In the realm of Asian pedigrees, few rival the Dr. Norman Jacobs collection of Asian coins. As many collectors recall, Jacobs’ collection brought forth such legendary coins such as the finest known example of the Ex. Jacobs’ Hsüan-t’ung Spring Dollar. The coveted piece finds its way to auction once again exclusively in Heritage Auctions’ two-day Hong Kong auctions. The sales, which will be held June 12-13 on HA.com, features supreme additional Asian rarities and specimens seen in remarkably few public appearances, including the Dr. Norman Jacobs Collection of Thai Coins.
“We are grateful to all of our consignors and clients who have worked with us through challenging times and helped us put together a superb auction catalog with impressive lots from vintage Chinese coins to modern issues,” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Executive Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage Auctions. “The amazing group of Thai coins from the collection of the legendary Dr. Noman Jacobs is worthy of note, as are many other highlights.”
The singular highlight of this auction, however, also hails from the Jacobs collection; the Hsüan-t’ung Yunan “Spring” Dollar CD 1910, AU58 NGC, is so called in reference to the four Chinese characters that translate to “Spring 1910” on its reverse. It returns to auction for the first time in nearly a decade after selling for nearly $550,000 USD in 2011. The Spring Dollar is considered one of China’s rarest coins and it has been wrapped in mystery and legend since its discovery in 1920.
Heritage offered The Norman Jacobs Collection of Japanese and Korean Coins in September 2011 as part of a $20.5 million auction event.
“Sensing the strength of the current markets, a decision was made to present these rarities at auction,” Bierrenbach said. “We are honored to feature a fantastic selection of 31 Thai rarities, which serves as the most important offering of Thai coins in at least a generation.”
Jacob’s stunning collection includes such rarities as an exquisite 1864 Thai “Birthday” Tamlung, AU55 NGC. A classic rarity of the Thai series, was struck to commemorate Rama IV’s 60th birthday. While the obverse of the type displays the familiar crown motif commonplace in Thai coinage of the era, the reverse exhibits a more unique design, with the central inscription “Kingdom of Siam”, surrounded by the Chinese inscription “Cheng Ming Tung Pao” (“Negotiable Currency of Cheng Ming”).
The issue is commonly viewed as a presentation piece (and is noted as such on Jacobs’ own collection envelope included with the lot), which was never released for official circulation. The specimen from the Jacobs’ collection exhibits exceedingly little actual wear and is expected to generate intense bidder interest.
Jacobs’ collection is a veritable trove of incredibly elusive patterns, including an 1877 Rama V silver Proof Pattern 2 Baht. The extremely rare unadopted pattern type, which almost never occurs on the market, includes only one other example that has appeared at auction in recent years and perhaps no more than eight test coins exist.
Other top Chinese lots include an extraordinary 1916 Republic Bronze L. Giorgi Cent Pattern, MS63 Red and Brown NGC. It is among the rarest copper patterns of the early Republican series – entirely missing Jacobs collection. Produced by the Tientsin Mint’s chief engraver, Luigi Giorgi, most famously known for his iconic pattern dollar series of President Yuan Shih-kai, this issue represents the officially adopted design, with the addition of the artist’s signature just to the right of six o’clock on the reverse, as holdered. One of just 10 reportedly certified between NGC and PCGS combined, it is only the fourth we have been able to locate coming to auction in the past two decades.
A 1904 Kuang-hsü “Large Characters” Tael Year 30, MS63 NGC, on offer ranks among the finest seen. Its sublimely mint “fresh” fields, studded with light die polish lines and flanking designs rendered to exact calculation, reveals a degree of visual appeal and charm that places it into an elite tier, currently exceeded by only a single example seen by PCGS and two by NGC.
The finest known French Indo-China Pattern Piastre in a virtually immaculate rendition of this extremely rare and highly sought-after pattern, rises above the field. Experts submit the coin could have been produced for the six-month-long Colonial Exposition (Exposition coloniale internationale) in Paris in 1931. The example on offer is almost certainly representing the finest known.
Additional highlights include:
- An 1877 Rama V copper Proof Pattern 2 Baht (1/2 Tamlung) ND, PR65 Red and Brown NGC, is undoubtedly the finest certified example and likely the finest in private hands, with only two other pieces certified by PCGS, neither of which has exceeded the AU58 level. The coin’s condition gives it its own personality, a testament to Jacobs’ unique eye. The specimen features fully glassy surfaces punctuated by prominent die polish, while a rosaceous merlot tint has taken to the reverse. Ex. Jacobs Collection.
- A 1909 Rama V silver Essai 1/2 Baht (2 Salung) RS 128, MS64 NGC, was minted in Paris. It is widely considered a classic rarity of the machine-made Thai series, virtually unattainable in any condition, and perhaps even rarer than the Essai 1/4 Baht and Baht of the same set. The history behind the coin is as fascinating as the piece itself. Originally ordered by Rama V during his visit to Europe as denominations intended for circulation, the coins did not reach Thailand from the Paris Mint until after Rama V’s early death – with the Baht, the only coin with any of its mintage released, largely melted down. Representing the last issue of the monarch as such, the coin at hand displays a delightful mottled toning and notable device frost. Ex. Jacobs Collection.
- Simply a breathtakingly beautiful coin, an 1868 Rama V copper Proof Pattern 4 Baht (Tamlung) ND, PR60 Red and Brown NGC, is the largest denomination within this off-metal pattern set, boldly struck throughout with just a minor scattering of handling in the fields precluding a finer designation. Ex. Jacobs Collection.
“Although I won’t be able to see many friends in Hong Kong this July, I look forward to ‘seeing’ everyone online soon!” Bierrenbach said
Bidding opens June 17 for the Hsüan-t’ung Spring Dollar and other exceptional Asian coins at the HKINF World Coins Auction scheduled July 12–13 online through Heritage Live.