Insights

Historic Chinese coins, patterns bring top dollar in Fritz Rudolph Künker’s spring auction

1896 dollar, 1897 pattern among highlights leading sale
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By Jeff Starck - Coin World Staff
Published : 04/18/14
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An 1896 dollar from China’s Pei-Yang Province led all bidding in Fritz Rudolph Künker’s auction No. 246 on March 11 and 12, 2014.

The coin realized a hammer price of €140,000 (about $194,247 in U.S. funds) compared to an estimate of €15,000 (about $20,812 U.S.). It was one of 150 lots of Chinese coins, ranging from issues of the Zhou Dynasty (1122 to 255 B.C.) to modern coins, offered in the auction.

The Year 22 (1896) coin was graded Mint State 62 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., which notes that the grade corresponds to Extremely Fine to Mint State under the European grading standards.

The buyer’s fee varies depending on lot and location of the winning bidder, but may range from 15 to 23 percent, so it is not reflected in the totals here.

Other highlights include two pattern coins from Fungtien, in Fengtien Province. Both patterns reflect the growing need in China for minting technology as the country made the transition from traditional coinage to modern, machine-struck coins.

The patterns include a 7-mace, 2-candareen (dollar) piece and a 1-mace, 4.4-candareen (20 cents) piece, both undated but struck circa 1897 in brass.

The patterns come from the archives of a German firm, the Otto Beh Company. Beh was a subcontractor for the Louis Schuler Co., another German firm also in the state of Baden-Wurrtumberg. In 1895, Schuler received the contract to provide presses and minting equipment to China, and Beh was subcontracted to complete the dies (called “minting stamps” in the catalog). Beh produced more than 200 “embossing punches” for the order, which was the firm’s largest to that point.

In 2009 the Beh Company celebrated its 125th anniversary, and a catalog of the medals, badges and pins it has created was issued.

Schuler also remains active today, still delivering coinage presses to Asia and around the world.

The dollar pattern was graded EF and realized €38,000 (about $52,730 U.S.). The 20-cent piece was graded EF and realized €18,000 (about $24,982 U.S.).

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