Rare Chinese Coins Lead Heritage HKINF Auctions Above $14.3 Million

‘Completion of Lunar Cycle’ 2000 Yuan Tops Event at $576,000.

by Heritage Auctions l Published on July 11, 2022

DALLAS, Texas (July 11, 2022) – An exceedingly rare Chinese coin, struck in commemoration of the completion of one full lunar cycle since the start of the lunar series, sold for $576,000 to lead Heritage Auctions’ HKINF World & Ancient Coins Platinum Session and Signature ® Auction July 7-9.

The $11,967,441 event was part of the Hong Kong International Numismatic Fair, which also featured Heritage’s HKINF World Paper Money Signature® Auction, which totaled $2,365,998. Both events were virtually sold out; between them, they drew 3,438 bidders in pursuit of 1,838 lots. With a sell-through rate of 99.8% and total combined sales of $14,333,439, this was by almost every metric Heritage’s most successful Hong Kong auction ever.

Three lots sold for more than half a million dollars: the top lot was People’s Republic gold Proof “Completion of Lunar Cycle” 2000 Yuan (Kilo) 1992 PR69 Ultra Cameo NGC. A Republic Yuan Shih-kai silver Pattern Dollar Year 3 (1914) MS64 NGC ended at $564,000, and a Kuang-hsü Dollar ND (1908) MS67 PCGS reached $528,000.

“We continue to see intense demand for vintage Chinese and other Asian coins and currency as evident from this week’s record-breaking Hong Kong auction events,” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Heritage Auctions Executive Vice President of International Numismatics. “In our Platinum Night session, 24 lots broke the six-figure mark. I was especially surprised by the result of the Hupeh Tael of Year 30 that realized $480,000, nearly 10 times its opening bid!”

The event’s top lot is one of only 20 examples struck in commemoration of the completion of one full lunar cycle since the start of the lunar series, an immensely popular collector’s program beginning in 1981 with the “Year of the Rooster” issues, which continues its run today. Of the 20 extant, only 11 have been certified, the present example tied with six others for the joint finest.

The magnificent Republic Yuan Shih-kai silver Pattern Dollar Year 3 (1914) MS64 NGC is revered as one of the finest Pattern designs by renowned Tientsin mint engraver Luigi Giorgi, and significantly more beautiful than the adopted design. Only one other example has been graded similarly across both NGC and PCGS, the Pinnacle example ranking as a SP58, while the Jacobs piece certified as an MS62.

The Kuang-hsü Dollar ND (1908) MS67 PCGS is the undisputed finest known within the graded population; of nearly 5,800 seen, no other example exceeds MS65 at either NGC or PCGS. This coin is perhaps the best-known Dragon Dollar from Kuang-hsü's reign, produced for only a single year.

It was one of 43 lots in the auction from the Glorium Collection, a trove that yielded four other lots that brought six-figure results:

A Republic silver Pattern “Dragon & Phoenix” Dollar Year 12 (1923) MS62 NGC, from the Rulin Wei Collection, drew a winning bid of $180,000. This “large characters variety” is technically the more readily available of the two-character varieties of the issue, but is in high demand when on the cusp of choice certification, with many survivors having suffered from past cleaning.

More than two dozen bids came in for a Republic Li Yuan-hung Dollar ND (1912) MS64 PCGS until it climbed to $168,000. It is an impressive survivor from the first series produced in the early days of the new Republic of China after the abdication of the Qing Emperor Pu Yi, showcasing a rather crude yet instantly recognizable bust of then vice president Li Yuan-hung with hat and military uniform. A clear outlier of this rare type and variety combination, it is distinguished by the presence of “OE” instead of “OF” to the reverse legend, which Kann purports to be some of the first of this series minted before the correction.

Demand soared for a Republic Yuan Shih-kai gold 10 Dollars Year 8 (1919) MS63 PCGS until it reached $162,000. Fabled as one of China’s few proposed gold coins of the modern era, it represents part of Finance Minister Tsao Yu-lin’s attempt to revive a gold standard in the nation. But the project ultimately failed, leading to the already small allotment of 10 and 20 Dollar-coins vanishing from circulation, with even those that survived oftentimes showing ample evidence of being poorly kept – a description that excludes this magnificent example.

It is one of 61 lots sold in the auction from the Tony Ma Collection, which also featured two other lots that exceeded $100,000, and three more that sold for $90,000 or more:

Complete results from the HKINF World & Ancient Coins Platinum Session and Signature® Auction can be found at HA.com/3100.

World Paper Money
Heading into the World Paper Money event, it was believed that a couple of notes — one Chinese and one from Hong Kong — each could bring $30,000 or more. But in a result reflecting the surge of demand for Asian currency, eight notes topped that total, led by a China People’s Bank of China 5 Yuan 1956 Pick 872a S/M#C283-43 PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ, which brought a winning bid of $78,000 – nearly 10 times its pre-auction estimate. This is a Gem-graded example with the scarcer stars and wings watermark, a design that is far rarer than the open star counterpart. This beauty also boasts the in-demand “Exceptional Paper Quality” designation.

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People's Bank of China 5 Yuan 1956 Pick 872a S/M#C283-43 PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ.

A Hong Kong Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corp. 50 Dollars 1.1.1921 Pick 168s KNB56S Specimen PMG Choice Uncirculated 63, an iconic Waterlow & Sons design that seldom is seen in any format, drew a winning bid of $55,200. This high denomination was heavily forged and any extant example is a regarded as a treasure. This example is one of only nine graded in the PMG Population Report, and just the second Heritage Auctions has offered.

A rare China People's Bank of China 100 Yuan 1949 Pick 835a S/M#C282 PMG Gem Uncirculated 65 EPQ finished at $51,600. This note was a very short-lived smaller denomination, quickly rendered valueless in contemporary terms; the offered copy is only the sixth example offered at Heritage Auctions in the last decade.

A high-grade China People's Bank of China 20 Yuan 1949 Pick 822a S/M#C282-27 PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 EPQ more than tripled its pre-auction estimate when it brought $49,200.
There are only four different 20 Yuan notes in the extensive 1949 series, and the EPQ status is a welcomed designation that confirms complete originality. This desirable note is rare in any grade, and is nicknamed the “Junk and Train” note because of the junk boat and train seen on the front. This is the finest-graded example ever offered at Heritage Auctions.

Also nearly doubling its pre-auction estimate was a China People's Bank of China 50 Yuan 1949 Pick 830a S/M#C282-36 PMG Gem Uncirculated 65 EPQ, which closed at $48,000. One of the most iconic notes of the first series, this design was said to have been adapted from an earlier 10 Yuan denomination, which also featured a farmer and worker.

Other top lots included, but were not limited to:

A Tannu-Tuva Republic 10 Aksha 1935 Pick 13 PMG Very Fine 20: $33,600

A China Yuan Dynasty 2 Kuan 1264-1341 Pick UNL S/M#C167-1 PMG Choice Fine 15 Net: $31,200

A Hong Kong Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China 5 Dollars ND (1903-12) Pick 34s Specimen PMG Very Fine 30: $31,200

Complete results from the HKINF World Paper Money Signature® Auction can be found at HA.com/4037.

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Source: Heritage Auctions

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