HONG KONG, China – A circa 1900 Chinese, Chefoo Bank $2 issued private banknote sold for $8,430 at an auction held May 24th by Archives International Auctions, based in Fort Lee, N. J. Headlining the auction were the Alexander I. Pogrebetsky Family Archives (158 lots), followed by 353 lots of Chinese and Asian banknotes, scripophlily (stock and bond certificates) and coins.
It was the fifth auction held in Hong Kong since 2013 by Archives International Auctions, which also holds regular sales in its offices located at 1580 Lemoine Ave., in Fort Lee, N.J. The Chefoo Bank note was the top lot in an auction that grossed $270,450. The close runner-up was a 1910 Russo-Asiatic Bank ‘Harbin Branch’ provisional issue $100 banknote that hammered for $6,896.
The Alexander I. Pogrebetsky Family Archives (Part 1) consisted mostly of Chinese and Asian banknotes, including many extremely scarce examples that rarely come up for bid at auction. The collection has remained untouched since it was put together by Mr. Pogrebetsky between 1916 and 1949, before he immigrated to Israel, and was then kept by his family, intact, over 60 years.
Pogrebetsky, an economist by training, was Minister of Finance in Siberia before the Communist takeover in 1922. He relocated to China and became head of the board of the railroad that ran from Harbin to Vladivostock. After that, he co-owned a private bank in Tientsin before moving to Shanghai. In 1924, while in Harbin, he wrote one of the first reference books on Chinese banknotes and coins by a Westerner.
“Our fifth Hong Kong auction was filled with non-stop, exciting bidding action between floor, internet and telephone bidders pursuing the Pogrebetsky Collection as well as other rarities offered in the sale,” said Dr. Robert Schwartz, the president of Archives International Auctions. “As with our previous auctions, desirable material was in high demand and the exceptional prices only reinforced this point.”
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include an 18 percent buyer’s premium and are listed in U.S. dollars.
The auction began with the 158 lots from the Pogrebetsky Family Archives. Highlights included an Imperial Bank of China, 1898 Peking branch 10 Taels note ($4,904); a Bank of China, 1917 ‘Kalgan’ branch issue ($2,146); a rare 1921 issue, National Bank of China ($5,210); a Bank of Territorial Development, 1915 ‘Urga’ issue $1 rarity ($3,371); and a superb pair of Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China, $10 1928 ‘Tientsin’ issues ($4,904 and $5,210, respectively).
Also sold was a rare Chinese-American Bank of Commerce $10 ‘Shanghai’ issue specimen note ($2,298); and an Amoor Government Bank, 1917 issue rarity ($2,452); Private banks and local issues, all pulled from circulation by Mr. Pogrebetsky between 1910 and 1949, were a hit with bidders. Top lots included a Chiu Dah Bank, circa 1920s Shanghai issue private bank ($1,992).
Chinese and Asian scripophily also proved to be popular with collectors, as 95 percent of all lots changed hands, often for prices that were well above their high estimates. Highlights included a Chinese Imperial Government 1910, 5%, 100 Pound lot of 6 bonds that hammered for $843; and a Chinese Government 5%, Gold Loan of 1912, 100 Pounds bond quartet that gaveled for $690.
Pioneer polymer banknote trials printed on “DuraNote” banknote paper (developed by a division of Mobil Oil in the 1980s/1990s as a petroleum-based replacement for paper) featured a DuraNote advertising banknote calendar ($689); a group of five different DuraNote advertising specimens with different security features ($582); and one lot consisting of seven different DuraNote specimens ($689).
Chinese and Asian banknotes continued to do very well, with over 76 percent of all lots selling. Stars included an 1899, Imperial Chinese Railways, ‘Shanghai’ Branch issue specimen ($1,686); a Commercial Bank of China, 1920, 1 Tael specimen banknote ($1,839); and an issued Bank of Communications, 1920 ‘Harbin’ issue rarity that hammered for a possible record price $1,303.
An Industrial Development Bank of China, 1921, 50 Yuan specimen hit $1,686; and a Military Exchange Bureau, 1927 1 Yuan sold for $1,686. Taiwan was represented by a number of group lots, with 17 of the 19 lots selling. Highlights included a number of Bank of Taiwan, 1950-1951 “Kinmen (Quemoy)” issue sequential pairs or trios selling for prices ranging from $459 to $766.
Foreign Banks of China were represented by a number of rare notes, including a 1919 American-Oriental Banking Corporation, $100 ‘Shanghai Branch’ issue specimen ($4,291); Asia Banking Corporation specimen banknotes for both the Hankow and Tientsin branch issues ($436-$1,532); and a very rare Chinese Italian Banking Corporation, 1921 1 Yuan remainder banknote ($3,372).
An issued Chinese-American Bank of Commerce, 1920 ‘Shanghai’ Branch issue fetched $2,605; an International Banking Corporation, $100, 1905 issue sold for a very strong $4,598; a National Commercial & Savings Bank, Ltd., $10, 1924 ‘Hankow’ issue banknote topped out at $3,678; and a Russo-Asiatic Bank, $100, 1910 ‘Harbin Branch’ provisional issue hammered for $6,896.
Russo-Asiatic Bank, 1917 ND Harbin issue specimens made $2,451 for the 10 Ruble specimen and $2,912 for the 100 Ruble specimen. Also sold were a Hulunpeierh Official Currency Bureau, 100 Yuan, 1919 Issue rarity ($5,517), a Provincial Treasury of Sinkiang – Official Note, (1915) 100 cash issue ($3,065); and Hong Kong issues, including two different Mercantile Bank of India, 1937 issue banknotes: the $5 hammered for $2,452 and the $10 hammered for $4,598.
Previews were held in the U.S., by appointment only, with viewing in Hong Kong at the offices of Kelleher & Rogers, Fine Asian Auctions, one of Hong Kong’s premier philatelic auction houses. Already, Archives International Auctions is in the planning stages for its sixth Hong Kong auction, slated for late fall or early winter of 2015-2016. Consignments are invited for this upcoming auction, which will include Part 2 of the Alexander I. Pogrebetsky Family Archives.
Archives International Auctions’ next big auction will be Thursday, June 25th, in the Collector’s Club, at 22 East 35th Street in New York City, featuring the Rudolph P. Laubenheimer Family Archives of rare coin, medal and token production material, plus works on paper. Also sold will be U.S. and worldwide banknotes, coins, medals, scripophily and security printing ephemera.
To pre-register for live bidding, log on to the AIA website, at www.ArchivesInternational.com.
Archives International Auctions is always looking for Chinese, U.S. and worldwide banknotes, coins, scripophily, stamps, postal history, autographs and historic ephemera and documents for future auctions, or to buy outright. To sell or consign one piece or an entire collection, you may call AIA at (201) 944-4800. Their mailing address is 1580 Lemoine Avenue, Suite #7, Fort Lee, NJ 07024 (USA). Or, you can also send them an e-mail, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Archives International Auctions and the upcoming June 25th New York auction and all upcoming fall and winter auctions, please visit www.ArchivesInternational.com.
Archives International Auctions
1580 Lemoine Avenue
Fort Lee, New Jersey
Dr. Robert Schwartz
Archives International Auctions
P: (201) 944-4800