Korean Chatelain

The Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio August Hong Kong Auction is sure to draw enormous crowds and attention as it will feature the impressive Edgar J. Mandel Collection of Korean charms and amulets. Edgar Mandel was a pioneer in Far Eastern numismatics and his devotion went beyond the realm of hobby. Mandel diligently researched and compiled his information into new publications that serve today as the base for any serious research into these items.

The upcoming auction will feature a large portion of Korean charms and amulets from the Mandel Collection, which will surely become a renowned pedigree. Some of the larger pieces from this collection will be featured here in the coming weeks, including this enticing “Chatelain.” These items are believed to be gifts to brides on their wedding day, and comprise a multitude of charms, amulets, and coins to offer protection and good luck. These traditional pieces may have been worn at the waist during the ceremony. After the wedding they were displayed in the woman’s portion of the house to extend the protection and luck. These items were a visual indicator of the wealth and prestige of a family as well — the larger the central piece and the number of charms and amulets attached directly indicated the stature of the family. Most of these items were created in the 1800s (including this particular piece) and very few have survived intact to the present day. The cloth is prone to rip and tear easily after decades, and they are occasionally dismembered and sold piecemeal.

This particular Chatelain is an Octagonal Openwork type, with the main piece containing an ornate knotted tree design with nine charms arranged in groups of three along the left and right sides and in the upper portion, underneath a “Double Happiness” compound character. A decorated frame surrounds the design, and attached to the top there are two additional charms at either side of an ornamental top loop. Beautiful deep red rope tied in an intricate knot is attached at the pinnacle and may be seen as a metaphor for the union of the bride and groom. This octagonal piece serves as the focal point for the rest of the Chatelain, which contains 12 colorful streams of cloth with a multitude of charms, seed coins, and regular coins woven into each of the 12 stands. The cloth has retained its vibrant hues, predominantly red but also some yellow, cream, and teal colored strands. The smaller pieces attached include a total of 11 charms, 36 “seed coins” (the specially prepared examples which are then used to create molds for the regular issue coinage), and 68 regular issue coins. A number of the coins and charms contain a remnant of colored pigments, which enhances the already vibrant nature of this piece. Overall this piece is attractive and original and, along with the entire Mandel Collection, is certainly expected to attract attention in August.

Look for this and other Asian numismatic rarities from the Edgar Mandel Collection in our upcoming August Hong Kong Sale. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this August at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine, California. For details please refer to the Auction Schedule/Details link under Current Auctions at To schedule an appointment, please call 800.566.2580.

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