For several days, we have been preparing a large article on the 20 Piastres Type 1906 and 1921 for the Issues of Saigon and Haiphong. While searching for banknotes on ebay in order to complete our inventory, we came across a sale in progress of a 20 Piastres Purple Type 1906 with decrees (Ref. K134b, P38b or B121b). (1)
The bill, the sale of which ended on June 22, 2020, was offered for auction at the starting price of $ 9.99 (eBay item number: # 153972236292). The seller "banknotes_addiciton", indicated the following comments in the description:
- FRENCH INDOCHINA P# 38 1917 20 PIASTRES LARGER NOTE aEF - EF
- NO TEAR OR PINHOLES
- CRIPSY AND STRONG PAPER
- RARE IN SUCH GOOD CONDITION
- PLEASE SEE THE PHOTOS TO DETERMINE THE GRADE FROM MY OPINION IS aEF - EF
- CATALOG PRICE OVER 2000 USD
This numbered copy “O.57-435” finally sold for $ 660 and twenty collectors competed to get it (see the note below):
The metamorphosis of the 20 Piastres of Hong Kong banknote!
After reading the number and the series in order to report them in our score, we found that the note was already referenced and our comments indicated that the bill had been sold for $ 228 by the American auction house Stack's Bowers during a Live Auction in Hong Kong in May 2020 (lot #51036). But it was by looking more closely at the wording of the sale that we were surprised to read that the copy was graded: "PCGS Fine 12 Details and Pinholes" (2). See the real banknote below:
Proof through image ...
Oops! It is the very first time that we are confronted with this type of scam consisting in withdrawing a banknote from its holder in order to make it more beautiful! Most of the time, it is rather the opposite that occurs; the schemers try to embellish their banknotes before trying to validate them with companies specializing in "Grading".
Even if the proof by the image is unequivocal here, here is the list of all the tortures inflicted on this poor bill:
- the dominant purple color of origin has disappeared and the note has become gray-blue,
- the yellow dirt spots are gone,
- pins and rust spots have been restored,
- the holes have been filled,
- the traces of folds in eight have disappeared.
We observe the same transformations on the reverse. In addition, it is rather surprising that the banknote was not redrawn at the level of the margins, because it is often the first stage of destructive manipulation.
Frantic manipulation of auctions
In order to be certain of succeeding in its scam, "banknotes_addiciton" has also managed to increase the bids using an accomplice ebay account "*** 3 (1)" which we have highlighted in pale yellow in the “Bid history” and of which we present you the probable development:
- June 17, 2020: goes on sale at $ 9.99.
- June 19, 2020: after 3 days, the auction is only $ 56. On the same day, entry into the account "*** 3 (1)". Between 11:08 am and 11:09 am (local time), “*** 3 (1)” will then artificially “push” the auction offered on June 18 with “1 *** n (395)” at $ 200, by successively offering 18 auctions until the ad reaches the price of $ 205.
- June 22: To make sure not to lose money, "*** 3 (1)" still places two last auctions of $ 248 and $ 261 on the morning of the closing day of the announcement. Why not more? Quite simply, because the seller “banknotes_addiciton” is probably the purchaser of the May sale at Stack's Bowers and his initial investment of $ 228 is now reached and even exceeded. Note that "banknotes_addiciton" is also installed in Hong Kong, as if by chance ... All that remains is to wait for other bidders to join the dance and be trapped.
- June 22 at 9:07 am (local time), the banknote is sold at $ 660, almost three times its original purchase price!
First of all, let's hope that the final buyer will read our news ... before the next 14 days, since the seller offers a return of the object purchased during this period! Note for the funny side that "banknotes_addiciton" does not offer the return of graded banknotes, it's a shame!
Finally, we would like to inform collectors that the 20 piastres Type 1906 with decrees for Saigon and Haiphong issues never meet beyond the VF+ grade! So beware when you are offered a banknote in a higher quality and especially at the starting price of $ 10 ...
(1) Catalog references: P38b = Pick (World Paper Money), B121b = TBB (The Banknote Book) and K134b = Kolsky.
(2) "Grade 12 F (Fine)". Numizon comment: "The note in "12" grade has heavy traffic marks with many folds and wrinkles. The paper is not too dirty, but seems soft in the hand. Margins show a large number of handling traces with minimal tears. There may be a central hole in the middle of the note. The colors are still clear. The note keeps a pretty good appearance".