Rare and unique Hong Kong coins and currency are up for sale at Spink



2015-06-26 12:13:40

Rare and unique Hong Kong coins and currency are up for sale at Spink

Led by a $93,000 classic from the Tientsin mint, the sale promises to be unmissable for collectors

Collectors of rare stamps whether for pleasure or investments or both will already have been looking forward to this weekend as Spink is selling what has been described as the 'crown jewel' of Hong Kong stamp collections, the 96c bistre block of four.

However, Spink have more than one auction on the go this weekend, and they have other great rarities of Hong Kong and China going under the hammer, not all of them stamps.

Their straightforwardly titled Banknotes and Coins of Hong Kong auction has four banknotes tied for the top spot and a very exciting gold coin from the Tientsin mint. Here's a quick rundown:

A Bank of Honan Province, Qing Dynasty $1 banknote (from 1908), with 'Shi' prefix, number 100, shows a blue and black obverse with ornate dragons and a central vignette printed 'One Yuan'. The prefix appears on the right and date on the left, and the note has various red chop marks.

Bank of Honan Qing Dynasty banknote Bank of Honan Qing Dynasty banknote

The reverse shows Chinese text within a yellow frame. The large stamp shows that this note is an issued example. Strangely, the printed date on the reverse is 1904, whilst the issued date is 1908. The reason for this is unknown.

A proof banknote for the Agra and United Service Bank Limited, for $300 from Hong Kong is undated but thought to be circa 1850. Coloured in black and white only, it has arms at the top centre flanked by a lion and a unicorn, with the value in an oval frame top left and right.

The design is a John Biden engraving, a sharp and a fresh extremely fine example and of the highest rarity.

Two Hong Kong $5 notes from The Oriental Bank Corporation are dated 7 March 1879. Black and white, with the royal arms flanked by a lion and a unicorn at the top centre, each shows its value in an oval tablet to the top left and right.

The bank title and value appear in a central panel, with the printed date 1866 cancelled and manuscript 1879 entered on one and handprinted on the other, and two manuscript signatures below.

The reverse of each is black and white, with ornate spirographic circles at centre. All in all, each is a pleasing example in very good to fine condition, and of the highest rarity.

It was the first note printed after Perkins Bacon received the printing contract formerly held by Batho & Co. of London. Prior to the discovery of the two examples in the auction, only three issued Hong Kong Oriental Bank notes were believed extant, two of which are in Museums and one, a $5, is in a private collection.

All of these notes are estimated at HK$250,000-300,000 (up to US$38,500).

There are also two gold proof coins issued for collectors celebrating the Chinese year of the snake (1989) and horse (1990). With a face value of 1,000 Yuan, they are in the same style as 10,000 Yuan coins we've seen recently at Heritage.

These remain in sealed vinyl packets in their black lacquer boxes of issue, and hence are still in brilliant condition. The former, of which there were just 200 struck is listed at HK$230,000 to HK$280,000 (up to US$36,000) whilst the latter (500 struck) appears at HK$200,000-250,000.

Kuang Hsu Gold Pattern Tientsin Kuping Tael coin Kuang Hsu Gold Pattern Tientsin Kuping Tael coin

Finally, the expected top lot is a Chinese Empire, Kuang-hsu (1875-1908), gold pattern K'uping Tael coin, weighing 37.22g, dating from 1906.

Originating from the Tientsin mint, it has a plain edge, with a dragon on the obverse surrounded by large clouds within a plain circle. There is no inscription.

The reverse shows four characters: 'Ta Ching Gold Coin' within a beaded circle, with the date above and the value below. Aside from a few minor contact marks and slight abrasions, it is about uncirculated, some brilliance, particularly on the obverse, and extremely rare, justifying its listing of HK$500,000-750,000 (US$93,400).

Spink's auction takes place tomorrow, January 22, 2011 in Hong Kong.

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