By Nicholas Fritz – Numismatist, World and Ancient Coins, Stack’s Bowers Galleries ……
The Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio May 2022 Hong Kong Auction of Asian Numismatics will be an impressive event, presenting over 7,000 coins that are estimated between $12.5 million and $20 million USD. Within this large offering is a small collection of Chinese coins and medals that is among the most important by rarity and condition. The cumulative low estimates of just 14 coins from the Kairos Collection surpass $1 million, with the high estimate in the $2 million range.
Lovers of the Chinese Republican circulation series will be stunned by incredibly high-grade examples from the Kairos Collection, including two examples of the popular 1912 “Memento” Type 20 Cent issue that PCGS has graded MS-67+ and MS-68. Both examples are graced with rainbow toning that presents a sharp contrast with frosty white surfaces.
The Kairos Collection also contains a 1927 “Memento” Dollar graded MS-67 by PCGS. No other example of this relatively plentiful type has ever been certified at this grade level or higher by PCGS, with two examples certified by NGC tying this one at MS-67. A glistening cartwheel enhances pristine surfaces that display the design to a near-perfect representation of what was intended. The 1927 Memento example is complemented by a beautiful, semi-mirrored 1912 Low 5-Pointed Stars Dollar that is graded MS-67 by PCGS, tied with just one other example certified by PCGS.
The Kairos Collection features some of the finest Republican commemoratives that Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio has ever offered, giving advanced collectors a chance to acquire premium examples of some of the most popular Chinese types. A 1914 “Tall Hat” Dollar featuring the signature of L. Giorgi and graded Specimen-67 by PCGS highlights the commemorative portion of the collection. This nearly flawless example exhibits mirrored fields and some handsome light red toning. Also of note is a 1916 “Flying Dragon” Dollar graded MS-67 by PCGS that is among the loveliest of this popular type, with only one example surpassing it on the PCGS Registry.
High-quality provincial and Empire examples from the Kairos Collection include a frosty PCGS MS-67 “Dragon in the Clouds” Empire Dollar that is tied at the top of the PCGS population report. An ever-popular type, this lustrous beauty is certain to attract much attention. An undated (1898-99) Chekiang 3 Mace and 6 Candareens (50 Cents) graded MS-66 by PCGS combines beauty, rarity, and incredible preservation. Likewise, a PCGS MS-66 1897 Chihli “Dragon Dollar” with the “cartoon” style dragon is an amazing Gem example of an issue that often comes with problems; only six other examples have received any Mint State grade.
Perhaps one of the most visually stunning pieces in the Kairos Collection is a 1934 Shensi-Soviet Dollar graded PCGS MS-62. This type almost uniformly appears drab, poorly struck, and quite frequently has tooling or cleaning. The Kairos specimen, however, displays a well-applied strike and lightly lustrous white surfaces and is one of the very few examples from the entire Shensi-Soviet period that is quite attractive.
The most enigmatic piece of the collection is a circa 1930 Yen His-shan Silver Medal that was quite likely produced during the Central Plains War, an armed conflict raised by Yen against the Kuomintang Government. Yen was a provincial governor of Shanxi, so powerful that he was able to hold onto provincial rule until 1949 even after the insurrection was put down. This medal, as far as ascertainable, has only ever been offered once, in bronze, when it hammered for $25,000 in Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio’s April 2012 Hong Kong Sale. Most references do not mention the type, making it one of the most elusive and difficult numismatic treasures from China.
The highlight of the Kairos Collection is an 1899 Kiangnan 3 Mace and 6 Candareens (50 Cents) certified MS-62+ Prooflike, which is among the hardest pieces to find in the entire provincial series, with only 155 recorded as struck. This example is perhaps more of a Specimen, as it offers superior strike quality to most business strikes from the time. The rims are fully formed and there appear to be multiple strikes, further supporting the Specimen hypothesis. This example far outstrips the three others known to exist: an NGC AU-50, an NGC AU Details, and a PCGS AU-50. The estimate for this most desirable of minors spans from $300,000 on the low end to $600,000 on the high end.
The small yet incredibly advanced Kairos Collection offers treasures that do not come to market with any consistency. With its carefully curated and premium nature, items from this cabinet are certain to be among the most popular and important offerings of the entire May Hong Kong sale.
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We are always seeking world and ancient coins, medals, and paper money for our auctions, and are currently accepting consignments for the June Collectors Choice Online (CCO) auction and our August 2022 sale. If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact a consignment director or email [email protected] today and we will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material.
中国, 中國, 香港, 香港拍卖, 香港拍賣