A very rare Korean Kuang Mu gold 20 Won, one-year type and possibly the finest known is expected to bring $130,000 in Heritage Auctions' World Coins & Ancient Coins Signature® Auction held in conjunction with the New York International Coin Show (NYINC) at the Waldorf Astoria, Jan. 4-5 in New York.
The Osaka mint gold coin is graded MS64 by NGC. Ex. Eliasberg Collection.
The obverse features a stylistic dragon within a dotted circle, clutching the pearl of celestial wisdom and the reverse depicts the imperial seal of Korea atop the vertical denomination, surrounded by wreaths of intertwined flowers and leaves. This specimen presents impeccably raised detail atop silky surfaces the shade of pure honey and nearly pristine fields, save for a few, unremarkable reverse ticks. An incredibly scarce, one-year type with a modest, original mintage of 2,506 pieces, of which only a fraction of that number are thought to still exist.
King Kojong assumed the title of Emperor Kuang Mu in 1897 and struggled to preserve Korea's independence during a tumultuous time in history when Korea faced successive threats by China, Russia, and Japan. Predating this was the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) when the Qing Dynasty of China and the Meiji of Japan were warring for dominance over Korea and, subsequently, East Asia. Japan prevailed and the loss had devastating consequences in China that would culminate with the Xinhai Revolution of 1911. However, Japan's position was almost immediately threatened by Russian influence which lasted until the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), at which time Japan established a direct protectorate over Korea.
During the protectorate era, the Won coins of Korea displayed the representative Japanese dragon motif and were struck in Osaka to the Japanese standard. As for the gold coins, the 5, 10, and 20 Won appeared just before Korea's independence was extinguished. Since almost all of the gold coins were melted after Korea was annexed to Japan in 1910, the exact number of surviving examples is unknown, but thought to be extremely small in number.
Also on offer is a unique 1897 Republic gold proof pattern 6 Pence of South Africa, the first time the South African gold proof has ever crossed the block at a public auction, which is highlighted by several important, private collections.
"Last year's NYINC event set a new record and we have high expectations for this year's offering," said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Executive Vice President of International Numismatics. "Several collectors have trusted us with decades of their hard work and investment and we're excited to introduce them to a new generation of collectors."
The Japanese Protectorate. Kuang Mu gold 20 Won Year 10 (1906) will be offered by Heritage Auction upcoming January 4 - 5 NYINC World Coins & Ancient Coins Signature Auction in New York City.