Rare Korean coin from pre-Japanese rule to be auctioned

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NEW YORK—A rare gold coin from the dying days of Korea’s independence before the 1910 takeover by Japan will go on sale in New York in December, Bonhams auctioneers said Friday.

The 20 Won coin dated 1906 last sold just under two years ago for $155,250.

Bonhams in New York said the piece “appears to rank among the highest of all surviving examples, richly lustrous with fully struck surfaces and devices.”

A limited number of gold coins in denominations of 20, 10 and five Won were minted on the eve of Japan’s colonization of Korea.

But after the takeover, “nearly all of these reserve specimens were melted,” Bonhams said. “A very tiny number escaped, thanks to determined numismatists.”

Just over 2,500 of the 20 Wons are believed to have been struck, and the surviving number “is miniscule with only a few known pieces in any grade,” Bonhams said.

The auction takes place on December 13.

Relations remain tense between Japan and South Korea over disputes that have lingered since the 1910-45 period of colonial rule.

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