Baldwin, HK-Hong Kong

22. August 2013

55th Baldwin-Ma Tak Wo Hong Kong Coin auction

Sungarei dollar proves itself in Hong Kong

The 55th Baldwin-Ma Tak Wo Hong Kong Coin auction, held at the Holiday Inn, Kowloon, on the 22nd August, proved to be one of the most exciting in the Groups history. 1187 lots went under the hammer, including lot 580, a sensational Sinkiang Province, 1898 Sungarei Silver Dollar. One of the rarest of the Chinese milled dollars, and missing from most major Chinese coin collections, this lot contributed a great deal to the hammer total of US$1,182,897 (inclusive of Buyer’s Premium at 18%).

Amid much speculation about the coin, a disclaimer in the auction catalogue stated that the coin had not found favour with the two main grading companies, lot 580, sold for an outstanding US$206,500 (inclusive of Buyer’s Premium), over double the pre-sale estimate. Recent research reveals that the Sinkiang ‘Sungarei’ dies were made using generic punches and hubs in common with the Anhwei, Chekiang, Fengtien and Heilungkiang series of dies manufactured by Otto Beh during the period 1897-99. As a total of 260 dies were made, not counting the rejects, the wear and tear on the punches and hubs explains the softness or lack of details on some of the patterns of the above series. The smaller denominations of the Sungarei series have been found in heavily circulated condition. The coin was bought by a mainland Chinese buyer present in the room.
508 bidders in the room, online and on the book participated in the auction where Baldwin’s auctioneer, Graham Byfield, took to the rostrum for the first time at a Hong Kong auction. No other Chinese coin came close in price to the Sungarei Dollar. It was clear that more common coins were not in great demand, though many sold for sensible prices, including lots 641-644, a selection of 1932 Silver “Junk” Dollars which all sold well at just over high estimate.

Chinese paper money was in limited demand, with the local trade clearly not investing in stock.

A good quality run of the mill material sold erratically but exceptional prices were achieved for selected items including lot 208, a 1953 People’s Bank of China, 10-Yuan note. Estimated at US$2,500-3,000 the banknote sold for US$15,000.
A small selection of Sycee proved popular with lot 407, a Yuan Dynasty Silver 50-Tael Sycee selling online to bidder from Europe for US$34,000. The collection of Chinese orders and decorations also sold well, as did the specialist collection of SE Asian plantation tokens.

The highest prices were for Indonesian locations, while Borneo found less favour. Lot 704, the Good Luck Fantasy Tael, featured on the cover of the auction catalogue, was inspired by ancient Chinese design.

Depicted on the reverse is a ring of bats surrounding a central symbol which signifies longevity, whilst the bats are representative of good fortune. The Tael brought a strong US$3200 against an estimate of US$400-500, such is the price of good luck and longevity!

Edward Baldwin, Chairman and Oriental specialist at Baldwin’s commented after the sale: ‘Our 55th Hong Kong Coin auction was one of the most exciting since Baldwin’s first became involved in the venture. To have achieved such a fantastic response to our Sungarei Dollar, from a range of potential buyers and coin collectors, was a hugely encouraging.’

The catalogue and full results from this auction can be found online at the Baldwin’s website.

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