Choice and Highly Desirable French Cochin China Piastre Essai to be featured as lot 51045 in Session B of our August Hong Kong Auction

Today’s auction preview for the upcoming Stack’s Bowers August Hong Kong Showcase Auction is a not often seen and highly desirable coin from the Southern region of Vietnam around the Mekong Delta. French Cochin China was a major French colonial holding in Southeast Asia. Along with Tonkin and Annam, French Cochin China would later be amalgamated into the greater territory of French Indo-China. Three Paris Mint chief engravers (all from the same family) collaboratively designed this iconic silver crown. It was first engraved by Albert Barre until his sudden death in 1878, and then finished by his brother Auguste Barre. The obverse design bears great similarity to the Great Seal of France as designed by their father Jean-Jacques Barre, with notable changes that reinforce its association with colonial affairs. The reasoning for basing the design on the Great Seal of France was to demonstrate French sovereignty over the region.

The obverse design features Liberty reclining facing left, with her head facing, adorned with a laurel crown with seven arches. She holds a fasces (seen as a symbol of collective power) and is resting atop a ship’s tiller. Behind the tiller appears a marine anchor, symbolizing the administration of Indo-China by the French ministry of the "Marine and Colonies." Rice stalks appear to the left of Liberty, replacing the symbol of western agriculture, wheat. In exergue, the engraver’s name (BARRE) and the date 1879 appear. The reverse design features the denomination at the center of the design: "PIASTRE DE COMMERCE" surrounded by a wreath of laurel (glory) and oak (longevity) leaves. The mintmark of Paris ("A") appears below the central inscription flanked by two engraver’s marks. Beautiful steel gray toning with multi-color hues surrounds the devices, especially the obverse. This is the second finest certified example (PCGS SP-63+) and a truly exquisite rarity worthy of inclusion in the most sophisticated of collections.

Look for these and other Asian and world numismatic rarities in our upcoming August Hong Kong Showcase Auction. Preview this lot along with the rest of our auction this August at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine, California and in our Hong Kong office. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at To schedule an appointment, please call 800.458.4646. While our Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio August Hong Kong Showcase Auction is closed for further consignments, we are currently taking consignments of Asian, world and ancient coins for our December Hong Kong Showcase Auction of Chinese and other Asian coins and currency, and our November Baltimore and New York International auctions. If you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

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