Fantastic Coins and Where to Find Them

Well, you can find fantastic coins here, actually. Simply scroll past the painstakingly written but completely uninformative articles below and have a go at them.

Idea: Sell Your Stuff At Auction and Receive 10,000 Times What You Were Told Was Worth

Late last month in Switzerland, a Chinese vase that was estimated to be worth between $500 and $800 actually sold at auction for $5.1 million. Must be the brilliant work by that auction house to bring out such aggressive bidding, right?

Um, not really.

That incident reminded me of a similar situation here in Connecticut a few years back. A local antiques auction house had a $2.50 Liberty gold coin that they estimated at around $500. It actually sold for over $60,000 (I remember, because I was an underbidder).

The ridiculous part of the Connecticut auction house story was that for years afterward the auction house used that as an example in their advertising of the “strong prices” they generate at their sales.

What it actually tells me is that both those auction houses had no clue what they were selling. They likely have let other really desirable objects sell for way under their market value over the years due to their lack of competence.

It will be interesting to see if the Swiss auction house uses that result in their marketing. I suspect they will.

PS: Apropos of nothing – as this e-newsletter was going to press it has been reported that a record $37.7 million has been paid at Sotheby’s for a tiny dish from the Northern Song dynasty. Looking remarkably like a plain, light green cereal bowl to the untrained eye [i.e. to my eye], this is a record price for any Chinese ceramic.

A Book Recommendation from a Sister Hobby

I love books. I devour them at the rate of almost one per year.

Ok, so I’m no speed reader. But when I come across a book that might interest my fellow coin collectors I want to let them know. This book is called, “Art Collecting Today”, by Doug Woodham.

This book might not be obviously geared toward coin collectors. We numismatists feel that our problems, passions and pleasures are unique to us and to our hobby. But that is simply not the case.

They say that Leonardo Da Vinci’s genius was his ability to see similarities and patterns across very different areas such as physics, art and biology. Maybe he had a few other things going for him too, but you get the idea.

The art world has many parallels to our own. Mr Woodham interviewed nearly 100 collectors, lawyers, art advisors, gallerists, and auction specialists in the United States and Europe.

He discusses the promoted areas, the trophy collectors, the condition issues, the pricing, the areas that became popular and then faded into semi-obscurity, and so on.

He discusses whether prices are more favorable at dealerships or at auction houses. He also proposes strategies for bidding at auction and other intriguing questions that pertain to both art and coin collecting. It is disarmingly honest, well written and extensively footnoted.

I found the wisdom from long time art collectors can help numismatists as well. Often their experiences collecting art were funny, and sometimes poignant too.

You can buy it on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. And if you mention my name, you will get zero percent off, as no one knows who the heck I am.