Status International Auction 255 - Another Solid Result
The results of the Status International Auction #255 are in, and it looks to be another solid result. Total turnover was over $1.5 million (not bad for an afternoon's work!) from a little over 4,000 lots. I counted less than 10 lots with a hammer price greater than $10,000, which gives us an idea of just how much activity there was in this auction!
Status always has a depth of stock in the areas of world coins & notes, bulk lots of everything you might care to name, as well as stacks of decimal NCLT. With their trading history going back several decades and a network of retail offices across three states, they obviously are either consigned or purchase everything from Holey Dollars to bulk lots of halfpennies - it's the more expensive end of the market that is followed most keenly by the trade.
This auction included another range of coins recovered from the Dutch shipwrecks off the WA coast, and as just 1 of 20 odd lots sold, it appears that the market for them is either limited at the price levels these coins were offered at or they require a lot more "marketing" in order to attract buyers. This should be hardly surprising given their complexity - many collectors just can't get their heads around them.
No such fear in the area of colonial & proclamation coinage - over 100 lots of various colonial coins were offered up (far more than you'll see in most auctions or dealer tables), and the clearance rate was high indeed. My experience with collectors in this area tells me that most people that collect proclamation coins aren't chasing profits as their primary objective, they're far more interested in accumulating items that tell part of the story of Australia's colonial economy. They're careful with their disposable income and add to their collections bit by bit, and are in it for the long haul. What this means is that there is always demand in the market for attractive coins, as evidenced here.
There wasn't much in the way of rarities or top quality items in the gold sovereigns and halves that were offered here, so don't place a huge amount of weight on the results here as a commentary on this segment of the market at the moment.
The Commonwealth / pre-decimal coin section in this sale was dominated by the inclusion of a date set of pennies, clearly put together by a collector that had an eye for the rarer varieties in high grade. This was the main reason I was disappointed at not being able to attend this sale, as a number of the coins included haven't been seen in high grade either ever or for many, many years! Penny collectors that have entered the market lately via eBay will be aware that varieties such as the 1919 double dot, 1920 double dot and 1920 Indian plain are pretty much only ever seen in heavily worn condition, yet each was in this sale in mint state or close to it.
Values for true numismatic rarities such as these really are determined by what the bidders on the day are prepared to pay - how can a catalogue hope to predict just what that might be? Having said that, I was surprised that the results weren't stronger. There must be a few penny collectors out there quietly satisfied with the prices paid for those coins! Just when they'll turn up again in equivalent or better condition is anyone's guess.The 1925 penny (listed as Gem Unc) was the most valuable item in the set, it made $43,105 including commission, maintaining the strong market for this date in high grade.
Results in the silver weren't as comprehensive as in the pennies, perhaps reflecting more on the opinions on value of the bidders on the day than on the coins themselves. The reserves for the four 1922/1 overdate threepences were set relatively high in my opinion, and as such only one of the four sold. Easily the highlight of the silver coinage in this sale was the 1921 star shilling - listed as Choice Unc with an estimate of $12,000, it made $20,000 hammer which indicates spirited bidding indeed! There are a number of very dedicated Commonwealth collectors out there that are prepared to go all out in order to get the finest examples of the rarest coins, this result is confirmation of that fact.
The decimal coins included a wavy baseline 20¢ coin in premium condition - it made what has to be a new auction high of $2,912.50 nett - not bad at all for a 20¢ coin! I believe that this is an excellent rarity to put away for the long term, one that will appeal to the younger generation of collectors entering the market at present. The pre-decimal proof section here obviously included a complete set from one vendor, plus a range of duplicates. The 1955 Perth pair and 1956 Perth penny were the first seen in a while, and made prices accordingly. All of the other QEII pre-decimal proofs in this sale that were attractive and problem-free were keenly contested, I expect many of them will make their way into PCGS holders!
There was an abundance of tradesman's tokens in this sale - some 250 odd lots of single items and bulk lots. Although the high value items didn't get away, most token collector's don't chase top quality anyway (beggars can't be choosers and just to get an example of some tokens is an achievement in itself!), so the high clearance rate is evidence that this segment of the market remains strong.
The banknotes were another story altogether however, not that we should tar all collectible bits of paper with the same brush! On a positive note, each of the the serious pre-federation notes in this sale found buyers, albeit only at around their estimate. The auctioneers clearly gave instructions to the vendors of pre-decimal notes in this sale that they needed to be realistic about their expectations, as many of the reserves / estimates in this section of the sale were quite low relative to current catalogue values for correctly graded items. It wasn't unusual to see an estimate set at 40% to 50% of catalogue value for a note in this sale! Clearance rates were still patchy, and those notes that did sell (rarities / high grade notes included) made figures quite low relative to catalogue value. If this trend continues, and in the absence of any random factors chaning things radically, I expect that it will, this opens up the field of pre-decimal notes wide open to collectors to be able to build collections of really attractive notes literally for a fraction of what they were trading for a few short years ago. Understandably not many among us are prepared to sail into a strong breeze, but history has shown that collectors with a bit of brass and a disregard for the thundering herd are often the ones that do the best financially over the long term.