Here we are at the tail end of the Australia Day weekend, most civilized people have returned to their gainful employ for the start of the year, minds start turning away from holidays, the beach, cricket and sunshine and towards the regular business of the year. That’s the theory anyway.
Roxbury’s Auction 90 (February 8)
The first numismatic auction for 2014 is sale # 90, held by Roxbury’s in Brisbane. To the degree that it’s the first numismatic auction to be held since the safe custody inventory of the former customers of the Rare Coin Company has been handed back, all eyes are now peeled to see what tone it might set for the year. The sale includes a range of material that hasn’t been seen on the open market for years - not least the Unissued Type II £1,000 Specimen note, featured on the front cover. This note, as well as other items in the sale, are known to have come from the inventory of the Rare Coin Company, creditors will be keen to see all of these items bring strong prices.
The Type II Unissued £1,000 specimen note hasn’t been seen at auction since IAG Auction 68 in September 2008, when it made a nett price of just over $1,000,000. It’s common knowledge that sentiment in much of the market has eased since that time, so it will be interesting to see how this item finishes up. For anyone with a keen interest in the history of Australian paper currency, this could be the opportunity of a lifetime.
The Roxbury’s auction isn’t stocked out with just high-flying items at all - there is just shy of 1,600 lots in the sale, the vast majority of them will appeal to collectors working with a modest budget. The pre-decimal coin section alone features some 500 lots, ranging from inexpensive lots of circulated coins to a few PCGS-graded pieces that should get the registry set devotees fighting amongst themselves. There is a good range of quality material here!
Gold coin collectors certainly don’t miss out either, with over 150 individual sovereigns or half sovereigns to choose from. Rarities in the gold session include a proof 1857 Sydney Mint half soveriegn, as well as a rare 1926 Sydney circulation strike.
The Unissued Type II £1,000 specimen is preceded by an incredibly rare Collins Allen £10 specimen note, this has only been offered for sale via auction twice before.
There are over 100 lots of paper or polymer decimal notes to choose from, real garden variety lots in a range of grades to suit set collectors keen to make some progress. These are closely followed by the decimal specimen notes, and if you’ve had your eye on these for some time but have been waiting for values to come down before getting a toe in the water, I hope you have your cozzie on because now could just be the time. There are 26 different specimen notes to choose from - in the past, you could go years without seeing that number of specimens - to see this many in just one auction really is unprecedented.
There isn’t a huge array of items in the Pre-Federation section, however what is there appears to be well estimated. There are close to 200 different Pre-Decimal notes on offer, and while there many not be many finest known examples amongst them, there is a lot that will satisfy the collector keen on attractive notes at an affordable price.
The starnote section includes a good number of notes that have to be worth reviewing - advertised grades and estimates show there could be some good buying here. The error / variety note session even includes a number of pre-decimal error notes, these are very rare indeed.
I’m really looking forward to this sale - Roxbury’s auctions are always well-attended, and I expect the bidding to be quite spirited across the board. It’s going to be a long day compared to the auctions they normally hold, however I’m confident this is going to be the start of a new phase where we start to see a new energy taking hold in our market.
Downie’s Auction 316 (February 18 & 19)
Less than a fortnight after the Roxbury’s auction, Downie’s follow suit with their first sale of the year. I believe its’ fair to say that Downie’s have a lot more variety than most Australian numismatic auctions - there are many sessions that are reasonably removed from the mainstream areas of Australian numismatics, and unless you’re into medallions, tokens or decimal coins, there won’t be much in the first 1,100 lots of this auction that will interest you.
Tuesday afternoon’s coin session includes a promising array of proclamation and gold coins, as well as a decent range of Australian Commonwealth coins. Just what flies in Melbourne will be interesting to see - we know that finest-known pre-decimal coins are quite strong at the moment, just whether any of the raw coins in this auction are identified by collectors and dealers to meet that standard is always good sport.
The world coin and note sessions at Downie’s always include a few treasures waiting to be discovered - this sale includes a good number of graded US silver dollars, as well as some attractive British Commonwealth notes in nice grade. Any collector of Australian notes that hates missing out on bargains will have to check out the sessions here, as you just never know what might be lurking in this sale.
If there’s a common theme to both of these auctions, it’s an air of anticipation of what might be hidden for the prudent buyer prepared to do their homework. I don’t expect to see any new price records set, however at the same time I’m confident that the clearance rate at both sales will be healthy at least.