The PCGS Asia office in Hong Kong was the first overseas location set up to service the numismatic community abroad by PCGS. Since its founding it has become a hub for collectors and dealers in many countries to submit their coins and banknotes for authentication and grading. Dealers from Australia, China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and other countries continually use the services of the PCGS Hong Kong office. Two on-site grading events are offered there each year, and a continuous express shipment service to send submissions to the United States officeand back to the Hong Kong facility has grown to be a success for PCGS as well as the dealers and collectors who use it for their submissions. The wide diversity of submissions to the Hong Kong office means theycan and often include anything and everything from around the world, including – sometimes – a phenomenal surprise.
As a grader, grading can either be a thrill or the doldrums, depending on the submission. In a PCGS Hong Kong office submission, a coin in a random box made me gasp. Submitted as a generic gold piece, a common-date gold sovereign turned out the be the finest-known example for the series. Looking at the coin’s condition in disbelief, this stunning example was truly unbelievable. Walking the coin over to another grader for a second opinion, he was also shocked at the preservation of this piece. On the rare occasion when this happens with a coin of this nature, PCGS will carefully gather input from vintage graders in attendance in order to come to a consensus to prevent extra handling. The grading room settled at the grade of MS67+.
The coin, an 1874 Australia Sovereign with St. George Reverse from the Melbourne Mint in Australia, has a mintage of 1,373,000 split between two different reverse designs, St. George motif as seen here or a shield. The Australia Sovereign is a coin that did circulate often in commerce. Finding higher-grade examples of such coins can be challenging. Since PCGS started certifying coins, it has graded over 19,000 circulation-issue sovereigns from 1855-1931. Of these coins, over 10,800 are from the Queen Victoria era. Prior to this singlefinest-known example, a total of 14 had reached MS66 (two 66+) for the entire series, including three Victoria-era sovereigns graded PCGS MS66.. Prior to this example, the finest-known 1874 Melbourne Mint Sovereign was graded MS64 by PCGS.
This submission to our PCGS Hong Kong office surprised the grading room with the treasure it held. It is unknown if the submitter was just as thrilled to discover the grade of their coin and to find out it was the finest-known example. What is sure is that with PCGS authentication, grading, and encapsulation in its PCGS holder, the treasure is properly recognized, has been accurately graded, and will be protected for many years to come.