A modern Chinese rarity became the third Chinese coin to cross the
$1 million mark within five months during an Aug. 28 auction in Hong Kong.
The Proof 1992 1-kilogram gold 2,000-yuan coin, serially numbered
06 from a maximum mintage of 10 (and with a reported actual mintage of
five pieces), realized $1.298 million U.S. including the 18 percent
The coin was sold in an auction conducted by Champion Hong Kong
Auctions at the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong in Kowloon, Hong Kong. The
sale was the firm’s second auction focused on modern Chinese material.
The price established a new record for modern kilogram gold
Chinese coins and helped propel the 186-lot auction of modern Chinese
coins to realize $5,170,382 U.S., including the buyer’s fees.
Several lots in the auction reflected the raging market for modern
Chinese coins (those pieces dated from 1979 to the present), but the
leader was the kilogram .999 fine gold coin, which was graded Proof 69
Ultra Cameo by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.
The 2,000-yuan coin, with its depiction of a compass, is part of a
series celebrating Chinese inventions and discoveries. Having a
mintage suspected at only five pieces, it is the rarest gold kilo coin
of China and maybe the rarest of all authorized coinage of China,
according to Michael Chou, CEO of iAsure, parent to Champion Hong Kong Auctions.
The Compass coin eclipsed the previous record holder for a
1-kilogram coin, a 1994 Year of the Unicorn coin, according to Chou.
The Unicorn coin realized 3.91 million Chinese yuan renminbi (about
$602,326 in U.S. funds at the time) in a June auction by Chou’s firm.
Nicholas Brown, of Chicago-based Majestic Rarities, was one of six
people in the room prepared to pay $1 million or more for the coin,
according to Chou, noting that all six bidders had to be pre-approved.
One bidder was from Singapore, one from Southeast Asia and three from
China, with Brown rounding out the bold bidders.
Brown confirmed his participation in the auction with Coin
World. “I really wanted that coin in the United States, and it
His maximum bid, he said, was $900,000 plus the 18 percent buyer’s
fee, or $1,062,000, and he thought he could have acquired it for that
price, if the opening bid had been $750,000 or $800,000.
“How many guys are going to pony up at $1 million,” Brown asked
rhetorically. “But the first bid was $1 million. It was already higher
than my maximum bid. In hindsight maybe I should have prepared to bid
more,” he said.
Earlier record set
The new record price for a kilogram coin did not top the overall
record price for a modern Chinese coin, established earlier this year
by a Proof 1991 10-kilogram .999 fine gold 10,000-yuan coin that Chou
purchased for a client for the equivalent of $1,567,190 in U.S. funds
(Coin World, June 20 issue).
The Compass 2,000-yuan coin does, however, rank as the second most
expensive modern Chinese coin sold at auction.
The abundance of high-visibility rarities in the Champion Hong
Kong Auctions sale, which drew a lot of wealthy bidders to the
auction, helped all of the lots, according to Chou.
Many people do not want to go home empty handed after a trip to
Hong Kong, he said, adding, “It’s an ego thing as many of [their]
fellow collectors are there.
“There was still a huge amount of buying power in the room to
drive prices for the other coins in the sale,” Chou said.
Coin size is driving much of the marketplace, according to Brown.
“Bigger is better. People like the gold kilos. 5-ounce gold used to be
the standard, but as they finished their sets, they moved into
12-ounce gold coins. Now they’ve shifted again.”
The room was full of actual buyers and not agents, Chou said. This
reflects the money pouring into the market for Chinese coins, Brown
said, likening it to the second inning of a nine-inning baseball game.
“You have new money coming in to the market every day. When rarities
come out people are willing to pony up to get them,” he said.
How strong is the market for modern Chinese coins? Chou noted that
the firm’s other auction, some 1,400 lots of material over three days,
realized $4,052,155, or 20 percent less than the 186 lots of modern material.
Champion Hong Kong’s Modern China Auction III is scheduled for
Dec. 4, in conjunction with the first Hong Kong Invitational
The consignment deadline for that auction is Oct. 7.
For results from Champion Auctions’ other Hong Kong sale, find the
story online at www.coinworld.com/categories/market-updates/. ■