(Part of the information presented in this article was extracted from a handbook entitled "Regal Coinage of Hong Kong" published by Hong Kong Museum of History. This handbook was first prepared in 1966 by Mr. Ray Hamson, and revised in 1975.)
RARITY AND AVAILABILITY
When it is considered that a basic type set of Hong Kong (one coin of each type and reign) consists of only thirty coins, it is perhaps surprising to find that amongst territories with a similar range and span of coin issues the set of Hong Kong is undoubtedly one of the hardest to complete. This is mainly due to the extreme difficulty of acquiring 4he one cent of George VI which is one of the rarest, if not the rarest, "type" coin in the modern Colonial and Common-wealth series. Several other coins, such as the Victoria dollar and half-dollar, and the twenty cent of Edward VII will also present difficulties to any collector embarking on this series.
To complete a date set (one coin of each type and each date issued) of the Colony's coins is virtually impossible, and it is doubtful if a complete one exists anywhere, either in a public or a private collection. In the opinion of the writer the ten coins listed below are the ones most likely to prove a stumbling block to the ambitions of any would-be collectors of a complete date series. Generally speaking, all half-dollar coins tend to be scarce-particularly in grades above very fine. This is true of all silver issues minted prior to 1885; whilst all silver coins of the 1870's (except 1876), and the ten cents of 1863 to 1865, can be considered to be very scarce in any condition.
The rare and exceedingly rare coins are listed below :-
(1) George VI five cents 1941-H
(2) George VI five cents 1941-KN
Due to the war with Japan these two coins were never apparently shipped to Hong Kong for issuing. Apart from those in major museum collections, more than hundred specimens of (2) and less than twenty of (1) have been discovered in Hong Kong.
(3) Victoria one mil 1864
(4) Victoria ten cents 1864
Both these coins are exceedingly rare and were never apparently issued in the Colony. Although the published mintage figure for both coins is large, it is the consensus of opinion that they refer to part of an incomplete order for 1863. Probably a few pieces were struck from dies prepared for 1864, but official reports show that no HongKong coins were ordered for that year.
(5) George VI one cent 1941
Two separate consignments of these coins left the United Kingdom by ship towards the end of 1941. One shipment is reported to have been recalled en route, whilst the fate of the other is not known. Recently, however, a few of these coins have come to light from Japanese sources, so that it now seems reasonable to assume that the second consignment fell into the hands of the Japanese, who, following their practice at that time, melted the coins down for war purposes. Fortunately for collectors, a few of them apparently escaped that fate, and during the past years about a few tenths specimens have come to light.
(6) Edward VII ten cents 1905
Despite the fact that the published mintage figures for this issue exceed thirty three million, this date was apparently never circulated in the Colony. This conjecture is born out by the fact that the few specimens which have appeared on the market over the past ten years have all been offered in countries outside Hong Kong, and all showed little or no sign of ever having been in circulation. The writer has heard of only one specimen being found in Hong Kong, but unfortunately its existence and origin have not been verified.
(7) Victoria twenty cents 1879
With a mintage of only twenty four thousand this is undoubtedly the 'key' date in the twenty cent series. Up to the present time only specimens in worn condition have been found in local collections.
(8) Victoria half-dollar 1867
The combined mintage for the half-dollars of 1866/67 is given as less than sixty thousand. From the numbers apparently extant today it is estimated that the ratio of these bearing the date 1867 was probably not more than one in twenty-five, and possibly considerably less.
(9) Edward VII twenty cents 1905
Up to forty years ago, this date was virtually unknown amongst collectors in the Colony but since that time, and with increasing interest now being shown in numismatics by more and more people, a few tenths specimens have come to light. Despite the fact that according to mintage figures this date should be about three times as common as either 1902 or 1904, this is not so, and only around twenty coins of 1905 have been located. This leads one to the con-clusion that these coins were for some reason only issued in very small quantities. The marked rarity of the ten cent coin of this date lends support to this theory.
(10) Victoria twenty cents 1881
Although the twenty cent coins of 1880 and 1881 were ap-parently struck in equal quantities (twenty five thousand), that of 1881 is much the scarcer of the two. There is no obvious reason for this, but the example points to the fallibility of placing too much trust in published figures, when attempting to evaluate rarity.
As many of the Varieties listed in this book are previously unpublished, and information about the numbers available therefore scanty, no attempt can yet be made to evaluate their true rarity.
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