WHILE London auctions saw a 25% rise in value for 2011, sales outside the capital have also been growing.
Sworder's of Stansted
Mountficthet in Essex dipped their toes in the numismatic world for
the first time with a dedicated sale on March 12. The catalogue, a
very glossy number, was as well produced as any from the London
The 906 lots ranged from the ancient world until
modern times. What's more, every lot sold to total £730,000, enough
to make the London rooms jealous and surely a record for a coin
sale outside the capital in the UK.
Being in the provinces was certainly no
impediment to the attendance in the room. There were buyers from
mainland Europe and even from Russia. Perhaps we are seeing into
the future of coin auctions in the UK.
Appropriately, as the Ides of March approached,
there was a gold aureus of the commemorative issue of the
assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. Described as a 19th
century copy and carrying an estimate of £500-1000, the cataloguer
noted that the coin had been shown to both the Fitzwilliam Museum
and the British Museum but made no further comment.
Even in silver this is a very rare coin - there
are many copies - and the gold examples have only come to light
during the last generation.
The catalogue stated that only two examples are
known and that one of these may be a copy, as was the one on offer
here. About 60 examples of the denarius are recorded.
It sold at £2900 to a continental buyer.
The last decade has seen the Japanese develop a
tremendous increased interest in their own coins. Sworders offered
a rare Japanese 20 yen bearing the date 1870 and carrying an
estimate of £12,000-15,000. It sold for £29,000.
The Russians have been assiduous in buying back
their pre-revolutionary history in recent years. Here a six-rouble
of 1830 attracted especial interest as it was one of the first
coins ever struck in platinum. Estimated at £10,000-15,000, it took
Just before Sworders' sale,
Fellows of Birmingham held a 334-lot sale on
February 27. The auctioneers did not publish a sale total but did
disclose that the highest bid of the day was the £5000 (estimate
£4000-6000) for a group of ten late 19th/early 20th century
football medals won by one Albert Evans playing for Aston Villa.
Later in life, after much world travelling, he returned as a coach
On leap year day (February 29) it was the turn
of Mellors and Kirk of Nottingham to hold a
677-lot sale. This was a useful dispersal for a goodly number of
low-value coins. Low value they may have been, but the total of
£85,380 is surely useful. Top price was the £720 paid for three
Queen Victoria sovereigns (1853, 1864 and 1872).
There were also 117 lots of ancient coins
followed by 90 lots of mainly English coins before the time (1664)
when coins were machine-struck rather than "hammered" on an
Mellors and Kirk published a catalogue online
rather than in print. Expect to see this become a more common
practice as postage rates soar. The email for accessing their
catalogues is email@example.com and it could well be
worth tuning in from time to time.
Still on technology, most coin sales worldwide
can now be found on www.sixbid.com. It allows you to send a
specified lot number to a colleague or print out its details as
well as leave a bid. This saves an awful lot in shelf space and
postal costs for auction houses.
Carlisle auctioneers Thompson,
Roddick & Medcalf have held coin and medal sales for
quite some years. Their March 15 sale was successful as usual. One
of the treasures sold was a Scottish James III (1484-88) gold
unicorn. Estimated at £1800-2200, it found a new home at £2700.
Some serious coins are now being offered outside
London. I look forward to seeing more of them.