Author Topic: A brief look at the Hong Kong large cents  (Read 5186 times)

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Offline BobW

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A brief look at the Hong Kong large cents
« on: November 10, 2008, 09:54:02 PM »
The so-called Hong Kong large cents were made non-continuously from 1863 through 1934. These coins are sometimes collected by type. While it may be possible to assemble an uncirculated date set of these coins in brown uncirculated condition, trying to assemble a date set in red brown or red uncirculated condition may prove to be impossible. Uncirculated early dates are seldom seen for sale these days except in auction and choice coins typically sell for $500 or more.

Estimating surviving HK large cents is difficult at best and the following is based on observation and not scientific study. It is not unreasonable to attempt to establish a general estimation of survivors in high grades but certainly not in lower grades. Hopefully collectively, we can refine the estimates that appear below.

PCGS does by far the best job in keeping accurate records of the coins they grade and making those populations known to collectors through their Collectors Club. The populations published by NGC appear to have become out-of-date and hence somewhat unreliable. Of late many high grade coins have been crossed to PCGS and the NGC population figures do not reflect this change. The inaccuracy can be traced to the failure of collectors to notify NGC of this activity.

Determining the population of uncirculated uncertified coins is of course impossible. Recently however, the number of uncertified problem free choice large HK large cents appearing in auction has declined significantly as major auction houses have realized that certified coins sell for significantly more when internet bidders are involved. It may be logical to assume that an expensive coin that is not certified is that way for a reason. It still may be possible to find great uncertified coins for sale, but it is prudent to carefully view the coin in person before making an offer or bid.

Also be mindful that PCGS is consistently stricter in their grading of copper and bronze coins. This difference is often one or two points for uncirculated coins and many coins graded red by another coin grading entity do not cross at the same designation into a PCGS holder. The same is true for the RB designation, but to a lesser degree.


KM#4.1 1863-1877
Full red cents are ultra rare. A few have been certified as red. Whether they are still red is unknown. About half of the coins designated as red-brown are dated 1863. All are scarce in MS63RB. Four are known in MS65RB. The population for brown uncirculated certified coins is low. Most likely many if not most, brown uncirculated large cents of this type have not been certified. Circulated coins are presently an inexpensive way to collect these coins. They are not easy to find in problem-free condition in XF and AU grades. Many have been cleaned as they frequently suffer from environmental damage. Acquisition of these in problem-free condition whenever they are available is highly recommended. They are definitely not common this way.

KM#4.2  1877 and 1879
The key to the HK large cent type set. Both dates are very difficult to locate in uncirculated condition. One PCGS 1877 and one PCGS 1879 are known in MS64RD. One 1877 is known in PCGS MS64RB. (This coin was crossed from an NGC MS65RB holder. It still appears in the NGC population report.) These two dates are also scarce in high grade circulated condition and are more dificult to find than KM#4.1.

KM#4.3  1879-1901
Much easier to find with eye-appeal than the previous two types. Uncirculated coins for sale are usually dated 1901 or 1901-H. Coins graded MS63RB and above can be found without too much difficulty but MS63RD and above are elusive. Nice high grade circulated specimens are readily available and often at a bargain. One can be very selective with these. Avoid cleaned and heavily spotted examples.

KM#11  1902-1905
Readily available in all grades up to MS64RD. An MS64RD sells for around $200 presently. Only three coins are known in PCGS MS65RD. Lesser coins are fairly easy to find especially in circulated condition.

KM#16  1919-1926
The availabilty of many 1926 coins in MS65RD is currently sufficient to meet the present demand of type coin collectors. All other dates are scarce in MS65RD but can sometimes be found for little premium over the much more common 1926 date.

KM#17  1931-1934
Few of these coins have been certified and thus are seldom seen this way. They are not believed to be scarce. If this is an indication of the number of type coin collectors of HK coins, then the number is presently indeed less than once believed. Perhaps this is due to the expense of the earlier HK coins.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2008, 02:50:06 PM by BobW »

Offline snowball

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Re: A brief look at the Hong Kong large cents
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2008, 08:28:39 AM »
Great post!  Thank you!
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Offline badon

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Re: A brief look at the Hong Kong large cents
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2008, 10:35:41 PM »
This is a great post. I've been away a while, and I'm happy to dig through this info when I have a spare moment.