6 billion Yuan, the largest-denomination Chinese banknote, brings $78,000 to top $1.5 million World Paper Money auction
A Hsüan-t’ung silver Specimen Pattern “Long-Whiskered Dragon” Dollar Year 3 (1911) SP63 NGC sold for $690,000 USD to lead Heritage Auctions’ HKINF World Coins Platinum Session and Signature Auction – Hong Kong to $9,675,525 June 21-23.
The result followed the June 20 HKINF World Paper Money Signature Auction – Hong Kong sale that finished at $1,503,400, bringing the combined total for the two events, each of which included multiple new records, to $11,178,925.
That the Long-Whiskered Dragon Dollar finished atop the list of the auction’s top results was anything but surprising. This magnificent coin is among the famed Pattern issues of Luigi Giorgi. Most coveted among Pattern dollars are those from 1911, the final year of the Qing Dynasty. Another Giorgi-designed masterpiece drew the auction’s second-highest winning bid when a Republic Yuan Shih-kai silver Specimen Pattern “L. Giorgi” Dollar Year 3 (1914) SP63 NGC went for $408,000.
A Shantung. Republic gold Pattern “Dragon & Phoenix” 20 Dollars 1926 MS64star NGC more than tripled its pre-auction estimate when it rode 25 bids to a final result of $372,000. This example is one of only a handful of 20 Dollar Patterns that have surfaced in the last couple of decades, the last at a Heritage sale being the MS64 2014 Ultima specimen.
The event included three Kweichow “Auto” dollars, a trio that was led by a spectacular Kweichow. Republic “Auto” Dollar Year 17 (1928) MS62 NGC that set a world record when it drew a winning bid of $336,000. Tied for the second-finest of the type, it was commissioned by governor Chow Hsi-chen to commemorate the completion of the first provincial highway in Kweichow, this issue departed from tradition by featuring the governor’s car as the centerpiece of its design, a declaration not only of the import of Chinese modernization efforts, but of their successful execution.
Three Hong Kong Dollars reached new records, as well — tops among them a British Colony. Victoria Dollar 1868 MS64 NGC that was the top certified 1868 Silver Dollar and got a winning bid of $312,000. A British Colony. Victoria silver Proof Pattern Dollar 1865 PR65 NGC climbed to $240,000, while a British Colony. Victoria Proof Dollar 1866 PR65 Cameo NGC closed at a record $216,000.
Another exceptional coin that brought a record price was a Hunan. Kuang-hsü silver Specimen Pattern 50 Cents ND (1898) SP55 NGC, Heaton mint, KM-Pn2, L&M-379, Kann-Unl., WS-0890, Wenchao-788 (rarity 5 stars), which brought a winning bid of $204,000. Beautiful and elusive, this is one of just six examples produced as trials by the Heaton mint, further confirmed by extensive research on the topic produced upon the most recent sale of the Goodman example in 2020.
Complete results from the World Coins event can be found here.
World Paper Money
A Chinese Sinkiang Provincial Bank 6,000,000,000 Yuan = 10,000 Gold Yuan Pick S1797 PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 EPQ, the largest known denomination for any Chinese banknote, drew the largest result ever when it more than doubled its pre-auction estimate, ending at $78,000. Few examples of this high denomination from the 1949 Gold Yuan issue exist due to the combination of the purchasing power of this note at the time and the short lifespan of the bank, and even with that limited available, this example stands out, as one of just two registered in Uncirculated condition in the PMG Population Report.
A People’s Bank of China 3 Yuan 1953 Pick 868 S/M#C283-12 PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ, an uncirculated version of this rare and short-lived note also more than doubled its pre-auction estimate when it finished at a record $66,000. The result is befitting of this magnificent note, which is exceptionally difficult to find in such a high grade; its elusiveness is a result, in part, of its introduction as a sign of friendship between China and the Soviet Union. The plates were manufactured in the Soviet Union; due to the Sino-Soviet Split, the design was not renewed, which only increase its collectability.
A pair of Straits Settlements notes — a Government of the Straits Settlements 100 Dollars 1.2.1901 Pick 4C PMG Choice Fine 15 and a Government of the Straits Settlements 50 Dollars 1.2.1901 Pick 4A KNB8 PMG Very Fine 20 — also established new records when they brought matching $66,000 results in the Heritage Hong Kong sale. The notes were two of eight Straits Settlements lots in the auction, a group that likely is the finest selection ever offered at auction from the group of British territories located in Southeast Asia, on and around the Malay Peninsula, that was established in 1826 and eventually dissolved in 1946.
The single finest graded example of a China Deutsch-Asiatische Bank, Peking 100 Dollars 1.7.1914 Pick S277r S/M#T101-24 Remainder PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ (30L) in the PMG Population Report brought nearly twice its pre-auction estimate when it sold for $55,200. The Deutsch-Asiatische Bank was the first large non-British bank to operate in China, and in 1906 was granted permission to issue banknotes, which led to a variety of denominations that were printed and issued over the next decade via branches in Hankow, Peking, Shanghai, and Tientsin, as well as in Kiau Chau.
Yet another record fell at a Heritage sale when the only known Remainder example graded in the PMG Population Report of a China Netherlands Trading Society 5 Dollars 1.1.1909 Pick S458r S/M#S51-2 Remainder PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ reached $33,600. With its roots in a 19th-century Dutch venture in Hong Kong, the Netherlands Trading Society issued banknotes in only two series: 1909 and 1922. Issuance was small, making issued banknotes, Specimen and Remainders very rare. It is fully printed, with a date and serial numbers, but it was never signed and issued.
Images and information about all lots in the Heritage World Paper Money sale can be found here.