Chinese Coins Celebrating Invention of Seismograph and Compass Shake Up Heritage’s HKINF World & Ancient Coins Auction June 19-21

Vertical dollar and Singapore 10,000 among top attractions in June 18-21 World Paper Money event that includes notes from more than 60 countries

DALLAS, Texas (May 30, 2024) — A gold Chinese coin celebrating one of the most significant inventions in the study of natural history could send shockwaves through Heritage’s HKINF World & Ancient Coins Platinum Session and Signature® Auction – Hong Kong June 19-21.

People’s Republic gold Proof “Seismography” 2000 Yuan (1 Kilo) 1992 PR68 Ultra Cameo NGC, from the Shenyang Mint, is from the Scientific Inventions and Discoveries of Ancient China Series. The certificate indicates that it hails from a tiny mintage of just 10 pieces, although Chan suggests the mintage actually included 16; a record has been found of just one other example being offered at public auction, in 2003.

It was issued in recognition of the seismoscope, one of the earliest known instruments for detecting earthquakes.

“Attempts to accurately record seismic events go back centuries,” says Cris Bierrenbach, Executive Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage Auctions. “One of the earliest seismoscopes was invented in 132 AD by Zhang Heng, a Chinese philosopher, astronomer, mathematician, engineer and inventor who served in the imperial court of the Han dynasty. His device, the ‘earthquake weathervane,’ was remarkably sophisticated for the time, and was reported to have successfully detected an earthquake in 134 AD that occurred about 400 miles away in what is now the modern province of Gansu. But the original designs and more detailed descriptions of the seismoscope were lost over time, and no replicas have survived. His invention represents one of the earliest endeavors to create a scientific instrument for detecting earthquakes, and is rightfully celebrated on this beautiful and exceedingly rare coin.”

Another low-mintage “Inventions and Discoveries” gold kilo that will find a new home when it


is sold in this auction is a People’s Republic gold Proof “Compass” 2000 Yuan (1 Kilo) 1992 PR69 Ultra Cameo NGC that comes from a mintage of just 10. This beauty celebrates the invention of the compass during the Han Dynasty around the second century BC. Of the three examples certified by NGC at this top-of-the-population grade, the one offered here exhibits the highest technical quality.

From a mintage of just 20 comes a People’s Republic gold Proof “Completion of Lunar Cycle” 2000 Yuan (Kilo) 1992 PR69 Ultra Cameo NGC that was struck in commemoration of the completion of one full lunar cycle since the start of the Lunar Series, the popular collector’s program that began in 1981 with the “Year of the Rooster” issues. Of the 20 extant, only 11 have been certified, with the offered example tied for the highest grade available.

Another highlight in the auction is a Republic Tsao Kun gold Dollar ND (1923) MS62 NGC, a Dollar-size gold issue requisitioned by the President of the Republic of China, Tsao Kun, upon the promulgation of the new Constitution by the Peking Senate in 1923. It portrays the warlord and politician in military uniform, and represents the first time Heritage has brought this Chinese rarity to auction in nearly a decade.

Republic Sun Yat-sen Specimen Pattern 1/2 Dollar (50 Cents) Year 25 (1936) SP63 PCGS is one of the rarities from the Sun Yat-sen series, and part of a group of Patterns proposed with a smaller diameter and slightly altered Junk design from previous Sun Yat-sen issues. Whether these issues were struck at the San Francisco Mint or the Central Mint of Shanghai (Kann purporting the latter) has been the subject of some debate. What is beyond question, however, is the fact that the specimen offered in this auction carries the second-highest grade at PCGS, with none graded higher at NGC.

Among the half dozen lots in the auction from the Coenen Collection is a Qing Dynasty. temp. Qianlong gold Boat-Shaped Sycee of 10 Taels ND (c. 1750) Certified MS61 by Gong Bo Grading. It is an iconic gold ingot, seen primarily among those salvaged from the Dutch East Indiaman cargo vessel Geldermalsen by Captain Michael Hatcher in 1985, standing out through its unique shape and design that suggest its use for trade with the Dutch. Wrecked in the South China Sea on January 18, 1752, the Geldermalsen carried 147 gold bars and ingots along with a significant cargo of porcelain.

The Ten Kingdoms – Kingdom of Chu. Supreme Commander Ma Yin (907-951) Tiance Prefecture Treasure Cash ND (911) Certified 85 by Gong Bo Grading is one of 46 lots in the auction from the W&L Collection and a stunning example of this rare heavy cash emission minted to commemorate Ma Yin’s rank of Supreme Commander of Tiance, Hunan given by Emperor Ta Zu of the Liang Dynasty. Rarely does this type make appearance at public auction and when it does, it never is of such high quality.

