A stunningly rare Japanese Proof set, sold as individual pieces, took center stage as Heritage’s January 8 – 9 World Coins Signature Auction was completed at the New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC). Overall, this auction was a huge success, with sales exceeding $15.6 million USD. Other Heritage auctions taking place during the week of January 4-10 at the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) convention in Fort Lauderdale included US coins at nearly $42.4 million, US currency at over $7.4 million, and world currency in excess of $1.3 million. Overall, the week saw numismatic material valued at close to $66.8 million change hands. All prices include a 17.5% Buyer’s Premium.
The star of the NYINC show was the Meiji 13 (1880) proof set of Japanese coinage, from the Commander Collection. The Meiji 13 proof set is among the most significant numismatic items in the world, not only because of the incredible rarity of each of the set’s components, but because of its presentation role, undeniably gifted to heads-of-state or high-ranking foreign liaisons during this infancy period of Japan’s opening to the western world. From a numismatic and historical standpoint, this set can be considered as comparable to the American King of Siam set.
In most cases, fewer than 10 examples of the constituent coins are known.
This offering consisted of 11 individual lots of proof coins from the 1880 set, plus a lot consisting of a custom presentation case and three “replacement” coins. These 12 lots sold for a total of $1,310,947.50, with the gold 20 yen, at $305,500, and the gold 10 yen, at $270,250, providing the two highest results of the auction. Each of these coins was graded PR64 by NGC. Three other coins from this set – the gold 2 yen, the gold 5 yen, and the 10 sen – achieved figures in excess of $100,000.
The D. Moore Collection, split out into two specialized catalogs, achieved impressive results as it brought its consignor in excess of $4.2 million. 127 lots of Russian material, highlighted by an incredibly rare 1755 Gold Pattern 5 Roubles graded PR64 * Cameo by NGC combined to sell for over $1.1 million. These coins were assembled over a period of 20+ years, with many acquired privately and thus fresh to the auction marketplace.
While the greatest concentration from the D. Moore collection was Russian coins, the offerings from the rest of the world were every bit as impressive, with 392 coins combining to sell for close to $3.1 million. The individual highlight from among these coins was a British gold proof 1893 5 Pounds graded PR67 * Ultra Cameo by NGC, which realized $152,750. Additionally, a classic Cuban six piece gold proof set dated 1915, pedigreed to the Eliasberg collection and graded PR64 to PR66 by NGC, sold intact to a lucky bidder for $199,750.
A few of the many other individual highlights of this auction included:
- Salzburg – Archbishopric. Franz Anton von Harrach gold 25 Ducat 1709 MS61 NGC, Salzburg mint, KM304, Fr-838. Price realized: $223,250
- Great Britain: William III gold 5 Guineas 1700 MS63 NGC, KM505.1, S-3454. Price realized: $211,500
- Japan: Meiji gold Proof 2 Yen Year 13 (1880) PR66 Cameo NGC, Osaka mint, KM-Y10a. From the Commander Collection. Price realized: $170,375
- Switzerland: Confederation gold Specimen “Stirnlocke-Vreneli” Pattern 20 Francs 1897-B SP66+ PCGS, Bern mint, KM-Pn39, Fr-500. From the Bern Collection. Price realized: $146,875
- Japan: Meiji gold Proof 5 Yen Year 13 (1880) PR65 Cameo NGC, Osaka mint, KM-Y11a. From the Commander Collection. Price realized: $117,500
- Japan: Meiji Proof 10 Sen Year 13 (1880) PR63 NGC, Osaka mint, KM-Y23. From the Commander Collection. Price realized: $117,500
- Great Britain: William & Mary gold 5 Guineas 1691 MS63 NGC, Royal mint, KM479.1, S-3422. Price realized: $105,750
- Great Britain: Elizabeth I (1558-1603) gold Pound 1595-1598 MS64 PCGS, Tower mint, Sixth issue, Key over Woolpack mm on both sides, S-2534. Price realized: $88,125
- Lydian Kingdom. Croesus and later (ca. 561-546 BCE). AV stater. NGC Gem MS 5/5 – 5/5. Sardes, ca. 553-539 BCE. Price realized: $88,125
- Japan: Meiji Proof 50 Sen Year 13 (1880) PR63 NGC, Osaka mint, KM-Y25. From the Commander Collection. Price realized: $88,125