Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio, HK-Hong Kong

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Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio to Offer Unique French Gold Proof Set

In their upcoming April Hong Kong auction from 17th until 26th April 2023 auction house Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio will offer a multitude of numismatic rarities both within and outside of the special Rarities Night Session devoted specifically to vintage Chinese issues.

Lot 43265: France. Paris Exposition “Flan Bruni” Proof Set (4 Pieces), 1900. Paris Mint. All PCGS Certified. Estimate: $250,000-$500,000.

One such treasure emanates not from Asia, but instead from the gilded opulence of turn-of-the-century Europe – an apparently unique four-piece proof set from France. It is pedigreed to the fabled King Farouk/Palace of Egypt Collection sold in 1954 and has not crossed the auction block since gracing a Superior sale during the final month of the 1980s. This proof set features impeccable quality and precision of strike, along with the distinctive “flan bruni” appellation – a French term for specially produced planchets meant to convey the pinnacle of manufacture. This “flan bruni” characteristic is rarely encountered for the larger two denominations (the “Winged Genius” 100 & 50 Francs), and is simply unknown otherwise for the smaller two denominations (the “Marianne/Rooster” 20 & 10 Francs). In addition, the 100 & 50 Francs in this set each represent the highest grade for the specific types within the PCGS census, attesting to the set’s unrivaled status.

The specific reasoning behind such an elevated, precise level of manufacture is not fully understood, although when observing the years (1889 and 1900) in which any “flan mat” and “flan bruni” examples are known, one sees a rather obvious connection: the World’s Fair. In each of those years, the “Exposition Universelle,” as it would have been known domestically, took place within France and, more specifically, in Paris itself. It seems rather likely that, during each of these events which put Paris at the center of the world’s stage, one of the globe’s most advanced mints would take the opportunity to display their seemingly unrivaled minting capabilities. In the case of the 1889 exposition, a coining press was set up at the grounds for such a function. Also tying the mint and this event together is the fact that the Marianne obverse design of the 20 and 10 Francs was designed by Art Nouveau master Jules-Clément Chaplain, who also designed the nearly-identical award medal for the 1900 fair. When taking into account the apparently unique nature of these four pieces, their sheer beauty, their sublime craftsmanship and their magnificent provenance to the World’s Fair and King Farouk’s vast collection, it is impossible to predict the lofty heights to which it could soar when it crosses the auction block in the Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio April Hong Kong Auction. It may be a very long time before admiring collectors once again have the chance to make such a historically important numismatic relic their own.

Further highglights of the sale:

The entire Stack’s Bowers & Ponterio April 2023 Hong Kong Auction is available for viewing and bidding.

For further information, visit the Stack’s Bowers Website.