Nelson Chang began to assemble the fabulous NC Collection of vintage Chinese coins beginning in the mid-1970s. Chang’s successful Wall Street career specializing in commodities and non-traditional assets provided a solid base from which to focus on collecting the rarest of Chinese coins in the highest quality.
A Shanghai native, Nelson returned to China in the 1970s for the first time since emigrating to the U.S. in 1938. He became convinced that China would inevitably emerge as an economic powerhouse and that buying rare Chinese coins would offer excellent returns as China's development accelerated. Collecting coins also served as a personal tie to his family's legacy as some of the foremost collectors of Chinese antiques and coins.
Nelson made his first large purchase, the Heaton Mint 1897 Hunan dollar for $15,500, in 1975 at the Paramount Long Beach Auction. Many more record prices would follow as Nelson sought the finest and rarest milled Chinese coins for his collection.
But only about a third of the NC Collection was acquired at auction. Nelson also bought from a network of dealers including numismatic luminaries such as Hans Schulmann of New York, Richard Nelson of the Tarzana, California based firm The Money Company, Andre De Clermont of Spinks in London and one of the most famous purveyors of Chinese coinage, Chang Huang based in Hong Kong.
Most of the coins in the NC Collection were graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) from 2009 to 2014. There will be more than 100 NGC certified coins from the NC Collection in Champion Auctions May 30, 2021 sale in Macau, China. A book dedicated to the NC Collection has been produced and will be released the day before the auction.
The history represented by the coins of the NC Collection is fascinating. Take for instance the 1901 Kirin Mint ten cash. This coin was struck during the takeover of the Kirin Mint by the Russians that year. A series of four denominations were struck while the Kirin Mint was under Russian control. All of the coins from that 1901 Banner series are extremely rare. Their denominations are 10, 20, 50, and 100 cash, which lines up with the Russian copper kopek coinage system in use at that time.
The Japanese Emperor's collection at the Bank of Japan Currency Museum has examples of the 1901 20 and 50 cash, with three coins known for each of these denominations. Those coins were likely acquired by the Japanese in 1905 after their victory over the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War. There is only one known example of the 1901 Kirin Mint 100 cash and the only 10 cash coin known is the one in the NC Collection, set to be sold by Champion Auctions in May.
Prices at the Champion Auctions sale of the NC Collection are expected to exceed previous market levels, as many of the NC Collection pieces have not been auctioned in years. This should be an exciting numismatic event for collectors, market analysts and historians.