King Kojong assumed the title of Emperor Kuang Mu in 1897 and struggled to preserve Korea’s independence during a tumultuous time in history when the country faced successive threats by China, Russia, and Japan. Predating this was the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), when the Qing Dynasty of China and the Meiji of Japan were warring for dominance over Korea and, subsequently, East Asia. Japan prevailed and the loss had devastating consequences in China that would culminate with the Xinhai Revolution of 1911.
However, Japan’s position was almost immediately threatened by Russian influence, which lasted until the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), at which time Japan established a direct protectorate over Korea.
Heritage’s June 28-29 Hong Kong Signature Auction features a copper-nickel 5 chon piece struck during the period of Increased Russian influence in Korea. This period, from 1896-1904, resulted in three types of coins (1 Chon, 5 Chon, and 1/2 Won) being struck with a Russian eagle in place of the Japanese style dragon. These pieces were one-year types authorized and issued by financial advisor Alexiev of the Russo-Korean Bank. All are very rare.
The piece we are offering in Hong Kong features a bold strike, with light gray toning over surfaces showing some remaining luster and a few reverse contact marks. Only 4-5 pieces have been offered at auction in the last 10 years. An extremely rare issue, with none certified finer than this coin’s NGC-assigned AU58 grade.