Recent years have seen a massive increase in the offerings and prices realised by banknotes.
There has been quite some debate as to
where and when the first banknotes were issued. The Venetian
traveller Marco Polo mentions them in China in about the 1290s, but
it seems none as early as that have come down to us.
The invention of paper in China was a
closely guarded secret but eventually it leaked out and came to
Europe via the Silk Route; but this is a long story and is hardly
relevant to this report.
There was an early note in the Baldwin's-Ma Tak
Wo (18% buyer's premium) sale held in Hong Kong on April 4.
Lot 1 was a Ming Dynasty banknote issued
by the Emperor Hong Wu (1368-98AD). It was block printed on
Mulberry paper which is a particularly durable type of paper,
preserving its good condition. The size (221 x 338mm) was usual for
these Chinese notes.
These Hong Kong sales are conducted in US
dollars and on this lot the estimate was $8000-12,000. It realised
This sale confirmed that the market for
Asian and particularly Chinese material is strong and
strengthening. As witness, the total estimates came to $827,810 but
transformed into a total of $1.3m. (£842,000).
Dix Noonan Webb (20% buyer's premium) held a
sale of banknotes in London on April 10 which totalled £89,830,
while the highlight of Spink (20% buyer's premum three-day world
banknote bonanza from April 10-12 was, as anticipated, the 1929
Palestine £100 specimen, numbered among the greatest rarities in
Estimated at £80,000-120,000, it took
Spink also dispersed part III of the
fascinating David Kirch collection of English banknotes, in this
case covering Wales and the West Midlands, on April 18.
This constituted 800 lots of what are, in
essence, local history documents of the 19th and early 20th
Bearing in mind the emerging popularity of this collecting
field, this sale offered an excellent opportunity to dip one's toe
in the water, with examples selling for as little as £70 and rising
to £1650, paid for an extremely rare £100 note issued by the
Macclesfield & Cheshire Bank (Daintry, Ryle & Co), 27