PMG Certifies Earliest-Known Fully Issued Hong Kong Banknote Offered in August Auction

Posted on 8/12/2021

The newly discovered historic note is the centerpiece of a Dix Noonan Webb sale.

Paper Money Guaranty® (PMG®) has certified the earliest known fully issued banknote of Hong Kong. This exceptional numismatic discovery is being offered in a sale presented by Dix Noonan Webb on August 26, 2021.

Graded PMG 12 Fine, the Hong Kong, Oriental Bank Corp. June 1, 1860 5 Dollars helps shed light on the history of Hong Kong notes. Dix Noonan Webb, a respected London-based auction house, estimates the note (lot 503) at £30,000 to £50,000 (about $42,000 to $70,000 USD).

Hong Kong, Oriental Bank Corp. June 1, 1860 5 Dollars graded PMG 12 Fine
Click images to enlarge.

Today, the Chinese city of Hong Kong is an economic powerhouse with a population of over 7 million, but in the early 1860s, it was a young British colony with a population of only about 100,000. The Oriental Bank Corporation was a global banking power at the time and it was, until 1858, the only bank to issue notes in rapidly growing Hong Kong.

The note’s condition, including its faded ink, made it difficult to determine the date written by hand at the right side of the front of the note. Dix Noonan Webb submitted the note to PMG, whose expert team used specialized equipment to evaluate and certify the note, including the conclusion that the handwritten date is June 1, 1860. This makes it the earliest-known fully issued banknote to have survived from Hong Kong's formative years.

Close-up of date under special lighting and enhanced with imaging software.
Click image to enlarge.

Proofs and specimens do exist from this period, but it was unclear which of them the Oriental Bank Corporation was actually issuing. The next-oldest fully issued banknote from this bank is from 1866.

To view a video about this note, click the play button below or click here.

Dozens of other PMG-certified rarities are also featured in the Dix Noonan Webb sale, including these highlights:

  • a Lebanon 1925 25 Livres Specimen graded PMG 55 About Uncirculated (lot 560) with an estimate of £7,500 to £10,000 (about $10,400 to $13,900 USD)
  • an India - Princely States / Hyderabad graded PMG 64 Choice Uncirculated (lot 507) with an estimate of £4,400 to £5,000 (about $6,100 to $7,000 USD)
  • a group of eight Oman, Central Bank 1995 Specimens graded PMG 64 Choice Uncirculated to PMG 67 Choice Uncirculated EPQ (lot 492) with an estimate of £4,400 to £5,000 (about $6,100 to $7,000 USD)

All estimates are provided by the auction house.

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