NGC Certifies Additional Rarities from the Bowker Collection

Posted on 5/27/2020

The vintage Chinese coins will be offered at a sale later this year.

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) has certified 131 additional selections from the exceptional Howard Franklin Bowker Collection of Chinese coins. The coins were submitted to NGC’s China affiliate, NGC Shanghai Business Information Consulting Co., Ltd. (NGC Shanghai), by Champion Auction, which advises the Bowker family.

Bowker was an American numismatist whose career in the US Navy brought him to Hankou in the 1920s where he developed an intense interest in Chinese coins. He assembled one of the most significant collections of Chinese coins and conducted important research into Chinese numismatics.

Over the last decade, NGC and its banknote-grading affiliate Paper Money Guaranty (PMG), have been selected to certify numerous selections from the Bowker Collection. Among these are rarities that were subsequently donated to the Shanghai Mint Museum, the Shenyang Mint Museum, the China Banknote Printing and Minting Museum, the Moritzberg Museum in Germany and the National Numismatic Collection (NNC) at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Many of the latest NGC-certified selections from the Bowker Collection will be offered in a Champion Auction sale in August. Proceeds from the sale will go to a Bowker family fund that supports numismatic research and exhibits. A previous auction of NGC-certified coins from the Bowker Collection, held in August 2016, also raised money for the Bowker family fund, which sponsored the Howard F. Bowker Research Room at the NNC among other projects and displays.

“The numismatic community is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to bid on these selections from the Bowker Collection, which will help raise money for an important cause,” said Michael Chou, CEO of Champion Auction and adviser to the Bowker family. “NGC certification will enable these coins to achieve their full potential at auction.”

Among the highlights of the latest group is a China (1909-11) Hupeh Silver Dollar graded NGC MS 65. Struck in the waning years of the Qing Empire, the coin is attributed as an L&M-187 variety with a raised swirl on the fireball. The coin radiates with fantastic cabinet toning and is tied with just one other coin as the highest graded by NGC for this variety. The coin’s inscription includes the English words HUPEH PROVINCE, an area in central China that today is known as Hubei province.

China (1909-11) Silver Dollar (L&M-187) graded NGC MS 65 and pedigreed to the Bowker Collection.
Click images to enlarge.

Another coin, also unsurpassed in the NGC Census, is a 1902 China Kiangsu Bronze 20 Cash that is graded NGC MS 65 BN. This provincial issue hails from a province just north of Shanghai today called Jiangsu but formerly rendered as Kiangsu (or, on this particular coin, KIANG-SOO).

China 1902 Kiangsu 20 Cash graded NGC MS 65 BN and pedigreed to the Bowker Collection.
Click images to enlarge.

From the Chinese Republic Era is a Year 28 (1939) China Large "Kwei" Cent that graded NGC MS 65 RD, a rare example with the RD (or red) designation from NGC. The Chinese character 桂 (kwei) on the reverse at 6 o’clock identifies this as a pattern, a coin struck with a proposed design or composition.

China (1939) Large “Kwei” Cent graded NGC MS 65 RD and pedigreed to the Bowker Collection.
Click images to enlarge.

The latest Bowker Collection selections to be certified by NGC also include several fantasy coins from the Republic Era:

  • a (1918) China Silver Dollar Feng Guo Chang Fantasy Issue graded NGC MS 62
  • a 1926-dated China Silver Dollar Imitation graded NGC AU Details
  • a 1934-dated China Silver Dollar Soviet Imitation graded NGC AU 58

China 1934-dated Silver Dollar (Soviet Fantasy) graded NGC AU 58 and pedigreed to the Bowker Collection.
Click images to enlarge.

A fantasy issue is a coin made outside of an official Chinese mint that is often imitative of a real coin type. In the first half of the 20th century, they were typically produced for foreign tourists visiting China. For example, the Soviet Fantasy Silver Dollar imitated the design of an official coin struck in a Communist-controlled area during the Chinese Civil War: the 1934 Szechuan-Shensi Silver Dollar. Like its official counterpart, the fantasy piece shows a hammer and sickle in front of a globe.

China 1918 Silver Dollar (Fen Guo Chang Fantasy Issue) graded NGC MS 62 and pedigreed to the Bowker Collection.
Click images to enlarge.

NGC’s expertise in attributing these fantasy and imitation issues, as well as other vintage Chinese coins, has brought clarity to a nuanced field that has continually grown in popularity.

“It was an honor for NGC to certify additional selections from the world-class Bowker Collection,” said NGC Chairman and Grading Finalizer Mark Salzberg. “NGC’s grading experts in China and the United States were delighted to collaborate on this project.”

NGC grades many vintage Chinese and world coins on a full-time basis at its facility in Shanghai. All coins certified by NGC are backed by a comprehensive guarantee of authenticity and grade, which gives collectors, dealers and investors greater confidence. As a result, NGC-certified coins sell for higher prices and have more liquidity.

For more information about NGC in China, visit

For more information about Champion Auction, visit

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