: 福盛廣記/匯號紋銀

Fu Shen Guan Firm


Remittance Bank Fine Silver


Assaying chops: 公估童佘段看


Public Assayer Tong, Ser, Duan Looked


wpe3.jpg (40843 個位元組)
A Letter of Guaranty on the Compliance to the Purity Standard for Official Public Assayers' Saddle Sycee When It Was About Being Cast, Issued By Duan at the 1st day, the 8th month, the 30th year of Kuang Hsu (1904).


    The person imitating this piece made a mistake by using a wrong assaying chop, however, it was a clever one. This mistake was also the major reason why many collectors (including me) got fooled and paid the price with a smile and without a blink of their eyes. We thought that we might get a bargain for a precious previously unrecorded specimen!

    I first released the details of this cleverly imitated piece in my book published in 1996.  Within 2 months, 6 major collectors in Taiwan called me, telling me almost the same story about an identical piece they got and they didn't know it was an imitation until reading the book . We found that all the pieces we bough came directly or indirectly came from the same dealer. Instead of giving the dealer a hard time, I decided to keep this piece as a souvenir; after all, this is educational material and part of my tuition.

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