Notes of China top lots in Hong Kong May 3 sale
- Published: Apr 23, 2022, 9 AM
A bank note of extraordinary rarity from one of China’s provincial banks, a 1904 10-tael note from the Hupeh Government Cash Bank, is one of the featured items in the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio auction of close to 10,000 lots in Hong Kong set for May 3.
The opening bid is listed at $135,000, but the firm expects the price to settle in the $225,000 to $275,000 range. The Paper Money Guaranty Very Fine 25 note is the only one ever graded by the service.
It is described as a fully issued with a low serial number, 85.
On the face, it is printed in a vertical format, with two portraits at the top and roughly three-fourths of it showing facing dragons at the center with a “pearl of wisdom” between the two. At the center is an intricately lathed geometric design. The underprint is a dulled-yellow color, and sharply contrasts against the dark black primary design.
The back, also in a vertical format, is printed in dark green with a floral design at center. At the top is CHINA in an unusual and interesting font, with KUPING CYCEE 10 TAELS and HUPEH GOVERNMENT CASH BANK in two lines at the bottom end.
Another rarity, which weeks before the sale, bid to $17,000, was already nearing its $25,000 low estimate, is one of the earliest pieces of all paper money, predating by a century even those of the Ming Dynasty. The unlisted piece is a Yuan Dynasty 2-kuan note dating to the years 1264 to 1341. The central design is of 20 coins on a string, the name of the bank at top, with flaming pearls on each side. PCGS Banknote graded it Choice Fine 15.
Adding to the note’s historical import is that Kublai Khan was the emperor from 1260 to 1294, most of the note’s issue period. Britannica.com says that he made paper money the sole medium of exchange in China, because the supply of copper was too small as it was being diverted to temples for the construction of statues. Kublai Khan is also the subject of the famous eponymous poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge published in 1816, starting with the famous lines “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree.”
The sale is available for viewing and bidding at StacksBowers.com.
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