Japanese Proof Collection Star of Heritage NYINC 2017 Signature Auction

Japanese Meiji Year 13 (1880) proof coins - possibly the most complete set in the world - will be auctioned in Heritage Auctions' World Coins Signature Auction at the 45th New York International Numismatic Convention, January 8-9, 2017

20 Yen Gold PF64 Cameo NGC. Image courtesy Heritage AuctionsHeritage Auctions' will be offering one of the most coveted Japanese collections at the 2017 New York International Numismatic Convention, January 8-9 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Just a handful of Proof coins were produced by the Japan Mint in 1880 for use only in presentation sets.

“Ornate and sharply struck, they are often listed amongst the most beautiful Japanese coins in existence," said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Executive Vice President of International Numismatics. “Proofs were struck for 13 types, and 11 are present in this collection. It is believed to be the most complete set of Meiji Year 13 proofs outside of the Japanese Mint Museum."

A 20 Yen Gold PF64 Cameo NGC leads the consignment. It is one of the rarest Japanese coins of any era, with less than 10 of the original 103-piece mintage thought to exist. Records indicate an example of this issue has only sold once this century, a PF63 NGC example from the Norman Jacobs Collection realized $230,000 USD in 2011. The piece features fully mirrored fields and exceptionally crisp details, particularly within the dragon motif and kanji characters.

Only twice in the past two decades have collections of Meiji Year 13 proof coins been offered for public auction. “It's tremendously exciting to be offering these proofs," said Bierrenbach. “The Pittman sale in 1999 and the Norman Jacobs sale in 2011 attracted bidders from all over the world, and this collection is superior in both quality and completeness."

Between five and 15 pieces of each type are thought to exist, as many were destroyed or melted down during the Empire of Japan's 14 consecutive years of war from 1931 to 1945.

Also starring is a 10 Yen Gold PF64 Cameo NGC. Records indicate this is the finest example ever offered at public auction in the West. Although slightly more were struck than the 20 Yen Proof (136), the 10 Yen piece is generally considered more scarce, with only five pieces known. An example also sold from the Norman Jacobs Collection, reaching $253,000.

A 5 Yen Gold PF65 Cameo NGC is expected to attract considerable interest from collectors. Although the 5 Yen gold coin was a common circulation strike, the 1880 Proof strike is easily the rarest of the gold Year 13 set. Just 79 were minted, and an example has not been offered publicly in 17 years.

The 2 Yen Gold PF66 Cameo NGC offered is the finest Meiji Year 13 proof of any denomination or composition known. This example exhibits extraordinarily crisp details and full luster. This is also the rarest pattern offered in the set. Struck periodically between 1876 and 1892, total production of the type was 304. 87 were produced in 1880, and this is believed to be only the third time an example of this rarity has been offered to the public in the West.

Leading the silver offerings is a 1 Yen PF65 NGC. This example is believed to be one of the rarer strikes from this already low-mintage set. During the first years of the Meiji Era, 1 Yen coins were produced in both gold and silver. Gold coins were intended to be used domestically, while the silver issues depicting both the composition (.900) and weight in grains (416) were intended for international trade. While circulation examples of the silver 1 yen pieces are quite common, this is the first time Heritage has offered a proof-struck example.

The sale will give collectors an opportunity to purchase two uncirculated proofs from the set for the first time since 1999. The silver 50 Sen PF63 NGC offered is one of approximately five or six survivors from the original mintage of 179. A silver 5 Sen PF64 NGC is one of 10-12 thought to exist. A total mintage of 77 not only makes this not only the least-produced coin in the 1880 set, but also the scarcest 5 Sen coin in the denomination's 76-year history.

Also featuring in the set:

Altogether, the 11-coin collection is expected to realize more than $1 million.
 

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