Travel marked the first three months of this year: three coin shows in the U.S. and major sales and meetings in Europe.
The LaRiviere sales of Irish coins and Scottish coins were particularly exciting because they offered material that is genuinely scarce and seldom seen. All the lots I won in the Irish sale were quickly placed with people who contacted me.
I bought heavily in the Scottish sale. If you look at historic values of Scottish gold versus English gold and look at prices now, you get the sense that choice Scottish coins, gold or silver, were underpriced in the LaRiviere sale. The absolute number of choice Scottish coins available to collectors is small. When you review auction catalogs and see that most of the better coins have important pedigrees, it is an indication that the better coins move from collection to collection and little that is unknown shows up for sale.
I think choice Scottish coins are still underpriced given their rarity, the beauty of their designs and their historic importance.
The LaRiviere Scottish sale was also a bit hampered by incomplete and occasionally inaccurate cataloging. For example, Murray's study of the unicorns of James III and IV is now an accepted part of Scottish attribution. Murray assigns the EXVRGAT obverse legend to James III and the IACOBVS legend to James IV. Lots 61 and 62 of the sale are both assigned to James III by the cataloger who mistakenly notes "this coin is not exactly the same as any variety described by Burns, it clearly belongs to the earlier issues of James III...."
Important provenances were also missing. Lot 145, the gold twenty pound piece of James VI, had no provenance provided. LaRiviere bought it in a DNW sale in 1997 where it was offered with the note "To the best of our knowledge this coin has never before been offered at Public auction." Actually, this piece was sold in the famous Murdoch sale of 1903, lot 266. It brought £81 in that sale, a remarkably strong price for the era. The Murdoch sale was known for its offering of the finest known examples. Murdoch had the resources and contacts to build what still ranks as the most comprehensive and important collection of British coins ever formed.
The Murdoch provenance was also missing in the Irish sale of the proof gunmoney crown with plain edge.
I bought three of the coins listed above. I did not catch the error on the unicorns until I had the coin in hand. When viewing sales, it is easy to miss something like this. Fortunately, the value of a unicorn such as this is little affected by which monarch is designated. My limit on the £20 issue of James VI was much higher than the hammer price. I rated it according to its provenance and condition and assumed I might have to go to £65K+one bid or so to still feel it was something I could expect to handle with a small profit.
All this underscores something about auctions. There are opportunities to obtain relative bargains when you know the series well.
One other thing to keep in mind with hammered coins is the relatively small difference in price between a Very Fine coin and an Extremely Fine coin. Genuinely Extremely Fine coins with full flans and a pleasing appearance are remarkably scarce for most issues. In the U.S. series, the multiples as you move a few points up the Sheldon scale are almost breathtaking. But you can still obtain choice hammered gold and silver coins in choice Extremely Fine for no more than three or four times the catalog price of a Very Fine coin. You can obtain them, that is, if you can find them. Choice examples of most of the scarcer issues are remarkably hard to find. When I get them, they often go out quickly without my having a chance to offer them more generally.
Right now I do have a few choice Scottish gold coins for sale. Many of the pieces I bought in the sale have already gone out to people I was in touch with before the sale. But if you are interested in top quality Scottish gold, I have a few choice pieces to offer and will be glad to send you information.
On the topic of publishing: we have not issued a catalog since the turn of the year so I am working on a Summer fixed price catalog. My plan is to send it by regular "snail mail" and provide a PDF file on this web site. My 16-going-on-17 year old son is going to bring his electronic wizardry skills to bear on loading more material on this site. So, if all goes according to plan, you will see more here in the not too distant future.
Auction 25 is in the planning stage but right now I am planning to publish it so that it closes in late January 2007. That will allow us to show lots at the FUN show and at the New York International show.
These comments are written only for the web site. It is probably not widely read but if you have comments or questions, send me an email. I would appreciate hearing from you.
And a final thought: if you have material to sell, now is an excellent time. Please get in touch.
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.Close