The Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio April Hong Kong Auction to Feature an Outstanding Array of Samurai-Era Gold Plate Money from Feudal Japan

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / March 22, 2021

Costa Mesa, CA (March 22, 2021) – Within the incredible Pinnacle Collection, a featured cabinet in the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio April 2021 Hong Kong auction, a group of massive gold Obans and Kobans certainly stands out. Quite large in size, these fit within the aspect of "odd and curious" money, as they are such a departure from the typically encountered types of coinage. A variety of stampings is present on the obverse and reverse of each, indicating the type and time period of manufacture. Additionally, the obverses display rather skillfully and elegantly inked calligraphy—enhancing their beauty, artistry, and sense of uniqueness. These issues served as large multiples of the more transactional denominations like the Shu and Bu, also somewhat odd and curious in that they were rectangular rather than round, but at least their overall dimensions were more typical. These interesting pieces also serve as a direct link to the fabled pre-Meiji era of Japan, dominated by feudalism and the legendary backdrop of samurai and ninjas. With the opening up of Japan to the west, a currency reform took place under the Meiji Emperor in 1870, replacing the fanciful denominations of yore with a system and designs that mirrored those of the western world.

When viewing this exceptional offering of early Japanese coinage one is transported back in time. The number of examples found in the Pinnacle Collection could easily lead one to erroneously conclude that they are encountered quite often in the marketplace. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as these large gold denominations are extremely rare. The completeness of the types represented in the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio April auction rivals – and even surpasses – the most prestigious of museums. Beginning with the Hishi Oban, the first Oban of Japan, the immense rarity is clear, as it stands as one of just a few, possibly six, examples known. Many of these examples are held in museum collections and thus unobtainable to collectors. Meanwhile, another specimen, this time from the Genroku Era (ca. 1695-1704), stands apart due to its stunning beauty. Featuring nearly-choice quality and a rather dazzling iridescent tone, this piece offers exceptional eye appeal. A scarce Goto signature variety from the Kyoho Era (ca. 1725-1837) focuses on the inking, and exhibits stunning boldness with ink that is quite sharp and decisive, with the signature running over the edge at the base of the obverse. This outstanding subset of the Pinnacle Collection is sure to generate a great deal of enthusiasm among advanced collectors, allowing many the chance of a lifetime, whether it is the opportunity to acquire generational rarities or to simply view that which is normally relegated to the museum or the occasional catalog page.

For more information on the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio April 2021 Hong Kong Auction or the Pinnacle Collection, visit the firm’s website at, call 800-458-4646, or email [email protected].


About Stack’s Bowers Galleries

Stack’s Bowers Galleries conducts live, Internet and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The company’s 85-year legacy includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable United States coin and currency collections to ever cross an auction block — The D. Brent Pogue Collection, The John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, The Joel R. Anderson Collection, The Norweb Collection, The Cardinal Collection and The Battle Born Collection — to name just a few. World coin and currency collections include The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins, The Kroisos Collection, The Alicia and Sidney Belzberg Collection, The Wa She Wong Collection, The Guia Collection, The Thos. H. Law Collection, and The Robert O. Ebert Collection.

Topping off this amazing numismatic history is the inclusion of the world record for the highest price ever realized at auction for a rare coin, the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar graded Specimen-66 (PCGS) that realized over $10 million, part of their sale of the famed Cardinal Collection. The company is headquartered in Santa Ana, California, with offices in New York, Wolfeboro, Hong Kong, and Paris. Stack’s Bowers Galleries is an Official Auctioneer for several important numismatic conventions, including American Numismatic Association events, the New York International Numismatic Convention, the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring, Summer and Winter Expos, and its April and August Hong Kong Auctions.

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