Something old, something new

Welcome to our 31st Auction and our first involving our new partner, our son Lief. While the format of the printed catalog has not changed much since Auction 30, there are two major changes about our business and this auction:

  • First, there are now three of us: Allan, Marnie and Lief, our son, a recent college graduate (2011) who completed an eight month internship at CNG and has been working with us since June. He has radically upgraded our use of computer software. I have managed to “get by” with sometimes awkward adaptations while he dove in and streamlined catalog production. For him, “computer” is a native language; for me it is a second language learned later in life. And thus, the second change....
  • You can now bid in this sale online at this website, To some extent, we are “beta” testing as well as introducing online bidding. The bidding details are explained both in the Terms of Use, and on each lot. Simply click the “?” next to the lot timer to read an explanation of how we handle bidding (it is slightly different than many online auctions, but hopefully will prove a more pleasant experience for all). However, we still intend to continue our high level of personal service. Mailed bid sheets, faxes, emails, phone calls--they will all still work well. We will update the web bidding regularly. And we are available to consult and converse by telephone throughout the sale.

Auction 31 is an interesting mix of coins: some classic gold and a few gold coins from India where gold is a central part of their culture and small denominations allow more people to own actual gold. Gold is so popular in India that vendors sell a few grains of gold in bubble wrap packages to buyers with limited funds.

The Greek section includes a number of choice and attractive coins and is dominated by a select group of coins from the BCD collection of coins of the Peloponnesos. The BCD collection was formed over several decades of concentrated and knowledgeable collecting. This exhaustive Greek collection has been appearing in auctions for over a decade. Some of the material has been sold privately and we have purchased select material from the Peloponnesos portion. Last year we attended the final major sale of the collection in Zurich when the Thessaly section was offered. This fantastic collection has become definitive for the series and the auction catalogs now sit on our reference shelves. Over the decades during which Marnie and I have been devoting our work lives to coins, we have seen large groups and major collections come to market several times. For a while, the material seems plentiful but very quickly that plenty is mostly a memory. The BCD sales from the early 90s are a memory. The Boeotian issues are as scarce, if not more scarce, than they were before the BCD sales by Lanz in 2001 and 2002. The BCD Peloponnesos collection was first offered by LHS Numismatics in 2006. We saw the group offered here as a buying opportunity and we believe you will be very happy to acquire some of these historic and rare issues while you still can.

The Roman section: I particularly like a couple of the provincial pieces. The designs are fascinating and the condition is very pleasing for what the pieces are. A couple of other coins deserve special mention: the Faustina sestertius with a pedigree that goes back a century and the magnificent Orbiana denarius. “Style” is a term used far more with Greek than with Roman coins. Yet, both of these pieces are of excellent style, realistic, detailed and even exciting. The Orbiana denarius is in superb condition, a sculptural piece in high relief with a strong strike on both sides.

The British section includes almost a hundred coins from the collection of Jim Farr. In his own words: “I began collecting hammered material in the late 1970s while living in Munich, West Germany. I began with modern Irish coins while living in Pensacola in 1975. I am a biologist and a musician, so the modern Irish series with an animal on one side, harp on the other, was perfect. Then I discovered 18th century Irish with the harp and ruler, crossed over to the English series as well, then started going backwards to the Celts and Hiberno Norse. It all started with animals and harps.” Between his collection and some other material we have acquired—someone else’s lifelong collection, some auction purchases, some material we have had in back-stock—we can offer a coin for every monarch since the Norman Conquest. The difficult “2,3,4,5” group is here: William II, Richard III, Henry IV and Edward V. And so are pleasing pieces from every other person to occupy the English throne since 1066.

The Scottish, Irish and Anglo-Gallic sections have several great coins and a good number of decent and interesting coins with a particularly broad representation of Irish issues. The section ends with Anglo-Gallic issues.

Trade tokens are next, a selection mostly from a collector whose main interest was Scotland in addition to collecting high quality issues of England, Wales and Ireland. There are some rarities, several particularly interesting pieces in addition to some high grade examples of tokens that are appealing because of their condition.

Finally, some important references, collectible as classic books or sales but also important references.

Estimates: We get catalogs from many dealers in the United States as well as England and Europe. Estimated prices range from so low that everything looks like a bargain to so high that I wonder whether anybody anywhere finds them credible. Low estimates, typically but not exclusively a European more than an American phenomenon, draw hopeful interest and allow the auctioneer to advertise their sale success in terms of exceeding estimates. Very high estimates may sometimes be wishful thinking on the part of the cataloger but we do notice when collections come to us that people have paid those prices. We follow the market closely and have a clear sense of fair value for what we list, and we build our catalogs around those numbers. Additionally, we continue to resist the almost universal move to buyer’s fees.

Auction 32 will be coming next spring. Now that there are three of us, two sales per year are more feasible. We have a decent start: some appealing British coins; a smattering of historic world coins; a group of Colonial and early US material including some collectible and affordable Colonial copper, some early type coins and a small but high grade collection of hard times tokens.

Please consider consigning or selling to us. We catalog carefully, pay promptly and your coins will not get lost in the middle of a thick and heavy volume of thousands of coins. For less expensive material, we plan on internet-only auctions to begin in 2013. For those who prefer to not use computers, we have a plan to provide printed copies of these internet sales--more on that when the time comes.

Please stop by if you are in the San Francisco area in mid-December, the 14th and 15th, Marnie and I will have a table at the San Francisco Historical Bourse at the Holiday Inn at 1500 Van Ness Ave. And all three of us will set up at the Orlando Convention Center for the FUN show, January 10-12, 2013.

Allan Davisson

Saturday, November 3, 2012


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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