August is always an exciting time in Kowloon, Hong Kong, as hundreds of coin and paper money dealers, collectors and enthusiasts gather for a week of world class auctions. This past week was no exception as Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio brought their annual sale to the Mira Hotel attracting spirited bidders from throughout the world. All prices listed include the buyer’s fee.
Session A offering World paper money started with a bang as the opening lot, a Ming Dynasty 1 Kuan hammered for above the mid-range estimate, garnering a superb price despite the low grade condition of the note.
The following five lots all realized above their high estimates. This included a coveted 1910 Ta Ching Government Denomination set that brought US$59,750.00! These specimen proofs ranging from $1 to $100 brought double the high estimate. Offered for the first time at Stack’s Bowers, the set was just one grouping of notes that exceeded expectations.
A strong showing for Mixed Lots was also seen. Stack’s excels at grouping together raw or graded notes to create great starter sets or great groupings for dealers to purchase and break up. Realized prices reflect that, and lot 50172, a group of PRC banknotes, sold for $4,063.00. The grouping was estimated $500-$1,000.
An incredible Provincial Bank presentation booklet with 83 pieces, offered in Lot 50239, hammered at $10,456 for over 50% of the high estimate. The booklet was without question a highlight of the sale and is an interesting piece the winning bidder will enjoy.
Another paper money highlight was the South Viet Nam P-4Ap 1000 Dong “Old Man at the Temple” note offered in lot 50424. This note brought a record price of $38,240, a price not yet seen at public auction. That lot reinforced that those Proofs and Specimens are extremely attractive in high grade.
Tuesday morning’s Session B offered foreign coins and it wasn’t long before an exciting highlight came to the podium as lot 60013, an extremely rare Cambodian 4 Tical. Bidders, including three international phone bidders, dueled until the final hammer landed at $71,700.
Rarities continued to show strength as the only example in private hands of an 1866 Hong Kong Mil Mule (lot 60046) reached over its high estimate bringing $17,925.
An impressive run of Korean 5-, 2- and 1-Mun patterns were offered in lots 60090-60092 and each doubled its high estimate at $38,240.
Later on Tuesday modern coin enthusiasts were treated to a spectacular offering of rarities. Prices for the ever popular Panda and Lunar series stayed strong with half and quarter ounce Pandas and scallop edged 100 and 200 Yuan Lunars showing upward momentum in price. Large size gold Lunars also realized strong prices with lot 61186 bringing $11,950 and lot 61191 selling for $35,850.
Slightly more offbeat scarce pieces saw plenty of action with a Guanyin 5 Ounce Gold Medal garnering $16,730 and a run of identical medals struck in silver also bringing solid prices.
One of the tent pole rarities of the modern section was lot 61273, a massive 20 Ounce 1,500 Yuan struck for the 40th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 1989 that realized $131,450.
Gold collectors continued with strong competition over the next three lots with a string of 5 Ounce gold medals all bringing more than high estimate. Another large gold commemorative, this struck for the centenary of Chairman Mao’s birth, made a fine showing with a price of $101,575.
After a night’s rest bidders returned in greater force for a very busy Wednesday session featuring vintage Chinese coins. Among issues from the Empire Period were two earlier patterns of the 1911 Flying Dragon Dollars. Lot 62046 was an early Long Whisker Dragon pattern that flew up to a final price of $131,450. The very next lot was a slightly later Reversed Dragon pattern that attracted a flurry of in-room bidding before landing at $113,525.
Moving into Republic coinage, gold 20- and 10-Dollar coins of Yuan Shih-kai did well with lots 62088 and 62089 bringing $13,145 and $9,858 respectively. A rare 1927 Mausoleum pattern Dollar, lot 62103, reached $33,460. The very next lot featured the exciting and possibly unique 1929 Satin Finish pattern Dollar that went to a bidder for $119,500. The portrait commemorative Dollar section saw great results as nearly every piece achieved over its high estimate. Lot 62130, a 1921 Pavilion Dollar graded PCGS SP-62, more than doubled its estimate with a surprising price of $38,240.
Session D continued with extensive provincial issues, which saw a major result after only 15 lots with a choice 1900 Chihli Dollar bringing $95,600. Two Mint State varieties of 1904 Hupeh Taels (lots 62185 and 62188) did not disappoint with results of $26,290 and $89,625.
High-quality continued to be a theme for the session as an NGC MS-63 Wu Shu Kiangnan Dollar brought $33,460 and a PCGS AU-50 Kweichow Auto Dollar sold for $23,900.
A very rare Yunnan Ration Gold 5 Yuan realized at $40,630 as lot 62302.
High-grade copper cash coins were making headway over their high estimates, continuing the pattern seen over the last few sales.
Also of particular note is the continuing strength of fantasy coins, which for the third sale straight have performed very well with nearly all bringing their high estimates or beyond.
The week of bidding at several auctions culminated with the inaugural Hong Kong Coin Show hosted by Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio, Spink, Coin In Coin and Shouxi.com. Collectors and buyers found standing room only as the bustling bourse floor was packed from the opening on Friday morning virtually until the very close of the show on Sunday. The response to this show has been resoundingly positive and shows continuing passion in the Chinese coin market. Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio will bring another auction and coin show to Hong Kong next April and encourage all to attend.
Currently Stack’s Bowers is accepting consignments of world and ancient coins and paper money for the New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) in January and their next Hong Kong Auction in April. Consignment specialists can be reached at 949-253-0916 or via email at [email protected].