Three exceptional collections, encompassing provincial and the Republic of China, stand poised to help Heritage Auctions’ December 7-9 World & Ancient Coins Platinum Session and Signature Auction continue the growth that has surged throughout the year.
The event features the Tony Ma, Glorium, and Monrovia collections – each of which spotlights each collector’s shrewd eye for quality and aesthetics of China’s most challenging series.
“These collections are among the most significant and important collections of Chinese coins anywhere,” says Cristiano Bierrenbach, Executive Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage Auctions. “As the market for modern Chinese rarities continues to expand, so does our selection of this material, which extends from the earliest issues in 1979 to the most modern contemporary show pandas.”
Tony Ma Collection
Among the event’s top lots is a Republic Yuan Shih-kai Specimen Pattern Dollar Year 8 (1919) SP64 NGC – one of just two examples confirmed between both censuses, and the origins of which are steeped in mystery. While the Birmingham Mint supplied both dies and machinery to China in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, playing an invaluable role in the modernization of China’s provincial mints, their involvement in the Republican era was significantly less. Regardless, the piece’s existence, hand-inscribed “1949” in pencil to the right of Yuan Shih-kai’s bust, is undeniable and fully appreciable as a Specimen striking. This magnificent coin is so rare that Heritage Auctions experts have found no other record of this Pattern issue ever appearing at auction.
Also among the 14 lots from the Tony Ma Collection is a Hupeh. Kuang-hsü “Small Characters” Tael Year 30 (1904) MS62 PCGS, Wuchang mint, KM-Y128.2, L&M-180, Kann-933, WS-0878. Few examples from this coveted series equal the level of aesthetic quality seen in this extraordinary example, leaving an impression of visual balance that renders this offering a highly collectible representative of this type.
The Tony Ma Collection showcases an array of fantasy issues that have gained significant popularity recently, including a Li Yuan-hung 50 cents and gold issues of Kansu and Yunnan provinces. Vintage series rarities that have seen appreciation by multiples appear throughout the auction, including some of the finest examples extant, notably the eponymous “Flying Dragon” dollar in MS66+, an MS64 “Dragon and Phoenix” dollar, and a “Birds Over Junk” dollar in MS66.
Among the 37 lots in this assemblage is a Republic Sun Yat-sen “Upper Five-Pointed Stars/No Dot Below Ear” Memento Dollar ND (1927) MS65+ PCGS that is among the most sought-after in the Republic Series. Featuring five-pointed upper stars, the offered coin was struck much later than the “cousin series” with lower five-pointed stars.
A Republic Sun Yat-sen “Upper Five-Pointed Stars/Dot Below Ear” Memento Dollar ND (1927) MS65 PCGS also features the five-pointed upper stars variety, but in this case with a dot below the ear. This Founding of the Republic commemorative is a popular and slightly scarcer variety, denoted by the dot placed just below Sun Yat-sen’s ear. Despite debate and disagreement over the dating of the issue, with both Lin and Ma and NGC dating the issue to 1928 and the Standard Catalog of World Coins and PCGS placing it at 1912, more modern scholarship points to 1927, which coincides with the 16th anniversary of the Republic while also marking the first usage of the “Memento” legend on the coins prior to the adoption of the six-pointed stars design later the same year.
This 44-lot trove is particularly strong in Republican issues, including a handful of choice patterns rarely encountered on the market – among them a Kwangtung pattern 50 cents in MS63, a “Mausoleum” dollar, and an L. Giorgi-signed Yuan Shih-kai 50 cents.
The Republic Sun Yat-sen silver Pattern “Mausoleum” Dollar Year 16 (1927) SP55 PCGS, by Richard Placht, is one of few survivors from a mintage of just 480, which suggests they likely were struck with presentation purposes. According to Eduard Kann, Placht never visited China and engraved this Pattern while Sun Yat-sen’s mausoleum still was under construction. Minted in Nanking from dies prepared in Vienna, the conjectured dies misrepresented both the mausoleum and the beloved statesman, with Kann even comparing the portrait to Paul von Hindenburg.
A Republic Yuan Shih-kai “Plumed Hat” Dollar ND (1914) MS64+ PCGS is a truly advanced specimen from this highly regarded series, boasting a refined portrait of Yuan Shih-kai in military garb, which includes the “Plumed Hat” after which the coin earned its moniker.
The only certified example of a Kwangtung. Kuang-hsü copper Pattern 50 Cents (3 Mace 6-1/2 Candareens) ND (1889) MS63 Red and Brown NGC is exceptionally scarce in a comparable state of preservation as the circulation issue, yet almost unseen as a Pattern struck in copper. This issue was struck to mark the opening of the world’s newest and largest mint facility in Kwangtung.
Other top lots include, but are not limited to:
- A People’s Republic 5-Piece Certified platinum “Inventions and Discoveries” 100 Yuan (1 oz) Proof Set 1992 Ultra Cameo NGC
- An Elizabeth II gold Proof “Gothic Crown Quartered Arms” 1000 Pounds (Kilo) 2021 PR70 Ultra Cameo NGC
- A Republic Hsu Shih-chang “Pavilion” Dollar Year 10 (1921) MS62 NGC
Images and information for all lots in the auction can be found at HA.com/3103.