Chinese numismatics drive Hong Kong sale to more than $5 million

1903 1-tael pattern brings $271,400, leading Baldwin's 51st Hong Kong sale
Published : 09/20/11
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The market for Chinese coins has expanded in the past three years, as evidenced by the results of an Aug. 25 auction in Hong Kong.

Baldwin’s and Ma Tak Wo Numismatic Co. Ltd. jointly conducted Hong Kong Coin Auction No. 51 at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile, in Kowloon, Hong Kong. The firms offered Chinese and other Asian paper money, coins and medals (with some world lots also included) in the public auction. The auction, Baldwin’s 51st during 25 years of conducting auctions in the region, realized $5,256,675, including the 18 percent buyer’s fee, “the highest total of any of Baldwin’s sales in the Orient,” according to the firm.

The 1,064-lot auction was conducted in conjunction with the Hong Kong International Coin Convention. A total of 857 lots, or 80.5 percent offered, sold.

Leading the auction was a highlight from China’s Empire period, a Year 29 (1903) silver 1-tael pattern issued by the Hu Poo (Board of Revenue) during the reign of Kuang Hsu. The coin realized $271,400 including the buyer’s fee (all prices listed reflect the fee), against an estimate of $140,000 to $180,000.

The coin was one of many that Baldwin’s had sold in 2008 as part of the Norman Jacobs Collection, when it sold for $103,500, including a 15 percent buyer’s fee.

Many other examples of items from the Jacobs Collection offered in the September auction realized multiples of what they sold for just three years ago, including an undated (1902) silver 5-cent pattern from Chekiang Province that was struck by the Heaton Mint in Birmingham. It realized $129,800, compared to $46,000 in the Jacobs Collection auction in 2008.

Another example is the Year 18 (1929) pattern silver 50-cent coin of Sun Yat-Sen, which was made in Vienna and is one of two pieces that were not melted when the issue was rejected. Sold for $74,750 in 2008, it realized $188,800 in the 2011 auction.

Edward Baldwin, company chairman, was thrilled with the results.

Baldwin said the “fantastic results” are “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. ... 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.”

The firm noted that about one-in-seven lots sold to online bidders bidding live, the highest percentage of live Internet bidding for the firm.

The offering of paper money in the auction also experienced high demand, as “the shift in interest from traditional to alternative investments has seen the banknote market flourish in recent months,” according to the firm.

Full results of the auction are posted at the company website,

Telephone Baldwin’s at (011) 44 20 7930 9808 or email the firm at

Some paper money highlights:

China, Qing Dynasty, Xian Feng Year 7 (1857) 100,000-cash note, serial No. 12706, Ta Ching Pao Chao, Very Fine,“usual spike holes at top and a small piece missing from top left corner,” $35,400.

China, Banque de l’Indo-Chine, Jan. 18, 1902, one dollar (1-piastre) bank note specimen, Canton Shameen, serial No. 0.00, Uncirculated, “small black smudge in right margin of the reverse,” $17,700.

Some coin highlights:

China, Central Mint at Tientsin, 1907 silver dollar pattern, Kann 212 ( Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Coins: Gold, Silver, Nickel & Aluminum by Eduard Kann), Uncirculated, $59,000.

China, Central Mint at Tientsin, Year 3 (1911) Long Whisker Dragon silver dollar pattern, Hsuan Tung, Kann 223, NGC Mint State 61, $177,700.

China, Central Mint at Tientsin, Year 3 (1911) Long Whisker Dragon silver dollar pattern, Hsuan Tung, Kann 223, NGC MS-63, $236,000.

China, Central Mint at Tientsin, Year 3 (1911) Long Whisker Dragon silver dollar pattern, Hsuan Tung, Kann 223, NGC MS-61, $41,300.

China, General issues, undated (circa 1858) pattern silver mace, Kwan Ping, Kann 926II, “Kann thought these pieces were struck in England by the Royal Mint, London, but this cannot yet be confirmed,” PCGS Specimen 62, $51,920.

China, Chekian Province, undated (1902) silver 5-cent pattern, by Heaton Mint in Birmingham, Kann 123, NGC Specimen 67, $129,800.

China, Chekian Province, undated (1902) silver 10-cent pattern, struck by Heaton Mint in Birmingham, Kann 122, NGC Specimen 67, $88,500.

China, Chihli Province, Year 33 (1907) silver tael, Kuang Hsu, Kann 938a, Professional Coin Grading Service MS-62, $141,600.

China, Hupeh Province, Year 30 (1904) silver tael, Lin and Ma 180 ( Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Gold & Silver Coins, Ching and Republican Issues, by Lin Gwo Ming, Ma Tak Wo editor), PCGS MS-64, $70,800.

China, Kwangtung Province, undated (1890 to 1908) silver dollar, Krause-Mishler Y203 ( Standard Catalog of World Coins by Chester Krause and Clifford Mishler), NGC Specimen 64, $51,000.

China, Shensi Province, undated (1898) silver 20-cent pattern, Kann 157, NGC Specimen 67, $106,200.

China, undated (1912) silver dollar, Li Yuan-Hung, founding of the republic, LM-43, NGC MS-65, $51,920.

China, Year 18 (1929) silver 20-cent pattern, Sun Yat-Sen, made in Vienna, Austria, Kann 617-II, “only two pieces retained by the mint, the rest were melted,” NGC MS-64, $171,100.

China, Year 18 (1929) silver 10-cent pattern, Sun Yat-Sen, made in Vienna, Austria, Kann 617-I, “only two pieces retained by the mint, the rest were melted,” NGC MS-62, $188,800.

China, Year 18 (1929) silver dollar pattern, Sun Yat-Sen, made in Italy, Kann 614, LM-92, PCGS Specimen 63, $49,560.

China, undated (1916) gold dollar, Yuan Shih-Kai, on the installation of Yuan Shih-Kaui as the Emperor Hung Hsien, Kann 1560, LM-1114, NGC MS-62, $44,840.

Hong Kong, 1866 silver dollar, reeded edge, KM-10, PCGS Proof 64, $64,900.

Hong Kong, 1867 silver 1-tael pattern, Queen Victoria, KM-YPn122, NGC Proof 62, $165,200. ■

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