Ōtaki stamp and coin collection house Mowbray Collectables will host a major international coin and banknote auction worth more than $500,000, starting in Wellington this afternoon.
One of the 590 lots on offer expected to create plenty of interest was New Zealand's first $10 note, coming in at lot 558.
Mowbray Collectables director of coins David Galt said there had been a lot of interest in the first New Zealand decimal note signed by a Reserve Bank Governor - the late Sir Spencer Russell – a $10 note with serial number NJR 000 001.
"We go into this auction with an estimate of $15,000 on this unique and very special piece of New Zealand history," he said.
Galt said there had been heightened interest in the auction - and in stamps and coins in general - since Covid-19 lockdown.
"Our estimates of over $520,000 on coins, medals and banknotes for this event reflect the heightened interest in collectables in general that recent lockdowns have delivered," he said.
"It appears that with time on their hands people have been able to spend more time going through their attic, wondering and researching what Grandad's old treasures might be worth.
"Coins have been getting record prices around the world as people look to alternative ways of securing their investments in uncertain times."
A rare 1891 Otago One Pound banknote (lot 507) worth an estimated $8000 will also go under the hammer. It was only the second Dunedin-issued note Mowbray's had handled, the other of a different type was auctioned in March 2020, fetching more than $17,000.
"All Colonial Bank of New Zealand-issued notes are rare – three each of the two main types known are thought to be in private hands," he said.
"The Colonial Bank was founded by Otago business people in 1873, including William Larnach of Larnach's Castle fame. It stayed in business until 1894 after it hit hard times, following a banking crisis that hit Britain, Australia and New Zealand," he said.
"The Colonial Bank failure was partly because of large doubtful loans by the Colonial Bank to the Colonial Treasurer, Joseph Ward, who went bankrupt and then recovered from bankruptcy and later became Prime Minister."
"The note shows an image of the bank headquarters on the reverse and is known as the "rainbow reverse note" because of the different colours."
Galt said among the record value of lots for Friday's auction event will be coins from the time of Julius Caesar, New Zealand 50 pound notes from the 40s, 50s and 60s and what he describes as pirate treasure coins – "the legendary pieces of eight".
Rare overseas coins were on offer, some classed as ancient dating back to 300BC to the Roman Empire, and other Judean coins dating back the days of the New Testament, some from the time of Christ himself.
Rare pattern NZ decimal coins from the 1980s were on offer for the first time, including the 1982 dollar with reverse fantail, and a 1983 dollar with the fern foliage missing from the 20-cent design.
Viewing for the coin auction at West Plaza Hotel was available this morning ahead of the 12.30pm auction start time today. Current Covid-19 social distancing protocols will apply. People could attend the auctions or place bids online.
Meanwhile, Mowbay's Collectables founder John Mowbray said two items in today's stamp auction stand out for him.
"Arguably, New Zealand's rarest stamp is in this international event. The twelve and six-penny long type Queen Victoria stamp has an estimated value of $50,000, and being an international event anything could happen on the day in terms of an outcome," he said.
"Another interesting New Zealand stamp with a pre-auction estimate of $25,000 comes to this auction from an interesting twist in our country's history. The threepenny 'Vanguard" was produced for the impending 1949 visit of King George the Sixth, the Queen's father."
"The visit never went ahead due to the King's ill health (he died in February 1952) and the stamps were consigned to the furnace. However, it is believed that one sheet escaped that fate and Lot 514, '1949 Royal Visit Vanguard' is one of those extremely rare stamps."
"When I look back over that 1974 run sheet today, I realise that the auction methods have changed dramatically, although rare stamps have stood the harsh test of time and remained a very viable investment channel as well as being an absorbing and satisfying hobby."
Today's auction marks the internationally renowned stamp and coin dealership's 75th auction. Mowbray held his first stamp auction in 1974.
But the Covid Lockdowns in the past two years had been some of the more interesting due the effect they had on stamp collecting.
"People have had more time on their hands to re-ignite interest in former hobbies or to simply sift through what they may have forgotten they have in the attic. This resulting rise in enquiry has increased our business by 30 per cent in the last twelve months," he said.