The Chinese coin market is healthy. Heritage Auctions’ December sale in Hong Kong proved it. Of the 1,349 lots cataloged, four took in excess of $100,000 apiece and 50 between $10,000 and $99,999. The total realized including buyer’s premium, was $3,171,794.
Star of the show was a magnificent Kuang-hsü gold pattern Kuping tael (liang) of year Bing Wu (1906) struck at Tientsin mint (KM-Pn301, Kann-1540). Ex. Zhu H.J. Collection and graded MS63 NGC, it was bid up to $204,000 on a $130,000-$150,000 estimate.
From the same collection came a second Kuang-hsü gold pattern Kuping tael (liang), the so-called “small clouds” variety struck in the year Guang Xu (1907) also by Tientsin mint (KM-Pn302, Kann-1541). Graded MS62 NGC, it took an easy $132,000.
A further “small clouds” example in MS-61 NGC realized $96,000.
Among modern coins of the People’s Republic, there is an incessant demand for low-mintage gold proofs. Among these, the 60 mm, 5-ounce 500 yuan of 1995 showing a dragon boat on the reverse and the Great Wall on the obverse (KM-A823) always attracts attention. The piece was issued as part of five-coin ancient maritime commemorative series with a mintage of just 99. All such sets were edge numbered.
However, that on offer lacked the stamped edge number, and the Heritage catalog asks whether it may be a one-off pattern. Whatever the case, it went to the block in a NGC Jumbo holder graded PR69 Ultra Cameo. On an estimate of $150,000-$200,000, it fetched $186,000.
In contrast, a second example but edge-numbered 85 and also graded PR69 Ultra Cameo NGC went for $120,000 on its $80,000-$120,000 estimate.
Top silver coin of the sale and occupying sixth place in the prices realized went to another pattern, this time from the dying days of Empire: an exceedingly rare reversed dragon, small clouds pattern dollar of Year 3 (1911) struck at Tientsin (KM-Pn308, Kann-225). The reverse shows the end of the Imperial dragon’s tail at 3 o’clock rather than on the left as with most 1911 patterns.
The coin’s strike was out of the top drawer resulting in a brilliant white mint luster. Apart from minor hairlines on the obverse, it well deserved its SP62+ PCGS grade and easily achieved a price of $96,000 on a $50,000-$70,000 estimate.
Of note among other top-selling lots were two Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation gold bars of 5 taels each measuring 79x22 mm and containing 187.135 g of .9999 fine gold. Their obverses bear a stamp showing the HKSBC logo along with a second stamp giving weight and fineness. Regarded as rare, they fetched $13,200 apiece.
Full details of lots sold and prices realized are available online at www.ha.com.
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