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Wa She Wong Collection of Chinese and Other Asian Coins Tops $10.7 Million at Hong Kong Auction

Exclusive NGC-graded sale marks most important array of Chinese coinage offered at auction in 20 years

Over 300 anxious bidders filled the live auction floor for the highly anticipated sale of the Wa She Wong Collection and other Asian Coins on Dec. 3-4. The Hong Kong auction, presented by Ponterio & Associates, a division of Bowers and Merena Auctions, featured 1,107 lots with total sales reaching $10.7 million.

“A collection of Chinese coinage of this magnitude has not come to market in over 20 years and it surely did not disappoint,” said Rick Ponterio, executive vice president of Bowers and Merena. “We saw such spirited bidding, the sale of the first 487 lots took an astounding 11 hours with many of the lots selling for multiple times their estimated value.”

Drawing worldwide attention, the collection is a compilation of Wa She Wong’s lifelong passion for collecting which contained multiple rarities missing from major exhibits including many scarce pattern coins that were never released into general circulation. Headlining the collection, the 1890 Kwantung Mint Specimen Set, lot 220, began with an estimated value of $300,000 and realized a staggering $718,750. The set represents a landmark in Chinese minting as the first silver coinage produced with modern machinery.

Another important coin was the extremely rare “Flying Dragon” Szechuan 30 Cash Struck in Copper, lot 311. Opening at $12,500, lively bidding quickly brought the coin to a final selling price of $460,000. “The buyer had been searching for this rarity, one of only two known in private hands, for more than 30 years. The two other examples known to exist are housed in public museum collections,” said Ponterio.

All major rarities in the collection were certified by the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation (NGC), a market leader in grading Chinese coins, and pedigreed as “Wa She Wong Collection” on individual holders. Additional highlights of the Wa She Wong Collection include:

  • Lot 3, 1920 “Yuan Shi Kai” Dollar Struck in Gold, MS-64 (NGC), realized $138,000
  • Lot 27, 1911 “Long-Whisker” Dragon Pattern Dollar Struck in Silver, MS-65 (NGC), realized $431,250 (Ex: Kann Collection)
  • Lot 130, 1844 Changchow Military Rotation Dollar, AU-50 (NGC), realized $103,500
  • Lot 139, 1909 Honan Pattern 20 Cash Struck in Copper, AU-55 BN (NGC), realized $126,500
  • Lot 147, 1930 Hunan Pattern 500 Cash Struck in Copper, MS-63 BN (NGC), realized $103,500
  • Lot 162, 1897 Kiangnan Dollar, Plain Edge, Proof-66 Cameo (NGC), realized $373,750
  • Lot 172, 1899 Kiangnan 50 cents, AU Details (NGC), realized $172,500 (Ex: Kann Collection)
  • Lot 219, 1888 Kwantung Mint Specimen Set, Seven Three Reverse Pattern, K-16/20 (NGC), realized $546,250
  • Lot 234, 1898 Shensi Mint Specimen Set, K-156/159 (50¢, 20¢, 10¢, 5¢), realized $258,750
  • Lot 340, 1935 Shensi Soviet Dollar, Large Hammer & Sickle, XF Details (NGC), realized $92,000
  • Lot 475, 1921 British Trade Dollar, AU-55 (NGC), realized $43,700

In day two of the sale, Asian coins and paper money also performed very well. A standout coin in these sessions was lot 1123, a 1929 Austrian Pattern “Sun Yat Sen” Dollar, MS-61 (NGC), which realized $207,000. This rarity was discovered as part of the Richard Platch Estate, an engraver at the Vienna Mint that was responsible for several important Chinese patterns. Additional highlights from day two of the sale include:

  • Lot 1039, 1897 Kiangnan Dollar, Ornamental Edge, MS-62 (NGC), realized $103,500
  • Lot 1195, 1912 Shandong Gaobianbao 50 Tael, High-Sided Sycee Ingot, Choice Very Fine, realized $86,250
  • Lot 2138, Banque De L’Indo-Chine 5 Piastres Specimen, Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ (PMG), realized $57,500

Additional material from the Wa She Wong Collection will be offered at Ponterio & Associates’ next Hong Kong sale in August 2011 and the company is currently accepting consignments of Chinese and other Asian coins and paper money.

The Wa She Wong sale wraps-up an outstanding week of auctions in Hong Kong for Spectrum Group International. Spectrum Wine Auctions’ sale on Dec. 5 realized $4.4 million – the highest since the company formed a year ago, and John Bull Stamp Auctions hosted its largest sale ever Nov. 25-28 with $3.5 million in total sales.

Bowers and Merena’s next auction is the January 2011 Tampa Bay Rarities Sale which is scheduled for Jan. 4, immediately preceding the FUN Show in Florida. The sale will feature Part II of the impressive Malibu Collection. Ponterio & Associates’ next auction is the January N.Y.I.N.C. Auction scheduled for Jan. 7-8 in New York.

For a complete list of auction highlights and prices realized, visit the firm’s web site at www.bowerandmerena.com or call 800-458-4646.

For more information about Bowers and Merena and Ponterio & Associates, or to consign to an upcoming auction, call 800-458-4646. For media inquiries, ask for Director of Operations, Brian Kendrella. Complete prices realized for all past auctions are available at www.bowersandmerena.com.

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