As Baldwin’s celebrated their 25th year of trading in the Orient bidders came out in force to ensure that this pinnacle auction was an outstanding success. The one day sale achieved an amazing, $5,256,675 (including buyer’s premium,) the highest total of any of Baldwin’s sales in the Orient and a fitting result for our 51st auction.
Held at The Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Kowloon, in conjunction with the Hong Kong International Coin Convention, the 1064 lot sale contained a plethora of Asian rarities. Some exceptional provenances and high grades were reflected in the prices achieved. Of the 857 lots sold results across the board were strong with a shift in the value of items selling online in recent times becoming apparent, as big ticket items sold to bidders whose faith in live internet bidding has reached an all time high. 14.12% of lots offered sold online for US$526,307 (including buyer’s premium,) with a further 31% selling in the room with an internet buyer as the under bidder. Lot 722, a Sun Yat-Sen Pattern Silver Dollar, Year 18, made in Italy sold online to a bidder in China for US$49,560.
The shift in interest from traditional to alternative investments has seen the banknote market flourish in recent months. The Chinese banknote section of the sale was proof positive that, like coins, well preserved, rare banknotes command high prices. Highlights included lot 9, a Qing Dynasty, Ta Ching Pao Chao, 100,000-Cash note selling for US$35,400 with an estimate of US$30,000 – 35,000. This note was printed in the first year of issue of the largest denomination of the series, which made it a significantly rare piece. Lot 60, a specimen of the famous '5 beauties’ banknote, sold for US$5,900, against its estimate of US$2,000-2,500. The note features five women's bust from the Han, Manchu, Mongolian, Xinjiang and Tibetan tribes of China, two on obverse and three on reverse. It is the only Chinese note with women as the central motif. Lot 71, a Banque de l’Indo-Chine specimen dollar sold for US$17,700 in line with its pre-sale estimate of US$15,000-18,000. A beautiful and intricate banknote in design, and in pristine uncirculated condition, it is not difficult to see why such an eye-catching piece provoked such interest.
The China-Empire coins contained a number of outstanding rarities in high grade that were assured to be popular amongst the bidders. Lot 298, a Hu Poo Silver Pattern 1-Tael was the star of the sale selling for US$271,400 against its estimate of US$140,000 – 180,000. This outstanding lot was one of a number of coins included in the sale that were sold previously through Baldwin’s as part of the Norman Jacobs Collection in 2008. If any more proof was needed regarding the strength of the Chinese market currently then the prices achieved for the ex Norman Jacobs lots included in the sale did just that. Lot 351, a fine example of a Chekiang Province Silver Pattern 5-Cents, was originally purchased from Spink-Taisei in 1990 by Edward Baldwin for Norman Jacobs. He paid US$2,100 for the item that was sold in 2008 for US$40,000 and last week made an astonishing US$129,800. Another incredible example of the surge in the market is lot 691, a Sun Yat-Sen Pattern Silver 50-Cents, Year 18. Made in Vienna this junk dollar was first purchased from the famous Kann collection in 1972 for US$90, it sold through the Hong Kong Coin Auction in 2008 for US$65,000, it opened last week at US$90,000, 1,000 times the amount it was bought for in 1972, and sold for an amazing US$188,800.
Lot 326, a long whisker dragon Silver Pattern Dollars from the Central mint at Tientsin, was the second of four examples included in the sale. Edward Baldwin, Chairman of Baldwin’s and A.H. Baldwin & Sons Oriental specialists commented prior to the sale that (including these four items) he had only ever encountered five examples of this pattern coin in his 40 years in the industry. It was therefore no surprise that this piece sold for an exceptional US$236,000 against an estimate of US$40,000-50,000.
Interesting and unusual lots dotted throughout the auction proved to be incredibly popular with buyers. The first of this kind was lot 241, an Eastern Han Bronze Mirror. Decorated with auspicious mythical beasts and ornate linked arcs on one side, the other is smooth and would have been polished to produce a reflection. This very special lot, estimated at US$500-600 sold for US$5,900. Lot 343, a General Issues, Pattern Silver Mace came with an interesting and highly regarded provenance as it was sold as part of the 1954 Farouk Collection through Sotheby’s in Cairo. This legendary collection was famously catalogued by Fred Baldwin of A.H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd, with the assistance of Fred’s nephew Albert (father of current Chairman Edward Baldwin.) The cataloguing took place in Cairo, under military guard and in a very short period of time. The lot was estimated at US10,000-15,000 and, although bidding slowed temporarily at US$14,000 the lot finally achieved a staggering!
US$51,920. Lot 950, a rare lot with wonderful historical resonance, sold in the room for US$165,200. The 1867 Victoria Silver Pattern 1-Tael was created as an attempt to bridge the gap between British and Chinese coin standards. The obverse of the coin depicts Queen Victoria with a key pattern design and the reverse Chinese characters.
High grade coins were plentiful in this sale and the common types in the highest grades really showed their worth with a number selling for well over pre-sale estimates. Lot 311, Lots 517 and 533, a Kwangtung Province Copper 10-Cash, and a Kwangtung Province Silver 10-Cents, were the two best examples selling for US$2,360 and US$33,040 respectively. Lot 517 carried an estimate of US$100-150 and lot 533 was estimated at US$2,200-2,800. Lot 840, a Yuan Shih-Kai Gold Dollar (1916) a good quality piece, sold for double the bottom estimate of US20,000 for a spectacular US$44,840 and lot 1049, an 1886 Korean Yi-Hong Copper-gilt Pattern sold for US$14,160 against an estimate of US$2,000-2,500.
Edward Baldwin, Baldwin’s Chairman commented after the sale:
“It is magnificent to have achieved such a fantastic result from this sale and the perfect outcome to our 51st auction and our celebration of 25 years in the Orient. The result of these many years of auctions and the tens of thousands of coins and banknotes sold can be measured
by the increased level of numismatic activity at our auctions. We are very proud of the arena that we have created, one that can only benefit the coin collector and add to the hobby. Many things have changed in the numismatic world over the last 25 years but our commitment to numismatics and to Asian numismatics in particular, has never faltered.
For a full copy of the prices relaised from this auction please visit www.baldwin.co.uk/auction-hkca51
For all enquires about auction or about any forthcoming auctions please contact Seth Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 (0)20 7930 6879.