If there's one thing that auctions have over other methods of sale, it's that they turn the sale of a collection into an event. A well-managed auction can draw a crowd, induce excitement and build anticipation like no other method can.
The Millennia Collection, an auction conducted last week in Beverley Hills (LA, California, USA) by Goldberg & Goldberg, is one such event that's happened recently. This sale, described by the auctioneers as "A World-Class Collection of over 1000 Ancient and World Coins", and if you've visited the website or were wise enough to purchase the catalogs, you'll agree that it certainly lived up to the bill. At the time of writing, the price realized for this collection was a mammoth US$23,024,765!
The sale was divided into three sections: The New World, which also includes Asian, African and Australian coins, an ancient Greek and Roman section that also includes Anglo-Saxon issues, and a European section that includes late medieval pieces to 19th century issues. I haven't heard the full story about who put this amazing collection together, why they did so or what their theme was, however it certainly ended up as being one of the finest collections of world coins to come to the market in recent years.
In what was a superb piece of pre-sale marketing, Ira and Larry Goldberg were honored with the Numismatic Literary Guild's Best Specialized Book Award for World Coin News in 2007 for "Money of the World: Coins That Made History", a full-color coffee table book featuring coins from the Millennia Collection. The book in and of itself is an excellent numismatic effort, to the degree that it illustrates how many coins were shaped by the development of Western Civilization, and how they sometimes helped shape it in turn.
I've long believed that there is more to the appeal of any coin or note than just it's rarity or beauty - this book and auction really serves as a benchmark for the way in which any significant collection should be honoured and dispersed.