Welcome to Auction 38

Old collections, old memories of the coins we sold many years ago, and of collectors, fellow enthusiasts sharing the wonder of numismatics…

A large portion of this catalog has come from collectors we have known, some repositioning their focus; others cutting back on what they own; a few from people upgrading; and, sadly, some from the estates of people we have known. You will also see acquisitions from the current market, items we found particularly appealing.


Here, in brief, is a list of what to look for:

  • Gold—a broad classic sampling (and a stronger offering than we often have)
    • Greek, Roman, British, European hammered, Japan, and finishing up with U.S. coins including one of the great rarities in the U.S. currency gold issues (an 1861 Dahlonega dollar from the John Jay Pittman collection)—all this represents one of the more extensive offerings of this precious metal in one of our major sales. Many of the coins in this section have come back to us from collections that were formed in the latter part of the 20th century. Estimates reflect a conservative take on the current market.
  • Greek—superb tetradrachms and more
    • West to East, interesting representations of the broad spectrum of ancient coins we classify as from ancient Greece—this section covers, in a compact but select offering, Spain, Sicily with some beautiful tetradrachms, Macedon and Thrace and the beauty of Hellenistic dies on large silver, classic silver of Asia Minor, and a final fascinating section of a coinage seldom seen, the Koinon of Macedon series.
  • Roman—“compact but select”
    • The Roman section continues the “compact but select” effort we made when assembling the Greek section: historic and rare Republican and Imperatorial (Marc Antony; Julius Caesar; Octavian), an outstanding beautiful sestertius of Nero, and an interesting mix of later issues.
  • British—important rarities and provenances, world class Charles I crowns, Scotland, Ireland
    • Two pieces to represent Eadgar, considered the first of the Kings of England, a pre-reform piece (S. 1129, lot 95) and then a Reform issue, (S. 1141, lot 96). Then, Harthacnut: A Danish king and also a King of England—two pieces with his name fully spelled out, a Danish mint (lot 99) and a previously unlisted type and moneyer for the English Stamford mint (lot 98).
    • The heart of this section is the collection of large Charles I silver pieces, crowns and a halfpound. This is an exceptional group, lengthy pedigrees, choice coins including several that are considered among the finest known, particularly attractive examples with bold strikes of the horse and rider, old toning. There is also a pair of rare portrait testoons of Mary Stuart, both extremely rare and both affordable. The later portrait testoon of Mary has become a $40,000+ piece in grades just one tick or two above the very presentable piece offered here.
    • The milled section features some of the rarest and finest halfcrowns from Frank Robinson’s collection. You will see more from this extensive and carefully conceived collecting effort later in the year, but the pieces offered here are some of the best.
    • The copper in this section is not extensive, but the three George III patterns that came back to us are choice. One of them is an example of the small group of Matthew Boulton Estate pieces that came on the market a few years ago. This is the first we have handled since we sold most of that group over a decade ago.
  • Eighteenth Century Tokens—Dr. Harry Salyard’s superb collection
    • The trade token collection that Dr. Harry Salyards put together is an exceptional group. He is the editor of Penny-Wise, the long-running publication of Early American Coppers, Inc. He built his collection to represent the counties as D&H defined them, and his eye for quality is evident in the tokens. His enthusiasm is also evident in the many detailed notes he made on many of the envelopes holding his tokens. The envelopes and their liners accompany each of the pieces.
  • World & U.S. Coins—a smattering of fascinating pieces and some choice U.S. material (generally graded by British grading standards)
    • The world coin section is a sampling of some fascinating coins from a couple of different collections that have come back to us. They represent a slice of history, different eras of artistic expression, and some intriguing and fascinating designs.
    • The U.S. section begins with some better quality Colonial America issues. The front part of the Red Book always fascinated me when I was young and still pretty much working with Whitman boards as I looked for coins out of circulation. The price for a 1787 Massachusetts cent like the piece at lot 308 was $4.50 for a Fine piece, arrows in left talon variety (1950 Red Book). At that point in my life collecting pennies from circulation was my budgetary limit. 
    • Now, it has been a pleasure to work with this material. The technical aspects of Colonial coinage, and some of the political aspects as well, are familiar to me in some cases because of the close relationships—and even overlaps—between British coinage and American coinage. My grading here has been based on British grading.
  • Historic Medals—American and British
    • Medals have always been an exciting aspect of numismatics. To some extent the modern market for medals has been separate from the market for currency coins. But I have noticed recently that medals are more often included in British catalogs. The wonderful volume by Chris Eimer has made the series accessible. Medals can offer finer artistry, more complex designs and production, and an immediate sense of history as they mark major aspects of the periods in which they are issued. We have selected an exceptional group, including a few pieces reflecting 18th and 19th century America.
  • Fine Jewelry—reflecting classic numismatics
    • Jewelry has influenced coinage for as long as coins have been collected (Roman times). The two pieces offered here are from a British specialist whose offerings typically include fine work from this fascinating conjunction of jewelry and numismatics. (Jewelry is such a collectible area of its own that DNW, the London coin auction house, now has auctions devoted to jewelry.)


While the history, design, and quality of the material we offer is what appeals most in the process of cataloging, we do spend substantial time on valuation. I think values are off the highs of a few years ago. This makes for a good time to buy.

Lower prices have also happened to U.S. coins. Pull out the most recent Red Book and compare the prices with the 2017 Red Book prices and you will see the point. 

In some ways, this is not surprising. Gold leveled off from a $1900+ high in 2011 to a relatively stable trading range in the $1250 area. The British pound has fallen over 20% in the past five years, a drop that has made U.S. dollars go accordingly farther. 

I prefer a market that seems more temperate. I took up numismatics professionally because of the excitement of handling exciting coins. I could “collect” and hold for a few days or weeks, sell it on and then move on. In an overheated market this strategy can be difficult and problematic, and most importantly it denies ready access to collectors.


We all (Lief, Marnie, myself) believe that this is one of the most exciting catalogs we have put together. As you look through it all, I hope you agree.

And we wish you a happy, healthy, and successful 2019.

Allan Davisson

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


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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