Auction Report: 1908 Hunan Government Chinese 100 Coppers Banknote Brings $15,220

This high-grade Chinese Hunan government banknote for 100 coppers, 1908 issue, found a new home for $15,220 after a fierce floor competition at the first auction ever conducted in Hong Kong by Archives International Auctions.

HONG KONG, China – A high-grade Chinese Hunan government banknote for 100 coppers, 1908 issue, hammered for $15,220 after a fierce floor competition at the first auction ever conducted in Hong Kong by Archives International Auctions, a firm based in Fort Lee, N.J. The banknote was the top lot in an auction that saw 609 lots change hands and grossed $523,350.

Archives International Auctions, in association with Dynasty Auctions, Ltd., offered the Allen Berk single-owner lifetime collection of rare Chinese and Asian banknotes, plus other consignments, at the Harbor Plaza North Point Hotel in Hong Kong. The Berk collection and additional consignments of banknotes and coins marked the first day of what went on to become a spectacular three-day numismatic and philatelic event, with Dynasty hosting the following two days with a successful Asian philatelic auction.

Included in the Archives International Auctions portion of the auction (Jan. 26) were more than 1,000 lots of rare and highly collectible Chinese, Asian and worldwide banknotes, coins and scripophily (the collecting of stock certificates). Of that total, 609 lots sold, for a 57 percent sell-through. The Dynasty Auctions, Ltd., sale (Jan. 27-28) featured stamps and postal history.

“Our auction was a great success and was well received by a very enthusiastic live audience, as well as fierce competition from Internet and phone bidders,” said Dr. Robert Schwartz of Archives International Auctions. “This was our first Hong Kong auction, but it won’t be our last. Already we are laying plans for a second auction, either in late fall or early winter.”

This Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China, Tientsin Branch, $10 banknote, garnered $2,590.

Schwartz estimated the crowd in the room at about 40 people, while at least that many people registered to bid online. In addition, between 40 and 50 absentee bids were tallied, and five to 10 people participated by phone.

“We weren’t sure what to expect from this inaugural sale, but it was great,” Schwartz said.

Following are additional highlights from the auction (all prices quoted include an 18-percent buyer’s premium and are given in U.S. dollars):

Highlights from the Allen Berk collection are too numerous to list, but they included a Yu Ning Imperial Bank 1907 “Ch’eng Yang” copper coin issue in high-grade that sailed past its pre-sale estimate to realize $6,850; and an issued National Commercial Bank, Ltd., “Shanghai” Branch issue from 1923 that also easily outdistanced its pre-sale estimate to gavel for $3,040.

The second session included banknotes from the Hamtramck collection, as well as coins and other banknotes from various consignors. High points included a Board of Trade 1850s-issued banknote for 3 Taels ($6,090 for a 5-Tael note brought $8,370); two different 5,000 Cash Ching issues ($2,740 and $3,040); and a Commercial Bank of China $50 1920 specimen note ($3,350).

The Peoples Bank of China section of the auction did extremely well, with 23 of 26 lots selling for strong prices. Top earners included a 1949 200-Yuan high-grade issue that changed hands for $1,520; a pair of 1950 50,000-Yuan Uniface front-and-back specimens ($2,280); and a trio of early 1895 Taiwan official silver notes that sold for prices ranging from $1,220 to $1,670.

This Board of Trade issue, 5 Taels, realized $8,370. A 3 Taels version of the same issue brought $6,090.

A Thor Mohlen note from 1695, for 25 Rixdaler Croner, hammered for $4,870.

Two MS-66 uncirculated Japanese Coiled Dragon dollars (including this one) made $3,960 each.

A remainder Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China, Tientsin Branch $10 banknote hammered for $2,590; a private local issue District Bank of Shehung trio of banknotes coasted to $1,980; a Yu Fang Shang Banking Co., Chefoo, 1905 private reserve, brought a very impressive $7,610; and a Government of Hong Kong 1975 $20,000 specimen bond hit the mark for $1,670.

Coins proved to be popular crowd-pleasers, with nearly all coin lots selling. Japan put in a very strong appearance, with a pair of MS-66 uncirculated Coiled Dragon dollars changing hands for $3,960 each. Worldwide banknotes also did extremely well, especially the Hong Kong section. A Hong Kong $500 1931 Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China fetched $7,610.

Rounding out the list of top lots: a group of Mercantile Bank of India notes wowed the crowd, with a $50 1941 issue knocking down at $11,420 and a $10 1941issued in high-grade making $6,850. Also, a small but significant 1877 Southwest Battle military note topped out at $1,670; and a 1695 Thor Mohlen note 25-Rixdaler Croner hammered for a respectable $4,870.

Archives International Auctions’ next sale of U.S. and worldwide banknotes, scripophily and security printing ephemera will be held April 13, in the firm’s gallery at 1580 Lemoine Ave. (Suite 7) in Fort Lee, N.J. Consignments are also being accepted for an auction dedicated to U.S. and worldwide banknotes, scripophily and rare coins scheduled for June 4, also in Fort Lee.

For more information about this auction or to consign a single item or a collection, call 201.944.4800, e-mail to or visit the Archives International Auctions website.

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