Coin Fever In Kowloon: Hong Kong Auction Series Pulls In $10.5 Million

Four-Day Stack’s Bowers And Ponterio Auction Attracts Strong Local Bidding

This 1856 tael sold last week in Hong Kong for US$38,838 We’ve become accustomed to seeing Chinese collectors engage in frenzied bidding for rare imperial antiques, blue-chip Chinese modern and contemporary art, fine wine and jewelry at Hong Kong auctions. But one auction segment that tends to fly under the radar despite its growing popularity among China’s new generation of collectors is historical and rare currency. However, with the success of the recent four-day Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio sale of three catalogs, encompassing everything from Chinese coins and provincial issues to modern Chinese coins and paper money, this could change. Held last week at the Mira Hotel in Kowloon, the auction series attracted massive attention from Hong Kong and mainland Chinese bidders, ultimately pulling in an impressive US$10,546,612.

As with the art auction market, provenance was key in this series, with local buyers homing in on lots from important collections such as the Wa She Wong Collection, the Frank Robinson Collection, the Dr. John Abner Snell Collection, Duplicates from the American Numismatic Society Museum Collection and the Neil Nelson Collection.

As CoinWeek notes:

Among Imperial issues was a rare 1911 Tientsin Pattern 50 Cents struck in silver graded NGC MS-63, an attractive piece from the ANS Museum Duplicates Collection that sold for $96,600. Provincial issues offered an extremely rare Kwan Ping Trade Coinage Pattern 1 Mace, struck in silver and graded NGC MS-64. An attractive coin with an interesting history, this piece climbed to a strong $107,550. A few lots later appeared the finest certified Kwangtung Dollar (7 Mace 2 Candareens), a wonderful gem graded NGC SP-67 that saw heavy bidding and brought an exciting $167,300.

Modern Chinese issues featured a Gem Proof Yan Di 1993 500 Yuan, a coin from a mintage of just 99 pieces graded NGC Proof-68 Ultra Cameo. Hotly contested, this gem sold for an incredible $167,300, more than fifteen times its pre-sale estimate! Executive Vice President Rick Ponterio noted, “I am very pleased with the results of our recent Hong Kong sale. The market for Asian rarities continues to grow and the demand for high quality numismatic items is at an all-time high. Attendance was very strong and enthusiasm was high—two strong factors that combined to create a dynamic sale.”

Collectors who missed out on this Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio series will have another chance to stock up on rare coins and currency when the auction house returns to Hong Kong this August, offering part four of the Wa She Wong Collection.

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Art & Auction