IAG Numismatic Auction 82 on the Gold Coast - the Biggest In Ages

It’s been a few weeks now since IAG had their 82nd consecutive auction on the Gold Coast - this is fortunate for me as I had a terrible cold at the time (diagnosed as man flu by un-named, entirely not male members of my nuclear family I might add), so I’ve had some time to recover from that weekend.

The results of the auction may not need as much recovery however:

  1. Total Sales: $1,174,000 turnover (rounded out, not including the buyer’s premium)
  2. 766 / 800 lots sold for a clearance rate of 95.75%
  3. 21 lots with a value higher than $10,000 sold , with many lots sold in excess of the minimum 5 figure benchmark figure.

You might wonder why I’d focus on these figures:

  • The total sales figure can show us how active the market is - more coins and notes sold shows a higher level of activity;
  • The clearance rate shows how confident buyers (collectors and dealers) are in the value of an item at the ask price - this can give us a clear idea of how liquid the market is. Clearance rates per product category can show how liquid that product area is, and finally it can show how liquid certain items are;
  • The clearance rate for items above or below a certain value can be an indication of liquidity in that area of the market. Since the market has come off, I’ve used the arbitrary figure of $10,000 as a proxy indicator of the health of the upper end of the market. While certain Australian coins and notes are valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions), in my experience most collectors at their peak will top out with a maximum per-item spend of between $10,000 and $20,000. Certainly, many collectors will never spend less than $100 on the most valuable addition to their collection, while others will spend no less than $100,000 on an individual coin or note. $10k seems to be a figure that gives me an indicator of the upper end of the market at the moment.

Segment by segment, this is how IAG’s 82nd auction panned out:

Pre-Federation Banknotes:

Despite recent auctions, there was some movement in the notes in this auction. This may well be because the auctioneer had the courage to acknowledge where the market is at right now, with respect to clearance rates and prices realised. Other auctioneers have stubbornly tried for prices that have been clearly higher than the market average in recent months, which has heavily reduced their clearance rates. Does that mean that sellers shouldn’t punch a figurative wall when they see items sell for what many old-time collectors would regard as cents in the dollar? No, however an auctioneer  needs to acknowledge reality if they want to match buyers with sellers, and in the main, that’s what happened in this sale. Certain notes didn’t find a home, however any rudimentary check of why shows the reserve dictated that result.

Australian Pre-Decimal Banknotes:

This section of the auction really only needs a 1-word description - active. Notes on every price level got away, ranging from rarer items at the upper end of the market, right down to average circulated notes at the lower end. This was perhaps the first area of the market to drop off following the GFC / Pettit and Rare Coin Company liquidation spree, and it seems it’s been among the quickest to find a base. The only exception to this rule were the Australian pre-decimal specimen notes - in my opinion, even though prices have come back significantly in this segment of the market, and even though sellers are not only punching figurative doors, they’re also kicking figurative dogs, reserves needs to come back even further if buyers are to come to the table...

Australian Star Replacement Banknotes:

While to some it’s odd that these notes would have their own category, the fact remains that some collectors specialise in these notes alone, prices of them can move quite independent of other notes in the Australian pre-decimal series. Price activity in this sale shows they’re liquid within the current price range. The prices I saw items sell for weren’t outside the range of prices I’ve seen comparable notes sell for in recent months.

Australian Decimal Specimen Banknotes:

Again, some collectors specialise collect specimen notes only, which is why I’ve isolated them from the other note results. Much like the pre-decimal star replacement notes, the sales results in this segment of the market were within the range established, as someone that rates them and was an active bidder in this sale, I begrudgingly concede results here were perhaps slightly stronger than expected.

Australian Gold Coins:

There were 3 Type II Adelaide Pounds in this sale - 1 in circulated grade, the other 2 in premium condition. Results in this sale were in direct contrast to the broader market in recent months - the more affordable coin was passed in, while the other 2 coins got away. If you’d asked me for a forecast before the sale what the results would have been (and a few collectors did), I would have (and did) state the opposite to that result. I’ve seen liquidity in the lower end of the market for these coins, however the reserve here was slightly higher than the market average for recent sales of comparable coins, which explains why it didn’t sell. The other 2 coins however really were a surprise - the only mint state or better Adelaide Pounds to sell in recent months / years have been around half of the prices achieved in this sale. I don’t believe half is too conservative a ratio either, so I reckon the vendors of these coins should be well pleased with themselves.

Holey Dollars and Dumps:

One of the real benefits of a down market is it’s a time for folks that've saved their money to get in and grab some bargains. The cheaper coin in this sale really was a bargain in my opinion - how long has it been since we were able to buy a genuine Holey Dollar with a history for less than $35,000? (Hint, it’s been some time). That the better coin (good VF) sold as well is a great indicator of the breadth of the demand for these incredibly historic coins. The cheaper dump sold as well, while the Dump that had a little more meat on it was passed in.

Pre-Decimal Proof, Pattern and Specimen Coins:

Check over the sales results for this segment of the catalogue and you’ll see the results weren’t fantastic - the great news is that the liquidity was far better than we’ve seen in other auctions recently, however the prices realised weren’t great, if compared to what such coins would have brought just 3-5 years ago. We don’t live in a world of if, so my opinion is that if subsequent auctions price their pre-decimal proofs within the range we saw here, we will have found a bottom to the market. This of course means most KGVI copper proofs are now retailing for less than $12,500, which will lead some vendors to wonder just why they bought their items in the first place...

I did see some exceptions to the rule here - I saw a few archival-standard coins get passed in at levels I thought were too low, indicating to me there is really a lot of value on the table for buyers that have confidence in this area of the market.

Australian Pre-Decimal Coins:

This was another active area - the clearance rate was pretty good, and good coins sold for good money. Each of the key dates offered up got away, showing this market continues to tick over. I should point out that there weren’t really any condition-rarituy coins included in this sale, as determined by PCGS anyway. That sector of the market I understand has less “gas” in it at the moment, however that should be hardly surprising given how far they grew in recent years.

Australian Error Coins and Tradesman’s Tokens:

Both of these fields are (mainly) populated by collectors that know nothing of the other segment - token collectors leave errors alone, while the inverse applies equally. That said, the results in this sale were the same for both segments. If there was an error coin or token that hadn’t been seen for some time (either by virtue of it’s quality or type), it was chased. If it had, it wasn’t. (Yes, that is actually a sentence I just typed!)

PCGS-Graded Australian Decimal Coins:

This has been a really fertile are of the market for some time now. Just how fertile? To give you some idea, there was a 1966 proof set in this sale that made more than $3,000… For those of you older collectors that haven’t kept up with this trend, yes - there are 3 zeroes in that figure. Higher than average quality PCGS decimal coins have been bringing strong money for some time, I expect this auction result was the first in the broader numismatic market that confirms that.

Overall, this really was a breakout auction - there was more activity in this sale than we’ve seen for some time, particularly at the upper end of the market.

Fingers crossed it carries on into the Sydney ANDA Show and the remaining auctions for 2015!

Category: Market News