Paper Money

Chinese, Batavian notes among top lots at Hong Kong sale

The top note in Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio October Hong Kong auction was this De Javasche Bank 50-gulden note that went for $40,800.

Images courtesy of Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio.

Paper money was not the centerpiece of the seven-session, 4,600-lot Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio October 2020 Hong Kong auction, but the firm says what was offered drew a good deal of interest.

A 1909 Ta-Ching Government Bank $5 specimen note in Paper Money Guaranty Superb Gem Uncirculated 67 Exceptional Paper Quality nearly doubled its low estimate to sell for $19,200, including the buyer’s fee. The blue and brown obverse has a vignette of Li Hung Chang at left, a gazebo at right and a large multicolored ornamental design in between. 

A set of face and back 50,000-yuan specimen notes from 1950 sold for $10,200 on an estimate of $1,500 to $2,500. PMG graded them Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ. Estimated at the same price and selling for $20,400 was another specimen note, from a puppet bank during the Japanese occupation, the Hua-Hsing Commercial Bank. The undated (1938) 5-yuan note was in PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 EPQ.

A rainbow-colored 1941 Mercantile Bank of India Ltd. $50 issued for Hong Kong, printed by Waterlow and Sons, and graded Choice Very Fine 35 by PMG, realized $21,600. It is the best of the 12 examples so far graded by the service.

The top note went for $40,800 after being projected to go for somewhere between $2,500 and $4,500. It was not Chinese, but rather hailed from De Javasche Bank in Batavia, as the Netherlands East Indies was known on the issue date of May 13, 1938.

The face of the 50-gulden note shows a pair of male and female Javanese dancers at left and right.

The price is most likely a function of the PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ grade. Of the 231 examples so far graded by PMG, only three others have a 64 designation and one 63. A Choice Very Fine 35 example recently sold for $960, so the $4,500 high estimate was not out of line.

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