Other top lots in the auction include, but are not limited to:

• A rare People’s Republic gold Proof “Guanyin Bodhisattva” 1500 Yuan 1993 PR69 Ultra Cameo NGC

• A Hupeh. Kuang-hsü “Small Characters” Tael Year 30 (1904) MS63 NGC

• A People’s Republic gold Proof “People’s Republic 40th Anniversary” 1500 Yuan (20 ounces) 1989 PR68 Ultra Cameo NGC

• A Hsüan-t’ung Specimen Pattern 50 Cents Year 3 (1911) UNC Details (Cleaned) PCGS

Images and information about all lots in the World & Ancient Coins auction can be found at


World Paper Money
An extraordinary array of banknotes from more than 60 countries around the globe will end up

in new collections after they cross the block in Heritage’s HKINF World Paper Money Signature® Auction – Hong Kong June 18-21.

“This is an extraordinary auction, one that boasts a wide array of countries and types,” says Dustin Johnston, Vice President of Numismatics at Heritage Auctions. “The variety in this auction is secondary to the freshness of the offerings. We are excited to present so many notes for the first time at auction … and every lot is offered without reserve.”

Among the highlights is a China Hupeh Government Mint 1 Dollar = 7 Mace 2 Candareens 1899 Pick S2135 S/M#H175-20 PMG Choice Extremely Fine 45 that is popular with collectors as it is grand in both physical size and aesthetic appeal. Part of the lone issue by the Hupeh Government Mint, this note originally could be exchanged for a crown-sized silver dollar, leading to most being redeemed long ago. This example has a vibrance that belies its age, and is the second-finest, and one of the few original pieces, of just 36 examples graded in the PMG Population Report.

A beautiful and exotic China Deutsch-Asiatische Bank, Peking 100 Dollars 1.7.1914 Pick S277r S/M#T101-24 Remainder PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 is so rare — at the time of cataloging, PMG has graded just 13 of these Peking Remainders — that they are coveted by collectors worldwide. Of the notes issued by the German-Asian Bank in China and its colony in Kiau Chau from 1907 until the end of World War I, two series, denominated in Dollars and Taels, were issued featuring either the 1907 or 1914 date. Notes from this issuer shared a common design across all branch cities: Shanghai, Peking, Tsingtau, Hankow and Tientsin. This denomination is only known in Remainder and possibly Specimen form.

China People’s Bank of China 500 Yuan 1949 Pick 843a S/M#C282-55 PMG Superb Gem Unc 67 EPQ is an extraordinary issue that is tied for the highest graded in the PMG Population Report. The front features a steam shovel vignette, while the reverse showcases guilloche designs.

Singapore Board of Commissioners of Currency 10,000 Dollars ND (1973) Pick 8A PMG Extremely Fine 40 is a rare high-denomination note from the Flower Series, one of fewer than 100 graded in the PMG Population Report. Although still accepted as legal tender, the Monetary Authority of Singapore stopped producing this denomination in 2014. This coveted note rarely makes it to the auction block, and is being offered at Heritage for the first time.

Malaya and British Borneo Board of Commissioners of Currency 10,000 Dollars ND (1953) Pick 7cts Color Trial Specimen PMG Choice About Unc 58 EPQ is a magnificent example with the desired EPQ status of the highest-denomination note featuring the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. This note generally was not a note that went into circulation; instead, it was used to settle large transactions within the banking industry, meaning that only Specimen and Color Trials, like the offered example, are known to exist.

Hong Kong Government of Hong Kong 1 Dollar on 5 Yuan 1941 Pick 317 KNB6 PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ is the single finest-graded Hong Kong $1 overprint from World War II in the PMG Population Report. Merging top quality and unquestioned rarity, this note was issued in World War II-era Hong Kong and somehow escaped circulation, allowing it to retain complete originality and pristine paper after more than six decades.

An India Government of India, Calcutta 2 Rupees, 8 Annas ND (1917) Pick 2 Jhunjhunwalla-Razack 3.3.1A-G PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 features an outstanding grade on a note with an uncommon denomination. The 2 Rupees 8 Annas is a seldom-seen middle denomination in the government’s series of notes; this type may have been issued to bridge the gap between small denominations, or to give the public a new note to use as silver was being hoarded during the first World War. The note was issued across major cities, which are identified by the prefix letter; this Calcutta issue is original and saved in Uncirculated, helping it become one of the most famous of all Indian paper notes.

Other top highlights include, but are not limited to:

• A Japan Bank of Japan 200 Yen ND (1945) Pick 44a Pack of 100 Notes Crisp Uncirculated

• A Singapore Board of Commissioners of Currency 1 Dollar ND (1976) Pick 9r TAN#B-1 Uncut Sheet of 10 Remainders PMG About Uncirculated 50

• A Macau Banco Nacional Ultramarino 100 Patacas 22.7.1919 Pick 9 PMG Very Fine 30

• A Thailand Royal Siamese Treasury 1 Att = 1/64 Tical ND (1874) Pick A23 PCGS Gold Shield Extremely Fine 40 Details

Images and information about all lots in the World Paper Money auction can be found at