$180,000 for a Chinese coin series missed by even the best collectors

Early next month, Ponterio Coins is set to kick off a major sale of World Crowns and Minors, with some other gold coins on offer too.

Whilst there are coins from all round the world on offer, the Hong Kong Division of Bowers and Merena begins with the Wa She Wong Collection of China and Hong Kong Coins, which includes some spectacular examples amongst the 478 lots.

Gold Coins, Empire General Issues, Republic General Issues, Provincial Issues, Medals, Soviet Issues, Fantasy Issues, Sycee, Mixed Lots, Honk Kong, and British Trade Dollars are all on offer. Some of the highlights include:

A 7 Mace 2 Candareens (Dollar) coin, dating to 1897, typically described as Heaton Mint Proof Striking with Plain Edge.

The Heaton Mint at Birmingham was commissioned in 1897 to produce a series of five silver denominations for the Nanking Mint. Upon completion, a small number of proof strikes along with sets of dies were shipped to the mint in Nanking.

After their arrival the mint began production using the original Heaton Mint design, the only modification being the addition of a security edge.

Described in Ponterio's listing as "one of the most beautiful coins this cataloguer has been privileged to handle", the coin is rated by the NGC as PROOF-66 and estimated at US$39,000. But of course rare Chinese coins have been smashing their estimates recently, especially in Hong Kong, making them excellent investments.

A set of Candareens (20 Cents), 7 3/10 Candareens (10 Cents) and 3.65 Candareens (5 Cents) also from the Heaton Mint is likely to beat this.

They are from a series referred to by numismatists as the "Seven Three Reversed Pattern", the term "Seven Three" directly relates to the silver content. The term "Reversed Pattern" refers to the English and Chinese legends which are reversed from what later became standard.

Initially Kwangtung introduced the first coinage with a higher silver value with the intention of replacing foreign coins circulating within China. The standard of 7 Mace 2 Candareens for the most expensive coins was raised to 7 Mace 3 Candareens in order to gain public acceptance and replace the Mexican 8 reales.

Soon after the series release they were being melted down to retrieve the excess silver content. The small collection on offer is expected to sell for US$90,000.

Upon the realisation that the first Kwangtung issues were being gathered from circulation and melted for their extra silver content, authorities quickly ordered a modification to the new coinage design.

7 Mace and 2 Chinese coin
7 Mace and 2 Candareens coin

New patterns were produced at the Kwangtung Mint using hubs supplied by the Birmingham Mint. Essentially these were identical to Allan Wyon's original design with a few modifications. The weight was changed from 7 Mace 3 Candareens on the Dollar to 7 Mace 2 Candareens and correspondingly smaller per denomination.

Another subtle change that was made, but only on some denominations, was the addition of small rosettes at either side of the dragon.

The complete set of five from 5c to $1 on offer here is much more rare than the "Seven Three" set as the "Seven Two" set was struck in a much smaller quantity and apparently never released for circulation.

The very elusive series never entered most major collections, including Irving Goodman and Eduard Kann, both of whom had only the 5 cent and 10 cent. The complete set here is available with an estimate of US$180,000.

Ponterio's first auction takes place on December 3-4. Watch this space for the results and more details of the subsequent auctions. The year is going out with a bang for coin collectors!


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