As dredgers scour the seabeds of Tangasseri harbour in Kollam city, Kerala, India, in the hunt to discover more Chinese coins’ London based auctioneers, A. H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd, give buyers an easier way to buy a piece of Chinese monetary history at their 56th Hong Kong Coin Auction of Far Eastern and World Coins, Medals and Banknotes, in association with Ma Tak Wo Numismatic Co Ltd, Hong Kong.
A very rare Chekiang Province Brass Pattern Cash, an example of the first Chinese-style specimen round-hole Cash, similar to the contemporary Hong Kong issues, offers collectors an opportunity to own one of the most interesting pieces of Chinese currency history.
In Richard Wright’s book, The Modern Coinage of China 1866-1949, The Evidence in Western Archives, he writes: “The Imperial Chinese authorities showed little interest in the machine minting of coins until the 1880s. Therefore the fact that the Paris Mint struck a pattern Chekiang Province cash coin as early as 1866 is somewhat of an enigma, particularly as the mint officials there have no evidence or knowledge of any further French involvement with the Chinese coinage. “
The Paris Mint catalogue states that only three of the coins were struck but Wright argues that there may have been more, and the specimens could have been created solely for the purpose of an official Mandarin dignitary’s visit to Paris. It is estimated to sell for US$20,000 – 25,000. [Lot 292]
From the collection of Swedish born numismatist, Åke Linden, two very special coins are estimated to sell for US$80,000 – 100,000. The first of the two, a 1907 Kuang Hsu Ku’ping Gold Pattern 1-Tael, was created as a prototype coin in the 33rd year of the reign of the eleventh Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Kuang Hsu.
Emperor Kuang Hsu was put under house arrest after his Hundred Days' Reform, aimed at changing political, legal, and social proceedings failed in 1898. The reforms proved too sudden for the Chinese populace and conflicted with the views of Empress Dowager Tsu Hsi, Kuang Hsu’s Regent. With military support she staged a coup and Hsu stayed under house arrest until his death in November 1908, a day before the death of Tsu Hsi. [Lot 285]
The second of the two coins is an extremely rare 1907 Chihli (Peiyang) Province Silver Pattern 1-Tael, also from the 33rd year of the reign of Emperor Kuang Hsu. The coin has exceptional provenance having been bought by Linden from the collection of Dr Norman Jacobs, also sold by Baldwin’s in 2008 for a total of US$3,371,800. [Lot 309]
Elsewhere in the sale a selection of Asian banknotes includes an original stapled bundle of 100 consecutive 100-Rupee banknotes, serial nos.B19 683201-683300. Circa 1914, the notes issued by the Reserve Bank of India, Calcutta, are signed by C. D. Deshmukh and depict King George VI in profile at the right. They are estimated to sell for US$120,000 – 150,000. [Lot 187]
An extremely well preserved and very rare Vietnamese Zinc Tong Bao from the reigh of Kien Phuc (1883-84) is estimated to sell for US$13,000 – 18,000. [Lot 799]
Nguyen Gian Tong was placed on the throne at the age of fifteen on 30 November 1883, and ruled under the reign of Kien Phuc for only seven months before he was poisoned on 31 July 1884. The Kien Phuc Thong Bao is one of the major rarities from the reign title coins of the Nguyen dynasty. The specimen on offer in this sale is one of six known, once owned by Jules Silvestre, author of “Notes Pour Servir à la Recherche et au Classement des Monnaies et Médailles de l'Annam et de la Cochinchine Française”, 1883, Saigon.
The Hong Kong Coin Auction will be held in the Crystal Conference Centre at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Kowloon Hong Kong on Thursday 3rd April. The catalogue will be available to view online at www.baldwin.com and online biding with no additional premium is available through the services of www.the-saleroom.com.