Chinese Silver Pattern Dollar 'that escaped the reference books' brings $320,000
This previously 'unknown' numismatic rarity led the way at Baldwin's breathtaking rare coin auction
At the weekend, Baldwin's much anticipated auction of rare coins, medals and currency took place - and it didn't disappoint.
Whilst coins, awards and banknotes hailed from all over the world in the 1,130 lots sale - China, Japan, Thailand, India and even from the United States and Britain, the Chinese sections were the ones the world was watching expectantly.
Some results exceeded anyone's expectations.
A Kiangnan Province Silver 50 Cent piece estimated at a moderate $3,000 caused a frenzy of bidding, only leaving the stage for $65,000 whilst a Kirin Province Silver Dollar - albeit extremely fine - which had carried a casual $300 listing sold for a frankly astonishing $24,000. That's 80 times its estimate.
Whilst the strongest results were from around the turn of the century, some earlier, more basic coins also excited collectors and investors. A silver 100-Tael boat-shaped Sycee brought $40,000 against a $9,000 listing - a big news story in any other auction.
However the top lot was, as expected, the Chekiang Province silver pattern dollar, Kuang Hsu, Year 23 (1897).
Uncirculated, and so rare that it escaped Eduard Kann's standard 1954 work on Chinese coins, the specimen which went under the hammer was given to an ancestor (a great-grand uncle) of the consignor, one Vice-Admiral Alois von Accurti (1869-1919) of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Accurti was a part of naval operations off Crete in 1897 and later served as naval attaché at several embassies of the Empire around the World. He was presumably presented with the coin in an official capacity, as he was not known to be an active coin collector.
The unique piece beat even its $150,000-200,000 estimate to sell for $320,000 - an extraordinary result for its owner, and testament to the power of rare Chinese coin investment.
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Images: A H Baldwin and Sons