By Kerry Rodgers
Spink China’s Hong Kong collectors’ sale started with a mighty bang.
The first paper money item on the block was a 700-year-old Yuan dynasty two kuan (NIP, S&M C167-1). Extraordinarily rare in any condition, this one came heavily repaired. The best the cataloger could manage was an “about good” grade. That did nothing to inhibit bidders competing to obtain a piece of China’s history. The mulberry bark delight quickly rattled past its upper estimate of $25,000 to find a new home for $33,746.
Otherwise, it was business as usual at the company’s Sai Ying Pun offices with eye-watering prices the norm. Chinese notes were order of the day on Aug. 15, with Macau, Hong Kong and other world notes available Aug. 16. A total of 1,584 lots were on offer, which together realized $1,510,939.
Yuan dynasty rarities aside, 1st and 2nd series renminbi continue to attract record bids. Top lot here was a 1st series 1.000 yuan “Mine cart and Donkey” (P-850a). Graded PMG Gem Uncircuated 66 EPQ, it had no trouble in taking over seven times upper estimate, or $18,407. A second example, in PMG Gem Uncirculated 65 EPQ, made $7,669.
From the 2nd series, an example of the iconic 1953 10 yuan (P-870) came graded PMG Choice About Uncirculated 59. It was rapidly bid up to $30,677 — just short of double upper estimate. Two other examples realized $16,872 and $18,406 in PMG 35NET (repaired) and PMG Extremely Fine 40, respectively.
But among modern issues, it was the banks of Hong Kong that ruled the field.
From the Chartered Bank came a $500 dated Jan. 1, 1977 (Pick 72d). It carried the magic serial number Z/G 000001, which together with a PMG 64 EPQ grade helped push the price to $49,084.
Just a little way back came a superb Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. $500 of July 1, 1930 (Pick 177b). Its PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 grade is the highest in the PMG population report, which perhaps explains its $46,016 price.
HKSBC also provided a $5 of Jan 1, 1923 (P-166), but in good EF, it could manage just $24,542.
Other high fliers included a rare Qing Dynasty 50 taels of year 4 (P-A13e) in good VF that took $38,346, while a complete Bank of China five-specimen set from 1914 (P33s-35Bs) made $36,812.
From the rest of the world, the Old Man of Viet Nam provided yet another starring role with a 1,000 dong specimen, c. 1955-1956, P-4As. It came in PMG 64 Choice Uncirculated and edged past upper estimate to fetch $15,338.
Full catalog details and prices realized are available at www.spink.com. A premium of 20 percent has been added to all prices shown. These have been converted at a rate of 1 USD = 7.82345 HKD.
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