The sale featured 412 lots of rare Chinese and Asian banknotes, 247 of which sold for $204,774.

HONG KONG, China – An unlisted 1909 1-Yuan Empire Issue Chinese banknote soared past its pre-sale estimate of $100-$200 to garner $15,230 at an auction of rare Chinese and Asian banknotes held April 12th by Archives International Auctions, at the firm’s second Hong Kong auction, held in conjunction with Dynasty Auctions Company, Ltd., based in Hong Kong.

The top lot of the sale was this unlisted 1909 1-Yuan Empire Issue Chinese banknote ($15,230).

The top lot of the sale was this unlisted 1909 1-Yuan Empire Issue Chinese banknote ($15,230).

The banknote – in good condition, with facing dragons – had been discovered at a flea market in a small town in Colorado a few years ago and was believed to be of little value by its owner. But the attractive and enigmatic note sparked aggressive bidding between the floor and the internet, and in the end it was the undisputed highlight of a sale that saw 412 lots come under the hammer.

Of those, 257 changed hands, for a sell-through of 62.4 percent. Overall, the auction grossed $204,774. “This auction was a great success, with Chinese and Hong Kong banknote issues sought after by numerous floor, internet and absentee bidders,” said Dr. Robert Schwartz of Archives International Auctions, with offices in Fort Lee, N.J. “Many record prices were set.”

Dr. Schwartz added, “Most buyers left happy, even with the high prices realized. The most significant interest was seen with China Empire, Republic and foreign issues, as well as Hong Kong notes. Weakest were the notes from Japan and Indonesia. The record prices were achieved on issues previously overlooked or rarely seen at auction. In summary, it was a great auction.”

Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include an 18 percent buyer’s premium.

A $100 Singapore “Bird” issue specimen flew off for $1,450; a Ming Dynasty circulating note (circa 1368-1399) went to an American buyer for $14,164; and a group of Ch’ing Dynasty notes (circa 1854-1859) hammered for between $330 and $2,890 each. Of those, the strongest lot was an 1856 500 Cash note, which inspired spirited bidding before finally being snagged for $2,890.

A Bank of China 1918 “Harbin” issue for $1 (P-51Aa), never before offered at auction, rose to $1,520; a Bank of China P-unlisted 500-Yuan circulating cashier’s order (circa 1940s) gaveled for $1,070; an attractive Central Bank of China (CBC) 1935 20-cent note (P-205C) commanded $1,520; and a 1949 CBC 500,000 Gold Chin Yuan Essay specimen changed hands for $1,670.

A rare and highly graded Bank of Taiwan, Ltd. 1949 issue for 100 Yuan (P-1956, graded PMG CU), sold to an internet bidder for an impressive $11,420; a second Bank of Taiwan note, for 100 Yuan (P-1957) went to the very same bidder for $3,350; and three lots of Bank of Taiwan Essay Photo Proofs (circa 1955), from the Security Bank Note Company, brought $910-$2,130 each.

A group of banknotes from the Cuba Collection (an old-time holding of Chinese notes originating from Cuba in the 1920s), tantalized bidders with 14 choice lots, including an amazing run of Choice VF to AU condition 1905 $10 International Banking Corporation (Shanghai branch) issues. A Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corp. (Shanghai, 1923) $10 note (P-S358, Choice VF-XF) reached $3,350.

The International Banking Corporation $10 notes hammered for between $1,070 and $3,650 each. All were high dollar prices and all were records for the issue. A specimen 10-Taels 1918 Shanghai issue note from the series, in PMG Gem Unc 66 EPQ condition, soared to $3,960, a near record. The private China issues (equivalent to U.S. obsolete banknotes) did fairly well.

A Commercial Bank of Charhar (1935), a 40 Coppers issued note, coasted to $1,220; a Hupeh Government Mint 1899 issue rarity (P-S2135), with facing dragons, garnered $9,140; and Hong Kong was highlighted by a Charter Bank of India, Australia and China, 1931 $50 P-56 banknote that finished at $5,180. Also, a 1941 $10 note (P-236e) went to a determined bidder for $2,440.

Collectors who were unable to attend the auction live could bid via the company’s website, at The website also provided a link to a virtual catalog of all of the lots, as well as information on absentee bidding. Dynasty Auctions Company, Ltd., with whom AIA partnered in a previous auction, is one of Hong Kong’s premier philatelic auction houses.

Archives International Auctions is currently accepting consignments for its fall 2014 auction in Fort Lee, N.J., and in Hong Kong (again, to be held in conjunction with Dynasty Auctions Company, Ltd.). Times and dates have yet to be determined. Offered will be hundreds of examples of Chinese, U.S. and worldwide banknotes, scripophily and rare coins.

AIA is always looking for quality U.S. and worldwide banknotes, stocks, bonds, stamps, coins, autographs and postal history, from better individual items to large estate collections. To sell or consign a single item or a collection, you may write to them at 1580 Lemoine Ave., Ste. #7, Fort Lee, N.J. 07024; e-mail them at [email protected]; or call them at (201) 944-4800.

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