Caroline Newton forwarded this press release about the firm's upcoming April 2014 Hong Kong sale. Thanks!
As dredgers scour the seabeds of Tangasseri harbour in Kollam city, Kerala, India, in the hunt to discover more Chinese coins’ London based auctioneers, A. H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd, give buyers an easier way to buy a piece of Chinese monetary history at their 56th Hong Kong Coin Auction of Far Eastern and World Coins, Medals and Banknotes, in association with Ma Tak Wo Numismatic Co Ltd, Hong Kong.
A very rare Chekiang Province Brass Pattern Cash, an example of the first Chinese-style specimen round-hole Cash, similar to the contemporary Hong Kong issues, offers collectors an opportunity to own one of the most interesting pieces of Chinese currency history.
In Richard Wright’s book, The Modern Coinage of China 1866-1949, The Evidence in Western Archives, he writes: “The Imperial Chinese authorities showed little interest in the machine minting of coins until the 1880s. Therefore the fact that the Paris Mint struck a pattern Chekiang Province cash coin as early as 1866 is somewhat of an enigma, particularly as the mint officials there have no evidence or knowledge of any further French involvement with the Chinese coinage. “
The Paris Mint catalogue states that only three of the coins were struck but Wright argues that there may have been more, and the specimens could have been created solely for the purpose of an official Mandarin dignitary’s visit to Paris. It is estimated to sell for US$20,000 – 25,000. [Lot 292]
From the collection of Swedish born numismatist, Åke Linden, two very special coins are estimated to sell for US$80,000 – 100,000. The first of the two, a 1907 Kuang Hsu Ku’ping Gold Pattern 1-Tael, was created as a prototype coin in the 33rd year of the reign of the eleventh Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Kuang Hsu.
Emperor Kuang Hsu was put under house arrest after his Hundred Days' Reform, aimed at changing political, legal, and social proceedings failed in 1898. The reforms proved too sudden for the Chinese populace and conflicted with the views of Empress Dowager Tsu Hsi, Kuang Hsu’s Regent. With military support she staged a coup and Hsu stayed under house arrest until his death in November 1908, a day before the death of Tsu Hsi. [Lot 285]
The second of the two coins is an extremely rare 1907 Chihli (Peiyang) Province Silver Pattern 1-Tael, also from the 33rd year of the reign of Emperor Kuang Hsu. The coin has exceptional provenance having been bought by Linden from the collection of Dr Norman Jacobs, also sold by Baldwin’s in 2008 for a total of US$3,371,800. [Lot 309]
Elsewhere in the sale a selection of Asian banknotes includes an original stapled bundle of 100 consecutive 100-Rupee banknotes, serial nos.B19 683201-683300. Circa 1914, the notes issued by the Reserve Bank of India, Calcutta, are signed by C. D. Deshmukh and depict King George VI in profile at the right. They are estimated to sell for US$120,000 – 150,000. [Lot 187]
An extremely well preserved and very rare Vietnamese Zinc Tong Bao from the reigh of Kien Phuc (1883-84) is estimated to sell for US$13,000 – 18,000. [Lot 799]
Nguyen Gian Tong was placed on the throne at the age of fifteen on 30 November 1883, and ruled under the reign of Kien Phuc for only seven months before he was poisoned on 31 July 1884. The Kien Phuc Thong Bao is one of the major rarities from the reign title coins of the Nguyen dynasty. The specimen on offer in this sale is one of six known, once owned by Jules Silvestre, author of “Notes Pour Servir à la Recherche et au Classement des Monnaies et Médailles de l'Annam et de la Cochinchine Française”, 1883, Saigon.
The auction will be held in the Crystal Conference Centre at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Kowloon Hong Kong on Thursday 3rd April. The catalogue will be available to view online at www.baldwin.com and online biding with no additional premium is available through the services of www.the-saleroom.com.
Caroline also attached the except from Richard Wright’s book, to which they refer in the release. Thanks - here it is.
