'A New York Gentleman's' Collection of Chopmarked Coins
As part of the Stack's Bowers & Ponterio October 2023 Hong Kong Auction, a very interesting collection of chopmarked coins was sold, covering hundreds of different coins. The provenance was rather sparse - the coins were simply 'From a New York Gentleman's Collection', but there was certainly plenty of quality on display, and something for a collector at every price point. Here are a few of the highlights from the collection:
1879-CC U.S. Morgan Dollar, Lot 34545
Morgan Dollars in general are quite scarce with chopmarks, and virtually all of the genuine examples originate from San Francisco; this is just the second piece known from Carson City. As a combination of the Old West and the China trade, this represents a unique piece of cultural crossover.
1862-M Spain Twenty Reales, Lot 34500
More Spanish coins are known with chopmarks than any other nationality, but none can be called common; most Spanish mainland coins are Portrait minors and Eight Reales. Few Spanish coins from any monarch after Ferdinand VII - under whose power Spanish global power severely declined - made their way to China.
1871-M Colombia Peso, Lot 33483
Just the second issue of any type from Colombia known with chopmarks - the nation was not known as an exporter of silver to China. A discovery piece that only came to light when the collection went to the auction block. This is the kind of coin that makes you wonder what other chopmarked types have yet to be discovered.
1846-Ca Mexico Eight Reales, Lot 46361
The Cap & Rays Eight Reales is one of the most common types to find with chopmarks, but the vast majority of the examples that you can find date to after 1850. The addition of a small paper chop - apparently commercial - is very rare. This piece was one of several in the NY Gentleman sale that could be traced back to the Hal Walls Collection, which was sold by Bosco in 1997 and is commonly considered the greatest collection of chopmarked coins ever sold at auction.
1857 U.S. Quarter Dollar, Lot 47007
The Seated Liberty Half Dollar was commonly used in the China trade before the introduction of the Trade Dollar, but smaller subsidiary coins are known in far more limited quantities. The Quarter Dollar denomination is very scarce, and seldom becomes available for sale.
1910 Mexico 'Caballito' Peso, Lot 46427
Mexico was a major provider of silver to China for centuries, but by the time of the introduction of the Caballito design in 1910 the combination of the Mexican Revolution and the decline in silver's global importance meant very few made their way to China. The type is only known in a few examples, and represents a major key to anyone looking to put together a set of chopmarked Mexican crown.
Hopefully more information will come to light about this collection in the future; this was one of the largest and most impressive single sales of chopmarked material to come to auction in the past 20 years.