The recent Stack’s Bowers Galleries April 2015 Hong Kong auction was a great success from coins to paper money. Included in the paper money only catalog was an important selection of high denomination notes from Hong Kong, with the most important being a Choice About Uncirculated 1935 $50 note on the Mercantile Bank of India Limited. Several other high denomination pieces from that bank and also the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation saw spirited bidding.
The Mercantile Bank of India 1935 $50 note (Lot 13221) is one of just three we have ever offered for the catalog number and is by far the finest of that trio. The large-format size note was produced by Waterlow and Sons in London and displays extraordinary color. The near Uncirculated quality allowed for all the intricacies of the design to be highlighted in marvelous detail. The last example we sold was an appealing Very Fine note of the same date that brought $10,157 as lot 52512 in our August 2013 sale. That price led to our conservative estimate of $12,500 to $17,500 for our April 2015 offering. The lot opened within our estimate but did not stay there long, running all the way to a $40,000 hammer price, ($47,800 with the 19.5% buyer’s premium).
Several other important notes of Hong Kong sold as well, with an early design Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation $500 note in specimen form selling for $26,290 against a $15,000 to $25,000 estimate. An issued $500 1959 Mercantile Bank Limited note brought just under the high estimate at $44,812. These highlight lots met and exceeded our expectations; in addition each lot of Hong Kong material regardless of estimate saw intense bidding throughout the session. This trend carries over from our August 2014 sale, confirming that banknotes of Hong Kong are certainly at the forefront of worldwide collectible currency.