Rare Chinese Coins Lead Heritage HKINF Auctions Above $14.3 Million
An exceedingly rare Chinese coin, struck in commemoration of the completion of one full lunar cycle since the start of the lunar series, sold for $576,000 to lead Heritage Auctions’ HKINF World & Ancient Coins Platinum Session and Signature® Auction 7th to 9th July 2022.
The $11,967,441 event was part of the Hong Kong International Numismatic Fair, which also featured Heritage’s HKINF World Paper Money Signature® Auction, which totaled $2,365,998. Both events were virtually sold out; between them, they drew 3,438 bidders in pursuit of 1,838 lots. With a sell-through rate of 99.8% and total combined sales of $14,333,439, this was by almost every metric Heritage’s most successful Hong Kong auction ever.
Three lots sold for more than half a million dollars: the top lot was People’s Republic gold Proof “Completion of Lunar Cycle” 2000 Yuan (Kilo) 1992 PR69 Ultra Cameo NGC. A Republic Yuan Shih-kai silver Pattern Dollar Year 3 (1914) MS64 NGC ended at $564,000, and a Kuang-hsü Dollar ND (1908) MS67 PCGS reached $528,000.
“We continue to see intense demand for vintage Chinese and other Asian coins and currency as evident from this week’s record-breaking Hong Kong auction events,” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Heritage Auctions Executive Vice President of International Numismatics. “In our Platinum Night session, 24 lots broke the six-figure mark. I was especially surprised by the result of the Hupeh Tael of Year 30 that realized $480,000, nearly 10 times its opening bid!”
The event’s top lot is one of only 20 examples struck in commemoration of the completion of one full lunar cycle since the start of the lunar series, an immensely popular collector’s program beginning in 1981 with the “Year of the Rooster” issues, which continues its run today. Of the 20 extant, only 11 have been certified, the present example tied with six others for the joint finest.
The magnificent Republic Yuan Shih-kai silver Pattern Dollar Year 3 (1914) MS64 NGC is revered as one of the finest Pattern designs by renowned Tientsin mint engraver Luigi Giorgi, and significantly more beautiful than the adopted design. Only one other example has been graded similarly across both NGC and PCGS, the Pinnacle example ranking as a SP58, while the Jacobs piece certified as an MS62.
The Kuang-hsü Dollar ND (1908) MS67 PCGS is the undisputed finest known within the graded population; of nearly 5,800 seen, no other example exceeds MS65 at either NGC or PCGS. This coin is perhaps the best-known Dragon Dollar from Kuang-hsü’s reign, produced for only a single year.
It was one of 43 lots in the auction from the Glorium Collection, a trove that yielded four other lots that brought six-figure results:
- A Republic Sun Yat-sen silver Pattern 50 Cents Year 26 (1937)-S MS62 NGC: $156,000.
- A Republic Chang Tso-lin silver Medallic 50 Cents ND (1927) MS63 PCGS: $144,000.
- A Republic Yuan Shih-kai “Plumed Hat” Dollar ND (1914) MS65+ PCGS: $117,000.
- A Wang Yung Sheng Zuwen Yingbing (“Pure Silver Cake”) of 1 Tael Year 6 (1856) AU58 NGC: $105,000.
A Republic silver Pattern “Dragon & Phoenix” Dollar Year 12 (1923) MS62 NGC, from the Rulin Wei Collection, drew a winning bid of $180,000. This “large characters variety” is technically the more readily available of the two-character varieties of the issue, but is in high demand when on the cusp of choice certification, with many survivors having suffered from past cleaning.
More than two dozen bids came in for a Republic Li Yuan-hung Dollar ND (1912) MS64 PCGS until it climbed to $168,000. It is an impressive survivor from the first series produced in the early days of the new Republic of China after the abdication of the Qing Emperor Pu Yi, showcasing a rather crude yet instantly recognizable bust of then vice president Li Yuan-hung with hat and military uniform. A clear outlier of this rare type and variety combination, it is distinguished by the presence of “OE” instead of “OF” to the reverse legend, which Kann purports to be some of the first of this series minted before the correction.
Demand soared for a Republic Yuan Shih-kai gold 10 Dollars Year 8 (1919) MS63 PCGS until it reached $162,000. Fabled as one of China’s few proposed gold coins of the modern era, it represents part of Finance Minister Tsao Yu-lin’s attempt to revive a gold standard in the nation. But the project ultimately failed, leading to the already small allotment of 10 and 20 Dollar-coins vanishing from circulation, with even those that survived oftentimes showing ample evidence of being poorly kept – a description that excludes this magnificent example.
It is one of 61 lots sold in the auction from the Tony Ma Collection, which also featured two other lots that exceeded $100,000, and three more that sold for $90,000 or more:
- A Republic Yuan Shih-kai “Plumed Hat” Dollar ND (1916) MS63 PCGS: $138,000.
- A Republic Li Yuan-hung Dollar ND (1912) AU55 PCGS: $102,000.
- A Szechuan-Shensi Soviet. Soviet Controlled Provinces Dollar 1934 AU58 PCGS: $99,000.
- A Republic Tuan Chi-jui Dollar ND (1924) MS64 PCGS: $90,000.
- A Republic Li Yuan-hung Fantasy 50 Cents ND MS63 PCGS: $90,000.
For complete results from the HKINF World & Ancient Coins Platinum Session and Signature Auction view the online catalog.
For further information about the auction house, visit the Heritage Auctions website.