Collectors from all over the world descended on New York City on January 2 and 3 to take part in Heritage Auctions
’ Signature® World & Ancient Coins Auction at the Waldorf-Astoria, coinciding with the New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC), where a deep lineup of stunning and rare coins realized more than $9.28 million in total, including 15% Buyer’s Premium.
“What the overall results of this auction show is the continued steady strength in the World and Ancient Coin market,” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage. “Chinese coins continue to perform phenomenally at auction with South American rarities bringing strong prices as well. We also saw a definite uptick in interest in ancient coins in this auction, likely due to Heritage’s redoubled focus on this area.”
The top lot in the auction was the massive 10kg (22 pounds) Beijing Olympics gold 100000 Yuan 2008, Gem Proof. The coin, struck to commemorate the first Olympic Games in China, the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing, brought $575,000 from a savvy advanced collector.
“The Beijing Olympic 100000 Yuan is one of the world's largest issued gold coins with 10 kilograms of pure 24K gold,” said Bierrenbach, “that's 321.17 ounces. Out of the only 29 pieces minted, seven were for export out of China and this piece, number 21, was the only one officially allocated to the US market in 2008.”
Two important South American coins competed for collector attention on their way to realizing the same price of $103,500. The first, an extremely rare early Brazilian gold coin, a Pedro Regent Prince 4400 Reis c/s over Portuguese 4 Cruzados AU50 NGC, is a truly amazing early “counterstamped” issue that is just one of a handful know, and the first of its kind to come up for auction in the United States. The second was a splendid gold "Sunface" Provincias de Rio de la Plata 8 Escudos 1813J, one of the greatest South American rarities, Argentina's first independent gold issue and certainly one of the most beautiful coins ever minted.
High quality Russian coins are always highly sought-after and a Choice Uncirculated Peter I Rouble 1720, MS64 NGC did not disappoint as it rose amidst steady budding to finish the auction at $57,500. A Vittorio Emanuele III gold 100 Lire 1937R, MS65 NGC, one of only 249 such coins minted following the Italian conquest of Ethiopia, depicting a Roman carrying the fasces symbolic of the Italian government, realized $48,875. With the issue of this coin, Vittorio Emanule III added the title of Emperor to his stature as King.
A trio of ancient coins captured serious collector attention as they all seriously exceeded pre-auction estimates: a Gela. Ca. 415-405 BC. AR tetradrachm (17.22 gm), among the finest known examples of this unique reverse type ancient coin, represented by only a single die, a Ptolemy VI-Ptolemy VIII (145-116 BC). AV mnaieion or oktadrachm (27.75 gm), a virtually perfect specimen, and a Carthage, Time of Hannibal Barca (ca. 221-201 BC). AR shekel (6.07 gm), Second Punic War issue, Carthage or uncertain mint in Sicily, ca. 213-210 BC, one of perhaps five or fewer in existence, all realized $46,000.
Adding credence to the ever-strengthening Chinese coin market was the very interesting sale of a 1914 Chinese Republic Silver Dollar, KM-Y322, L&M-858, MS66 PCGS, a coin that came in with an estimate of $4,000+ and ended up selling to a determined bidder for $23,500.
“This is a coin that, five years ago, was selling for $1,500 and up,” said Bierrenbach. “The fact that it went for almost six times pre-auction estimates sends a very clear signal that Chinese coins are very strong in the market right now.”
Rounding out the top offerings of the auction were an Empress Zauditu silver Pattern Birr EE1917 (1925), the last Ethiopian emperor or empress before the controversial and famous Ras Tafari, who later became Emperor Haile Selassie, brought $43,125, while an exceedingly rare Peru cob gold 8 Escudos 1714, of Jamaican origin, realized $40,250. This coin is one of only two known.