According to Mr. E.E. Sim, President of the Malaysia Numismatic Society (July 1990): 'On the establishment of the Republic of China the country was still rather backward in the matter of road communication. By the year 1921 only about a thousand miles of roads capable of handling motorized traffic had been constructed for the whole nation. Apart from Shanghai and other treaty ports there were few automobiles in the provinces. Rapid communication from one town to another was impossible. The principal reason was that roads must be laid before vehicles could run on them.'
'By the year 1926, the most famous builder of motorized roads in China's history was one Chow Hsi-Chen, the military governor of Kweichow Province and a powerful warlord. He succeeded in building a massive highway systems that linked all areas of his province. After completing his road project, General Chow to mark the occasion, expressed a desire to strike a commemorative coin. He announced that it should bear his famous automobile, one of the very few imported into the country.'
'He also wanted the coin to bear his likeness. His advisers had no objection to the vehicle but counseled against his appearance on the commemorative. It seemed soothsayers and other Feng Shui experts predicted his life would be in jeopardy should his likeness appear. The warlord saw no reason for the omission of his effigy as other notabilities of the nation had previously appeared, but relented in the end on condition that his name at least be marked on the coin.'
'A commemorative was designed with his name in Chinese characters hidden in the blades of grass that make up the grass verge in the exergue of the coin. In other words, it was an arrangement of the blades below the automobile to inconspicuously resemble the warlord's name in Chinese characters for Hsi-Chen. [The characters can be seen when the coin is held so that the front of the automobile is pointing straight up.] His advisers were not happy with this arrangement. This commemorative coin was minted in the 17th Year of the Republic (1928) and issued for circulation thereafter.'
'The next year, whilst leading his troops in his automobile, he happened to move ahead of his infantry by a few kilometers. He was ambushed by rebel troops loyal to another warlord from a neighboring province. He attempted to escape by getting out of his car, but met his death lying on the grass verge bordering the roadway. Was this another coincidence or were the soothsayers right in their prediction?'
AR Dollar (25.3 grams), Kweichow mint, 1928. On the obverse is a touring car of the period, with Chinese characters reading 'Made by the Kweichow Government' above, and the denomination, 'Seven Mace and Two Candareens' below.
On the reverse is a poppy flower, with characters for 'Kweichow Silver Coin' and at the top 'Seventeenth Year of the Republic of China' (i.e., 1928), with 'One Yuan' below. The first coin to depict an automobile, and for fifty years, the only coin to do so.