Times may be tough in Hong Kong, but auction house Spinks, a subsidiary of Christie's, still managed to raise almost HK$18 million in sales of banknotes and stamps last weekend. However, Spinks specialists still said turnover was slower than they had anticipated, with stamps selling better than banknotes. Barnaby Faull, banknote specialist, said: 'The banknotes were a little disappointing. The market was so high a few years ago, things were crazy. It has been quieter the past few years and September 11, of course, doesn't help at all.' He said Hong Kong collectors were lacking confidence in the present climate, whereas those in the West were slightly more resilient. 'Everyone here invests and when the stock market goes down people lose confidence . . . it affects everything. Banknotes and coins are a luxury. If you are bit worried about where the food is going to come from next week you are not going to be putting money into unnecessary items,' Mr Faull said. Nevertheless, a HK$100 note from the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp, dated January 1, 1909, went for HK$184,000 (including premium), from a pre-sale estimate of HK$170,000 to HK$180,000. The rare note has an image of water carriers on the left and a street scene on the right. A Standard Chartered Bank HK$1,000 note realised a price of HK$86,250, well above the pre-sale estimate of HK$30,000 to HK$40,000. The uncirculated note is from a lucky number set of the January 1, 1993, issue. 'At the high-end of the market, the prices seem to be holding up pretty well. It is the [market for the] ordinary stuff that appeals to people who are not going to spend a great deal that seems to be very soft,' Mr Faull said. Most of the value items were sold, but many lower-priced items failed to attract buyers. Stamp expert Neill Granger was pleased with the results of the stamp auction. Stamps had a wider appeal, he said, attracting buyers from the United States and Europe, and local collectors. Banknote collectors are 99 per cent local. Lot 2128 in the stamp auction, a first-day cover with four Hong Kong 1891 Jubilee two-cent stamps, was estimated to sell for between HK$80,000 and HK$100,000. It went for HK$138,000. The cover carries a history with which many budding Hong Kong philatelists will identify. When Hong Kong issued its first commemorative stamp in 1891, the post office limited sales to 10 stamps per customer due to unexpectedly high demand. But the buyers expected a surge in value and demand hit fever pitch. One report at the time claimed that two Portuguese sailors lost their lives in the scramble to obtain as many stamps as possible. The auctioned cover addressed to England carries four of the stamps, a high number considering the limited supply. Only four first-day covers are known to exist. Lot 3095, a Chinese postal stationery reply card dated 1907, sold for HK$97,750 from a pre-sale estimate of HK$60,000 to HK$80,000. In the collecting world, pre-paid envelopes and cards have long been regarded as the poor relations of stamps, according to Spinks, but Chinese postal stationery has become very popular in recent years. English collector Lionel Prescott has created one of the world's finest collections in this category, from which this example comes. It is notable for the printing error which places the reply section on the right instead of the left side of the card, increasing its rarity. The auction results are a lesson in quality for avid collectors hoping to build a collection of worth.