December 2007

The completion of our 26th auction carries with it a feeling of satisfaction and even excitement about the material. I have been viewing printed sheets as they come off the press so that any final adjustments to the color can be made before the catalogs are assembled. Looking at the coins on a large freshly printed sheet gives me a different sense of them. I catalogued them, photographed them, laid out the type and designed the catalog overall. And Marnie and I discussed the catalog and cut in her editorial suggestions. Her painstaking review of my work is an essential part of producing the catalog.

As it comes off the press, it is finally at the point that I can see how it all comes together.

As i drove back from the print shop (about 40 minutes away) I was thinking about our early catalogs, putlished in the 1970s. I would type copy and take Polaroid photographs with a small specially built box holding a Polaroid body. Then the photos had to be cut out and pasted down. Marnie and i would rent night time space at a printing company and she would typeset on an IBM typesetting machine while I would cut masks for the photographs. Then we would lay everything up and wax it into place.

We have come a long way since then, both in terms of catalog production and in terms of the level of coins we are able to handle. Being able to handle important coins has required that we climb a learning curve, another fascinating and challenging part of our numismatic profession. That learning curve is something I have a better understanding of from a book I ran across recently.

It is a marvelous book by a cognitive psychologist, Daniel Levitin, titled This Is Your Brain on Music. His underlying thesis is that learning music is as natural a process as learning language. (The book does not require a degree in psychology to read. It was written for anyone interested in this aspect of how the brain works.) A couple of points are particularly relevant to numismatics. The first is that achieiving mastery of any complex skill is a ten thousand hour process. One has to spend at least that much time along with passion and appropriate technique as part of the mix.

The second point that the book touches upon is that there are templates that we follow in the acquisition of a skill like language as well as patterns we develop through practice that enable us to learn and evaluate new material more quickly. This latter point reminded me of study and work that I went through as a graduate student in psychology more than three decades ago. One of the themes at the Human Learning Center at the University of Minnesota was that "the mind remembers what it does."

I first learned about this book through an editorial by a wine expert applying Levitt's concepts to his field and began thinking about what we have learned from over thirty years working with classic coins. Recognizing a good coin that is worth pursuing is the reward for all the time spent. Good coins are not necessairly expensive coins. Reading a catalog from right to left like a menu in an upscale restaurant is not a guarantee of quality. There are many aspects of a desirable coin that are more important than price--style, surfaces, toning, wear patterns, historic/numismatic significance. But you do have to have a grasp of all these characteristics if you are going to spend a large amount of money on something.

Our goal is to offer coins in our sales that meet favorably these non-price criteria. One of the joys of numismatics is that we can have a variety of numismatic things that can give satisfaction and fascination.

Enjoy the catalog. We try to make it something pleasurable to handle even if your collecting interests are only touched upon here and there.

Allan Davisson

Saturday, December 1, 2007


How Bidding Works


Davissons Ltd uses a soft close for its auctions, which means no lot closes until everyone is done bidding. Every time a bid is placed within the final 40 seconds of a lot closing, the timer is reset to 40 seconds. This continues until no bids are placed for 40 seconds, at which point the lot closes. There will never be more than one lot closing at once, as the next lot is not allowed to begin closing until the current lot closes.

To bid: enter your maximum bid into the text box, and click submit. Only round dollar amounts are accepted. You are then required to confirm your bid. Once confirmed, all bids are final. If you have placed a bid in error you must call during office hours and speak to one of us. If you are the current high bidder then it will display “Current High Bidder: YOU” If you are not the high bidder, or if you are not logged in, then the current high bidder will be identified by their 5 digit client ID. You may find your client ID under the Account tab.

Bids are reduced automatically, so feel free to bid your maximum and it will be reduced to one increment over the current high bid. If a user places a bid that is higher than necessary to be the current high bidder on the lot, the displayed bid will reflect one advance over the next lower bid. For example, if a user "A" places a bid of $120 on a lot which opens at $100, "A" will be winning that lot at $100. If another user "B" bids $110, the winning bidder will be "A" at $120, one advance over the supporting bid of $110. If user "B" in this example instead placed a bid at $120, then user "A" will still be winning at $120 because they placed that maximum bid value first.

Increments can be viewed here. The next bid will always be on the next increment, so if a user is winning a lot at $100, or $105, or $109, the next bid will still always be $110.

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