Over 300 anxious bidders filled the live auction floor for the highly anticipated sale of the Wa She Wong Collection of Chinese and other Asian Coins on Dec. 3-4.
The Hong Kong auction, presented by Ponterio & Associates, a division of Bowers and Merena Auctions, featured 1,107 lots with total sales reaching $10.7 million.
"A collection of Chinese coinage of this magnitude has not come to market in over 20 years and it surely did not disappoint," said Rick Ponterio, executive vice president of Bowers and Merena. "We saw such spirited bidding, the sale of the first 487 lots took an astounding 11 hours with many of the lots selling for multiple times their estimated value."
Drawing worldwide attention, the collection is a compilation of Wa She Wong’s lifelong passion for collecting which contained multiple rarities missing from major exhibits including many scarce pattern coins that were never released into general circulation.
Headlining the collection, the 1890 Kwantung Mint Specimen Set, lot 220, began with an estimated value of $300,000 and realized a staggering $718,750. The set represents a landmark in Chinese minting as the first silver coinage produced with modern machinery.
Another important coin was the extremely rare "Flying Dragon" Szechuan 30 Cash Struck in Copper, lot 311. Opening at $12,500, lively bidding quickly brought the coin to a final selling price of $460,000.
"The buyer had been searching for this rarity, one of only two known in private hands, for more than 30 years. The two other examples known to exist are housed in public museum collections," said Ponterio.
All major rarities in the collection were certified by the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation (NGC), a market leader in grading Chinese coins, and pedigreed as "Wa She Wong Collection" on individual holders.
Additional highlights of the Wa She Wong Collection include:
Lot 3, 1920 "Yuan Shi Kai" Dollar Struck in Gold, MS-64 (NGC), realized $138,000
Lot 27, 1911 "Long-Whisker" Dragon Pattern Dollar Struck in Silver, MS-65 (NGC), realized $431,250 (Ex: Kann Collection)
Lot 130, 1844 Changchow Military Rotation Dollar, AU-50 (NGC), realized $103,500
Lot 139, 1909 Honan Pattern 20 Cash Struck in Copper, AU-55 BN (NGC), realized $126,500
Lot 147, 1930 Hunan Pattern 500 Cash Struck in Copper, MS-63 BN (NGC), realized $103,500
Lot 162, 1897 Kiangnan Dollar, Plain Edge, Proof-66 Cameo (NGC), realized $373,750
Lot 172, 1899 Kiangnan 50 cents, AU Details (NGC), realized $172,500 (Ex: Kann Collection)
Lot 219, 1888 Kwantung Mint Specimen Set, Seven Three Reverse Pattern, K-16/20 (NGC), realized $546,250
Lot 234, 1898 Shensi Mint Specimen Set, K-156/159 (50¢, 20¢, 10¢, 5¢), realized $258,750
Lot 340, 1935 Shensi Soviet Dollar, Large Hammer & Sickle, XF Details (NGC), realized $92,000
Lot 475, 1921 British Trade Dollar, AU-55 (NGC), realized $43,700
In day two of the sale, Asian coins and paper money also performed very well. A standout coin in these sessions was lot 1123, a 1929 Austrian Pattern "Sun Yat Sen" Dollar, MS-61 (NGC), which realized $207,000. This rarity was discovered as part of the Richard Platch Estate, an engraver at the Vienna Mint that was responsible for several important Chinese patterns. Additional highlights from day two of the sale include:
Lot 1039, 1897 Kiangnan Dollar, Ornamental Edge, MS-62 (NGC), realized $103,500
Lot 1195, 1912 Shandong Gaobianbao 50 Tael, High-Sided Sycee Ingot, Choice Very Fine, realized $86,250
Lot 2138, Banque De L’Indo-Chine 5 Piastres Specimen, Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ (PMG), realized $57,500
Additional material from the Wa She Wong Collection will be offered at Ponterio & Associates’ next Hong Kong sale in August 2011 and the company is currently accepting consignments of Chinese and other Asian coins and paper money.
The Wa She Wong sale wraps-up an outstanding week of auctions in Hong Kong for Spectrum Group International. Spectrum Wine Auctions’ sale on Dec. 5 realized $4.4 million – the highest since the company formed a year ago, and John Bull Stamp Auctions hosted its largest sale ever Nov. 25-28 with $3.5 million in total sales.
Bowers and Merena’s next auction is the January 2011 Tampa Bay Rarities Sale which is scheduled for Jan. 4, immediately preceding the FUN Show in Florida. The sale will feature Part II of the impressive Malibu Collection. Ponterio & Associates’ next auction is the January N.Y.I.N.C. Auction scheduled for Jan. 7-8 in New York.
For a complete list of auction highlights and prices realized, visit the firm’s web site at www.bowersandmerena.com or call 800-458-4646.
About Ponterio & Associates
Ponterio & Associates, Inc., was founded in 1982 by Richard Ponterio, renowned specialist in world and ancient numismatics.
The company was acquired by Bowers and Merena Auctions in 2008, creating an auction powerhouse that covers the collecting interests of U.S. and international coin and paper money enthusiasts.
Ponterio & Associates auctions have included such notable coin collections as the John S. Davenport Collection, the Witte Museum Collection, the Amat Collection, the Joe Lasser Collection, and the James Hunnicut Collection.
Distinguished paper money collections include the East Bay Collection of International Bank Notes, and the Eduard Kann Chinese Bank Note Collection. Ponterio & Associates has also presented treasure collections from the shipwrecks "Nicobar," "Rooswijk," and "Capitana."
About Bowers and Merena Auctions
Bowers and Merena Auctions was founded in 1983 and has grown to become one of the world’s preeminent numismatic auctioneers with more than half a billion dollars in rare coin and currency sales.
The company continues its service as Official Auctioneer of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expos three times each year. Bowers and Merena has handled four of the five most valuable United States coin collections ever sold, including the Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. Collection, the Harry W. Bass Jr. Collection, the Garrett Collection for The Johns Hopkins University and the Norweb Collection.
In 2008, Bowers and Merena Auctions acquired Ponterio & Associates, Inc., which now serves as Bowers and Merena’s auction division for world and ancient coins and currency. Bowers and Merena Rare Coin Galleries offers direct buying and selling of exceptional quality gold and silver rare coins.
For more information about Bowers and Merena and Ponterio & Associates, or to consign to an upcoming auction, call 800-458-4646. For media inquiries, ask for Director of Operations, Brian Kendrella. Complete prices realized for all past auctions are available at www.bowersandmerena.com.