I remember being at an investment seminar a few years ago where the international guest speaker was asked where he thought the property market was headed. The audience waited breathlessly while the speaker paused for a moment, and then he said "It will probbaly go up for a bit, then down, then up, then down." Which seemed like such a damn obvious answer many in the room wondered why they'd shelled out a few grand to hear this guy speak.
And that is pretty much how the most recent Downie auction panned out - some of the prices were strong, some were soft, a lot of items sold, and a number were passed in. From what I can see from the published prices realized, total sales came to $1,019,327, and the clearance rate was 84.09%. In order to make sense of both of these facts, it'd work to know what the pre-sale estimates were, and what clearance rates have been for other auctions recently.
Sales volume was up significantly on the previous auction, and although the clearance rate was down by 5%, this is hardly surprising given the current economic climate.
From what I can see, pre-decimal notes continued to be a little on the soft side (no matter what grade the notes were in), and in fact that is pretty much the comment across the board. The UNC Type II Adelaide Pound made $76,00 + 19.25% buyer's premium for a nett $90,630. Although the current catalogue value is closer to $125,000, this result is actually in the upper end of the range they've been making at auction in recent years. Other high value items in the sale were a few decimal specimen notes, most of which were passed in. Perhaps the most interesting item in the sale for me was lot 2745 - a set of specimen decimal notes in a presentation folder and from 1985. The reason this set was interesting was: a. because it hadn't been seen before; and b. the serial numbers were conveniently obscured in the catalogue image. Given that the serials weren't visible, the cynic in me reckons that they were probably notes taken from standard circulation print runs, which then had the (correct and fully authorized) "Specimen" overstamp in red ink.
The set made $36,000 + BP for $42,930 nett - this is either going to end up being an absolute steal for what is now the rarest set of decimal specimen notes ever seen on the open market, or it will be pretty expensive if it turns out that the rest of the collector market isn't as fired up about them as the winning bidder. The Type 2 set of decimal specimens is technically the rarest, but since they were never released in an album and have only ever been sighted once at auction as a set, I'd have to say that this set pips that lot.
The set is accompanied by a letter from the Governor of the RBA, Bernie Fraser, thanking the original recipient for work done. That should clear up for once and all any hint of a question about the authenticity of the set, the only thing the future will determine is just how interested the rest of the collector market is in it.