Flicking through the Roxbury's catalogue from front to back, here are a few of my comments as to how it went down:
- Pre-decimal coins were a tad patchy - There were no less than 3 1930 pennies that were included in this sale (not bad for what is supposed to be Australia's rarest coin!), and the good news is that each of them sold, not only that but they each made a price in line with recent sales. This result could show that there is at least some "new" SMSF money out there for good numismatic items, principally because the 1930 penny is the most accessible rare coin we have here in Australia - every man and his brother knows that it's rare. Aside from the 1930 pennies, the 1923 halfpennies continue to be soft - just 2 of the 11 lots sold, both of the sold lots were at the low end of recent activity. I wouldn't be a confident buyer of a 1923 halfpenny at the moment unless it's cheap or absolutely top grade (ie EF+). The clearance rate for the rest of the material included was not strong, and that goes for the better material as well as that which was lower grade.
- Varieties and errors remain popular - Error coins seem to be pretty popular with a core group of dedicated collectors at the moment. An off-planchet 5¢ error made good money, as did the Goose pattern dollar that was included. The error notes at the end of the sale also had a solid clearance rate, showing again that buyers are prepared to spend money even in these uncertain times when they've assured themselves they're getting something rare at a price they're happy with. Due to a lack of clear guidelines as to market values (ie a lack of clear advise in the popular price guides), error and variety collectors have to do more legwork than the rest of us collectors, which means they're more self-confident with their own calculations of value.
- Gold coins are misbehaving! - Although the bullion market still could be described as being at a higher level rather than a lower level at the moment, demand for coins isn't being reflcected in higher premiums for the average coins. I find this to be really odd at a time when demand for physical bullion is at an all-time high! The prices that a number of the coins in this sale made were still at a similar premium to what such coins were selling for in years past, albeit at a higher spot bullion price (if that makes any sense at all!). This could be taken to mean that due to their relative rarity and collectible value, quasi-bullion sovereigns etc are much better value for money than an equivalent amount of gold bullion at the moment.
- Internment tokens continue to be keenly chased - I don't know what it is, but I swear that there is more per-capita demand for tokens from the Hay Internment Camp (from WWII) in Queensland than there is in any other part of the country! I don't know if this is because the auctioneers up there are quick to add any stock to their sales whenever they become available (and as such collectors have become used to them as their first port of call when buying) or what other factor is at the root of recent results, but the tokens in this sale made good money again.
- The news in the note market isn't all great yet - Anyone that's been to an auction where a reasonable number of decimal notes have been included will attest to the fact that they can be pretty turgid affairs - lots of lots (pardon the pun) with intermittent action at relatively low levels. There is a good market for paper decimal notes, but it is patchy and takes place only at certain price levels. This auction was no exception! The printed folders included in this sale all sold well however, which again shows that dedicated collectors will buy anything they believe is good value for money. The clearance rate for the pre-decimal notes in this sale was unfortunately quite low (I calculated it as being around 20% for all lots sold actually in the room), and the passed in lots ranged for items at the lower end of the quality scale right up to the higher end. The upside of this is that if you're a dedicated collector of pre-decimal notes, and are not particularly concerned if you don't see any growth for a while, then there sure is some good buying out there at the moment!
I don't have the facts at hand (let's not let that get in the way of a quick report!), but from what I could see, attendance numbers at the Brisbane show were reasonably down on recent years. Due to the number of dealers in attendance, the Brisbane show is one of the largest on the annual ANDA calendar, and unfortunately this year it didn't hold up to the activity in previous years. I may be a little sulky in writing this, as although our own stand was a little quiet, I did hear that other dealers had no such complaints! Having said that, most of the dealers I spoke with weren't particularly concerned - most saying that even though they were a little quiet on one of the days or even over the whole weekend, they were busy enough "at home" not to worry about it too much.
There will always be non-economic reasons why a show isn't as busy as expected, or more pointedly why one particular dealer's participation in a show isn't as expected. Competitive factors always come into play (I for one clearly didn't have the stock that a lot of the collectors in attendance were after), while minor matters such as the weather and competing events can also play a part in how many people attend, and how much they do when they do attend. Having said that, I don't think the torrential rain that hit Brisbane earlier in the week played much of a role in keeping buyers and sellers away from the show, but I may be wrong. Better to put it down to an ongoing recession and be done with it!