NGC-certified 1897 Szechuan Ferracute Pattern Set Realizes $1,020,000 at Auction

Posted on 12/6/2019

The renowned specimen set is one of the rarest and most desirable Chinese numismatic items.

An 1897 Szechuan Ferracute Pattern Set certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) realized $1,020,000 at auction, an impressive figure that reflects the set’s extreme rarity and numismatic importance.

The 10 silver and brass coins in the set were sold as a single lot in the Heritage Auctions Hong Kong International Numismatic Fair (HKINF) World and Ancient Coins Signature Auction, which concluded December 6, 2019.

The 1897 Szechuan Ferracute Pattern Set includes 10 silver and brass coins with grades ranging from NGC SP 63 to SP 66.
Click image to enlarge.

Only three complete 1897 Szechuan Ferracute Pattern Sets are known to exist. They were made in New Jersey by the Ferracute Machine Company during a presentation of its new coining presses for the Chengtu Mint in Szechuan Province.

A very limited number of the patterns were produced at this demonstration. (A pattern is a proposed coin design or composition.) The equipment was shipped to China the very next day, but the dies sustained significant damage on the journey and had to be re-created.

Thus, the small sample of pattern coins, placed in round wooden cases for display, became the only examples struck from the original American dies.

The set was submitted to NGC for certification in 2017 by Clark Smith, a respected world coin dealer. The 10 coins were still in their original case, where they had been for more than 100 years. The case had protected the coins, but they were glued inside.

The set in its original wooden case.
Click image to enlarge.

Numismatic Conservation Services™ (NCS®), an independent affiliate of NGC that specializes in coin conservation, expertly removed the glue and fibers while preserving the coins’ attractive original patina.

The reverse of the Silver 5 Cents before conservation by NCS (left) and after the glue and fibers were removed (right).
Click images to enlarge.

After conservation, the coins were authenticated, graded and encapsulated in NGC’s secure protective holders. The individual coins in the 1897 Szechuan Ferracute Pattern set are:

  • A Silver Pattern Dollar graded NGC SP 65
  • A Silver Pattern 50 Cents graded NGC SP 63
  • A Silver Pattern 20 Cents graded NGC SP 65
  • A Silver Pattern 10 Cents graded NGC SP 65
  • A Silver Pattern 5 Cents graded NGC SP 65
  • A Brass Pattern Dollar graded NGC SP 63
  • A Brass Pattern 50 Cents graded NGC SP 64+
  • A Brass Pattern 20 Cents graded NGC SP 66
  • A Brass Pattern 10 Cents graded NGC SP 65
  • A Brass Pattern 5 Cents graded NGC SP 65

“Seeing this set soar to over $1 million at auction was truly exciting,” said Smith, the consignor of the set to Heritage Auctions. “The expert services of NGC and NCS undoubtedly helped to maximize the value of these extraordinary coins.”

“The Szechuan Ferracute Pattern Set was undoubtedly the centerpiece of our HKINF auction,” said Cris Bierrenbach, Heritage Auctions Executive Vice President. “Our bidders have great confidence in NGC-certified coins, a fact that is reflected by the more than $1 million paid for this set.”

Mark Salzberg, NGC Chairman and Grading Finalizer, added: “We are honored to have been selected to conserve and grade this incredible set. These coins tell a remarkable story and preserving their legacy is both our privilege and our responsibility.”

To learn more about the set’s amazing history and provenance as well as view a gallery of the coins, visit NGCcoin.com/gallery/Ferracute.

To learn more about Heritage Auctions, visit HA.com.


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