Yunnan Packsaddle 5 Tael Sycee - A Cursory Analysis

 Yunnan Official Public Assayer 5 Tael Saddle Sycee (5th Period)

This is a Yunnan Packsaddle sycee of 5 tael (雲南三處牌坊銀錠重量:五兩) and is the “Official Public Assayer’s” type or “官公估” based on the starting three characters on the Assaying Chops. Note, there are two assaying chops—with different assaying initials. I have outlined the assaying chops below, verbatim. Moreover, according to Stephen Tai, this is a 5th Period Type, where he notes that “All 1st-3rd period types are common (thousands exist) and together they take up over 90% of the population, 4th-6th period types are rare.”

ASSAYING STAMPS: 官公估佘看訖 (left) AND 官公估童看訖 (right). We do see that they are not in the same alignment and instead, they are flipped. We also see that the stamping is not too precise and off centered. Nevertheless, the attribution is there, and I am confident with it. One of the chops has 佘 or “she” which denotes “Official Public Assayer SHE Checked.” The note of “訖” here represents the past tense CHECKED, according to Stephen Tai, and is the hallmark of the rare, 5th period type. Now, for the right assaying chop, I can discern the character “童” and of course, we have “訖” which shows the “checked” (past tense) character. This translates to “Official Public Assayer TONG Checked.”

MAKER’S STAMPS (there are three, identical of course): 王裕豐號 匯號紋銀. This is the “WANG YU FENG FIRM” and is also another unique identifier and is followed by the consistent “匯號紋銀” which means “Remittance Bank's Fine Silver.” Interestingly, for these inscriptions, we see that they are stamped not in the same direction.

Notes: The assay chops are in a style where they are not fully rectangular. Instead they have some lines embedded in them. They are also PETAL shaped. There are other specimens that share this type! Also, this is a nice type from an older, American collection of 30-40 years. I do appreciate the provenance and do not doubt its authenticity. There is a nice, original patina and the “tongues” or the narrow edges towards the left and right sides are coated with a rustic patina and with some remaining luster and minimal damage, that is, a test cut or scratch. Clear and sharp legends with golden toning!

From my personal collection. Not for sale. From an old collection 40-50 years ago.