New York - The Coins, Medals and Banknotes Department at Bonhams is pleased to announce the sale of one of the finest known examples of the extremely rare (1906) Korea 20 Won gold coin on December 13 in New York. This specimen traces its lineage as follows: Lipno Collection, November 1961; Louis Eliasberg Collection, April 2005; a general coin auction, March 2006; and the Vermuele, Ward, and Mexico Maxico Sale, January 2010, as lot 1575 where it sold for $155,250.
The present piece, graded MS64 NGC, appears to rank among the highest of all surviving examples, richly lustrous with fully struck surfaces and devices. A light amount of natural, original golden-peach patina.
Gold coins of 20, 10 and 5 Won appeared just as Korea's independence was being extinguished. These were the only gold issues struck by the country prior to annexation. The vast majority of each denomination was retained as backing for gold notes, and nearly all of these reserve specimens were melted after Korea was annexed to Japan in 1910. A very tiny number escaped, thanks to determined numismatists such as H.A. Ramsden of the pioneer Japanese numismatic firm of Jun Kobayagawa, who rescued a handful of 5 Won pieces. Reportedly 2,506 of the 20 Won were struck in 1906, but the number now extant is minuscule with only a few pieces known in any grade.
Struck in Osaka, Japan, the obverse features a curled dragon depicted in a beaded circle which clutches the Pearl of Celestial Wisdom. The surrounding legend states the national name (Dae Han), Regnal date, and denomination in the Korean phonetic alphabet. On the reverse, the vertically placed denomination is under a Korean plum flower crest within a rose and plum wreath.
Auction history finds two Extremely Fine (circulated) examples have been offered in recent years; one in 1982 which brought $25,000 and the other in December 1996 which realised $34,000.
The illustrated auction catalogue for the December 2012 sale will be available online for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale at www.bonhams.com/us. For more information about the department, please visit www.bonhams.com/uscoins.
London Preview: September 28-29 at Coinex
New York Preview: December 11-13
Auction: December 13, New York
NOTES FOR EDITORS
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