International Auction Galleries held their 72nd auction of rare coins and banknotes at the Gold Coast over the weekend - not only was the clearance rate quite high relative to similar auctions held earlier in 2010, but the level of activity was solid across the board. What can we take away from the level of activity that was seen there? Let's break the auction down into sections and see:
Proclamation and Colonial Coins
There weren't too many lots included in this section, but those included were scarcer coins and were in better than average condition. The clearance rate was high, which shows me at least that there are plenty of colonial coin collectors that aren't shy about paying strong prices for coins that they believe are in better than average condition and are tough to get. Some of the prices for Ducats were strong indeed.
Commonwealth (Pre-Decimal Coins)
This series was split into two sections - one including what we might call the cheaper collectible coins, the other including what we might call the more expensive and exclusive coins. I didn't see much difference in the momentum, level of bidding activity or buying preferences in either section. Attractive coins with eye appeal that had been fairly graded and reserved accordingly sold well, coins that the bidders thought didn't meet that criteria either missed their mark or only just got away. The fact that there was good bidding at the lower levels says to me that there is plenty of legs in this market yet.
A couple of the more notable results were:
$12,230 nett paid for the 1919 Double Dot penny in A UNC - I realise that this coin description may seem to be nonsense to most clear minded individuals, however anyone familiar with the penny series will know just how rare this coin is, particularly in better condition. Judging by what this coin sold for relative to other rarities the last time it came around, I hope the successful (mail) bidder was pretty pleased with themselves with their win!
$35,183 paid for the 1925 Penny in CH UNC - This particular coin was remarkable to see - lovely surfaces, soft colours and attractive all round. A comparable coin hasn't been seen in this condition for a long, long time, as the catalogue value has risen markedly in the interim, it was probably apt to see it meet that mark in this auction.
$7,340 for a 1914 Threepence in GEM UNC - This coin came with a provenance renown among collectors of Pre-Decimal coins, that being from Frank Gates. For those not familiar with this collection, in my understanding it was formed mainly throughout the 80's, coins from it are very nearly always of the highest standard and very seldom turn up. This coin was no exception, having been graded GEM and not having been seen on the market for quite some time. It made a price just shy of the present catalogue value - if it isn't the highest price for a circulation strike threepence in recent years, it would have to be right up there!
$7,223 for a 1920 Threepence in GEM UNC - This threepence came with the same provenance as the 1914, and competition for it easily exceeded the present catalogue value of $5,750. No matter what the prevailing economic conditions, it seems that there are always enough well-heeled and discerning market participants to drive the very best coins such as these to new highs.
Pre-Decimal Proof Coins
Values of the Taylor patterns in this sale exceeded those that were handled in the Quartermaster Collection a little over 12 months ago, indicating that this series is enjoying a resurgence in collector interest as information on their history and rarity is digested by the market. The Canberra florin (dated 1927) in this sale made what I thought was a rather strong price of over $46,000 nett, particularly since they are not the most difficult pre-decimal commemorative coin to obtain in proof form. The proof 1937 crown in this sale was also an attractive and bright example, and eventually exceeded the present catalogue value after some spirited bidding.
It seems that many auctioneers (and dealers such as ourselves for that matter) set a dedicated section of their offerings aside for just the rarest and very best. This sale included a Holey Dollar with an impeccable provenance, a truly rare 1887 gold Two Pound from the Sydney Mint, as well as the finest known example of the 1922/1 overdate threepence. The Holey Dollar understandably had a reserve that matched it's provenance, and was passed in when interest didn't meet that level. Most observers would have to say that this was quite understandable - I wouldn't want to give a coin of that calibre away either!
The headline coin in this section of the sale was the finest known example of the 1922/1 overdate threepence. It easily graded A UNC, and exceeds the condition of what is regarded as being the previous finest known example (also sold by IAG in March 2009) by a reasonable degree. Strong detail both sides and an attractive tone, this exclusive and controversial coin has it all. It eventually cracked the $150,000 mark, and has to be considered an excellent result.
This area of the sale was also split into several sections according to grade and price, and could be said to have been a little softer than the other sections discussed. Make no mistake, the value was certainly there - my back of the bus ticket figures indicate that there was over $600,000 in turnover from some 70-80 lots, so it wasn't a case of buyers having the rarities all to themselves. If a note can compare in calibre to the 1922/1 overdate threepence discussed above, it was the R19 Superscribed One Pound note from the ES&A Bank. This item again was rated as being the finest known for it's type, and made a price to match - the nett price exceeding $142,000 easily doubled the previous (somewhat) comparable note sold back in 2006. There were a couple of bargains to be had, but they were certainly far and few between! Those notes that were left behind probably had one of a few factors in common, perhaps that they weren't exceedingly rare for the grade, or were priced at levels slightly over what the active bidders believed them to be. It was pleasing to see the quality notes turn over, and not surprising to see others stay where they were.
Although it was a lightning visit by me to the Gold Coast (I was there for less than 24 hours!), I'm certainly pleased I made the trip. I was more than pleased to make the trip. There's nothing better than seeing the action happen first hand to get a clear idea of where the market's at, and also to chew the flesh with a few colleagues from around the country.
The Next Round of Auction Activity
September seems to be quiet on the auction front, however across October and November we have 4 auctions in the space of 8 weeks. Roxbury's are the first off the block with their next sale on October 9th, followed by Status and Downies later in October, then Noble Numismatics in late November. Get the digestive bitters out, it looks like there's going to be a bit coming down the chute in that period!