Richard Wright’s The Modern Coinage of China 1866-1949, The Evidence in Western Archives (ISBN 978 1 907427-20-6), p.168 tells the story:
China - The Machine-Minted T'ung Chih Cash Coin of 1866
The Imperial Chinese authorities showed little interest in the machine minting of coins until the 1880s. Therefore the fact that the Paris Mint struck a pattern Chekiang Province cash coin as early as 1866 is somewhat of an enigma, particularly as the mint officials there have no evidence or knowledge of any further French involvement with the Chinese coinage. The coin, which is illustrated by a tracing taken from the sample in the recently published catalogue of the collection of the Paris Mint, is described thereon as a Sapèque Chine, a round hole pattern produced by M. Barre in 1866, struck in brass, weight 1.42g and diameter 20mm. Only three pieces are known to exist. ... In the Paris Mint catalogue the dies are also shown, for some reason marked 1870, which was possibly the date of acquisition. ...
Which leaves the question: why were the dies prepared and three coins struck? Or were there more coins?
The answer probably lies with the Pin Mission, a mini-saga written up and described a couple of decades ago (Charles Drage, Servants of the Dragon Throne: being the lives of Edward and Cecil Bowra, UK, 1966: Chapter XI, 'The Mission of the Third Class Mandarin'.), but which has been seemingly ignored in a possible numismatic context. Up until the nineteenth century the Imperial Chinese government, content with its lot and deeming the remainder of the world to be barbarians, had done its best to keep the western world at arms's length. Official missions from Britain in 1793 and 1816 failed to break the ice; the Russians and the Dutch fared no better; yet trade continued and provoked the China Wars of the forties and fifties which effectively opened up China to trade on western terms. It was not until 1876 that the first Chinese legation was established in London, and a further twenty years before a major Chinese statesman, Li Hung-chang, made an official tour of Europe and the United States, incidentally generating some interesting numismatic and medallic items.
Prior to 1876 any visits by Chinese officials or mandarins to the western world were limited and low key. Language was a problem. The enigmatic Hesing, a mandarin of the fifth class, is a case in point. In his forties and a native of Canton, he made the passage from China in the Keying apparently in the role of a tourist. He spoke little English, but succeeded in joining the official procession marking the opening of the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, and is still remembered today by his portrait on one of the Keying medallions. It was Mr (later Sir) Robert Hart, the Inspector-General of the Chinese Customs, who in 1866 prompted the first semi-official visit of a mandarin to Europe. He was returning to his native Ireland on leave, was concerned that the Chinese government had been doing nothing to bring itself up to date with the western world, and proposed that a mandarin should accompany him to Europe and report all he saw.
Hart's proposal was adopted, but he was only partially successful as the mandarin selected for the task, Pin Ch`un or Pin-tu-jen, the Chinese Secretary of the Imperial Maritime Customs, was of low rang (albeit hastily promoted up to the third grade), elderly, bigoted, and, even worse, was given no official status. However, Pin was accompanied by his son and three language students, and it was probably the young generation, from their experience who provided the greatest benefit to China in the long run. Pin was ably escorted by Edward Bowra and M. de Longchamps; the party landed in Marseilles, and thereafter these mentors arranged the intensive programmes of tours of factories and institutes; only to discover in Paris that their mandarin had quickly developed a preferance for the theatre and the circus. Thus it was that Pin Ch‘un declared himself indisposed on 12th May 1866, and refused to carry out the plan for that day - although his entourage did - which included visits to the Library, the Post Office, the Telegraph Office and the Paris mint.
Now, this projected visit does provide a very good reason for the existence of the machine minted Chekiang province cash coin in the Paris Mint in 1866: eg. it was only a specimen coin, produced solely for the mandarin's visit. Why would Chekiang have been selected for this example? It is pure conjecture, but the mandarin may have been a native of that province, and M. de Longchamps could have conveyed that information to the Mint when making arrangements for the visit. It is possible, of course, that a few specimens were handed out to the entourage, and may have found their way back to China.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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