By Kerry Rodgers
The second major tranche of the remarkable and important collection of the late Ruth W. Hill went on the block at Heritage Auction’s Long Beach Expo World Currency Signature sale on Sept. 4-8.
As in April both the rarity and quality of many of the items offered was breathtaking. This was ably demonstrated by the top-selling item, a German New Guinea 10 marks printed by the Australian occupation forces in 1914, P-2b.
This note is extremely rare. A 1986 census by Dr William Mira reports just eight surviving 10 marks notes of which six are in private hands. The condition of that offered is remarkable considering it was printed on what Mira describes as, “poor quality English paper” and was 99 years and 10 months old at the time of the sale. It came free of any foxing, nicks, tears, or soiling and, as a consequence had been graded PCGS Extremely Fine 40. Internet, mail and phone bidders helped drive the price up to $49,937.50—a record for one of these World War I occupation issues.
Second place in the sale was a somewhat lower $18,800 and represented a tie between Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. Both provide vignettes for two Chinese communist issues from the 1930s. Both notes had been printed under rather primitive conditions and while both vignettes were rather crude they were identifiable.
Lenin fronted on a one yuan of the North Hupeh Peasants Bank of 1931, P-S3508Q. The note had been well folded and had few minor rust stains but PCGS had no problem assigning it an Apparent Very Fine 25 grade.
Stalin starred on a one yuan of 1933 from the Szechuan-Shensi Provincial Workers & Farmers Bank, P-S3243b. This note is remarkable in being printed on cloth. It came with the obligatory red star on the back. It also graded PCGS Apparent Very Fine 25.
A large number of World War II notes in Hill’s collection attracted considerable interest, particularly the rarities. Among these top prices were paid for Italian issues.
A Cassa Mediterranea di Credito 100 lire specimen printed for occupied Egypt, P-M8s, easily made $17,625 in PCGS New 62 as did a Sudanese Cassa Mediterranea di Credito 50 piastres specimen of 1940, P-M3s, but graded PCGS Choice New 63PPQ. The corresponding Sudan Cassa Mediterranea di Credito 50 lire specimen, P-M7s, took $16,450 in PCGS Apparent Very Choice New 64.
The Heritage catalog notes that “In the Standard Catalog, it is mentioned that only one set [of Sudanese specimens] is known, and [the Ruth Hill examples] may very well be from that set. Interestingly, Ruth Hill only had the 5 Piastres, 50 Piastres, 5 Lire and 50 Lire notes, which correspond to the catalog numbers Pick M1s, M3s, M5s and M7s.”
Early issues of the China People’s Republic were also in demand. A 100 yuan of 1949, P-835, is one of the scarcer issues of the first series RMB notes. In PCGS Choice About New 58PPQ it raced to $16,450.
Similarly the highest denomination of the China People’s Bank 1950 issue, a 50,000 yuan P-855, in PCGS Very Fine 35 had no problem making $15,275 given this note’s scarcity.
Other top selling lots included:
• Malaya 50 dollars, Jan. 1, 1942, P-14, PCGS Very Fine 35PPQ: $14,100;
• Straits Settlements 100 dollars, Sept. 24, 1925, P-13, PCGS Apparent Very Fine 20: $11,162.50;
• Ceylon 50 rupees, Nov. 11, 1909, NIP [unique ?], PCGS Apparent Fine 12: $12,925;
• Qatar 50 riyals, (1976), P-4a, PCGS Superb Gem New 67PPQ: $11,750.
And there were many, many more. Interested readers may scan the full results on the Heritage web site: Go to: www.ha.com/3530 and enter “Ruth Hill” in the search box. To see the prices realized you have to register if not already logged in. To view the entire Ruth Hill results go to: www.currency.ha.com and search on “Ruth Hill.”
Among lower priced items a number of war-related items in the present sale illustrate the breadth, depth and quality of the Hill collection.
One of reportedly just 12 complete World War II Fanning Island £1 notes, Schwan-Boling 1541a1, took $8,812.50 in PCGS Very Fine 25.
A World War I Great Britain Treasury £1 with a Turkish 120 silver piastres overprint, P-349b easily achieved $7,637.50 in a better than usual PCGS Very Fine 35.
An extremely scarce uncirculated set of one, five and 10 cents World War II chits used by the USAFIF [United States Armed Forces in Fiji], Schwan-Boling 1381-1383, managed $3,818.75 after some heated bidding between two dealers.
And a historically important set of post-World War II Israel American Joint Distribution Committee coupons used in camps set up in Cyprus to assist Jewish refugees from former German concentration camps realized $6,462.50 in crisp UNC.
This is the last major sale from Ruth’s collection to be offered by Heritage. Other items may be listed from time to time in Heritage’s weekly i-auctions.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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