Ta Ching banknote colour trials lead Spink's Hong Kong currency auction

Whilst many auctioneers are still recovering from their New Year's parties, Spink is already limbering up for substantial sales of coins and currency in Hong Kong.

In amongst the hundreds of banknote/paper money lots, there are around half a dozen which are expected to make over HK$200,000 (US$25,750), three of them dating to almost exactly a century ago and one much older.

The earliest 'banknote' dates back to a time before many would have thought that paper money existed: it is a 2 kuan cash note from the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), with black text on grey mulberry bark paper, a red seal at the top centre, two strings of 10 cash coin images at the centre and Mongol text at the top left and right.

A little history: The earliest paper money in the world was produced by the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty (618-1279) for the sake of practical expediency these "flying cash" notes (called because they blew away in the wind!) were for local use mainly in Szechuan and could be converted into cash.

Yuan Dynasty 2 kuan cash note
Well preserved: The Yuan Dynasty 2 kuan cash note

Subsequently the practice was continued by the Chin Dynasty (1115-1234) who established a paper currency bureau in Kaifeng.

Later after the Mongol invasion of China, the Yuan dynasty (1264-1368) carried on the practice of issuing paper currency but due to excessive printing the value of this currency was severely diminished.

Paradoxically, examples of the Yuan dynasty notes are extremely rare and the condition tends to be poor, this lot (in exceptional, complete condition) is also a conditional rarity and an important discovery. It is expected to sell for HK$200,000-250,000.

There are also three sets of banknotes from the Ta Ching Government Bank comprising colour trials, specimens and a final colour proof for a $100 note.

Ta Ching Government Bank colour trial banknote
Prince Chun watches a dragon seek the sun on the
Ta Ching Government Bank colour trial banknote

The set of colour trial obverse and reverse proofs comprise $1 (August 1910), series A, lilac banknotes with Prince Chun at the left in an oval frame. A depiction of a dragon flying right is at the centre, with boats below, a cresting wave to the lower left and the value at each corner.

The reverse(s) is/are blue, with a dragon and the value at the centre, the bank's title above, with the value also appearing at each corner.

The lot also includes a colour trial obverse and reverse proof $5, (green and orange brown respectively) and a colour trial obverse and reverse proof $10 (brown and green respectively) and finally a colour trial obverse and reverse proof for a $100, with the design as that for the $1.

Some damp spotting appears at the top border, but otherwise the notes are in good extremely fine condition and very rare. The colour trial lot is expected to achieve HK$350,000-400,000 (US$51,500) on January 14.


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