Dropping auction prices?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by chaparralian, Aug 8, 2022.

  1. chaparralian

    chaparralian Active Member

    I sent CNG 5 coins for auction this month. Four sold for 1/3rd of the price I had purchased them in previous auctions (Roma, CNG, etc.) over the past three years (the 5th coin didn't sell). One in particular surprised me because it was a beautiful coin, but the the CNG image just didn't let that come through to my eyes. See below (first photo was from previous purchase - Roma Numismatics on 2/2021).

    So for this coin, the winning bid was $190. Really disappointing. Has anyone else noticed some significant price drops, or is this just an example of the summer blue light special?

    Q. Antonius Balbus. 83-82 BC. AR Serrate Denarius (18mm, 3.65 g, 6h). Rome mint.

    Juniper.jpg Jupiter II.png
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  3. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Prices to me seem to be treading water overall. True, summer is always a slow time in auctions and coins in general, so that always could have something to do with it. I think CNG did a great job of photography on your coin, the bottom photo is much improved over the top one. I don't know RR really well though, so cannot comment on your particular coin, though my impression is its a great coin for $190.
  4. scarborough

    scarborough Well-Known Member

    While I can understand the OP's disappointment, I try to keep my perspective by considering ancients as a hobby rather than speculation in assets which have ever increasing prices. Recently I auctioned a denarius for a considerable loss that I purchased, also at auction, from CNG decades ago. In my direct experience losses are more frequent than profit!
  5. chaparralian

    chaparralian Active Member

    Yes, I collect these gems purely for enjoyment. But this little auction adventure was to unload a few coins I'd either decided didn't meet my standards or didn't fit with my collection focus anymore... and to get some extra cash to pick up some other coins I've wanted.

    Of the 4 I sold, this one was really a beautiful work of art, so I was hoping others would see it that way too.
    Carl Wilmont likes this.
  6. Limes

    Limes Well-Known Member

    I understand your disappointment. I do however think one cant conclude on the basis of one sale that prices in auctions are, overall, dropping. Yesterday 's Naumann auction showed some strong prices. Then again, it varies per categorie, per coin, and per auction.

    In hindsight, which is unfortunately of no use to you anymore, i'd suggest trying not to sell in the summer period. I think that might be of influence too. Lovely coin though, and i too think the CNG photos are better.
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  7. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    I see auction prices are going up. The only time I see a low one is when something out of the ordinary happens, like vacations or a holiday. If people are busy then the auction takes a back seat as there’s always going to be another one next month.
    chaparralian likes this.
  8. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Well-Known Member

    I have been collecting for close to 50 years and one would think that with that level of experience I would be able to work out what one of my coins will do at auction. I have been sending coins out for auction for the last 5 years and am often amazed at the results. A few go nuts. Some coins do really well others simply...crash and burn. Auctions are at best a crap shoot. There are simply too many variables to take into account. I had a decent denarius of Maximinus Thrax good reverse, That particular auction had three of them result; down in flames. I put an Athenian Owl just as the giant hoard started coming in. Result Not so good. Barely broke even. Then there is the dreaded ugly picture. One of my coins took a picture that was so bad... I could not believe it was my coin. At that moment I knew it would die and it did, a horrible lingering death,
    Overall I see prices for ancient coins being very strong. That is at least for the ones I am trying to bid on. I cannot say anything about the five coins tht did poorly. However I will say that at some point I do plan to put my collection up for auction. I have resigned myself to the fact that any coin I have purchased in the previous 10 years before selling my collection I will be lucky to break even.
    Something to look at
    Denarius of Faustus Cornelius Sulla 56 BC Obv Bust of Venus right Rv Three military trophies Crawford 426/3 RBW 1528 3.72 grms 20 mm Photo by W. Hansen 426-c.jpg The reverse commemorates Sulla's victories on three continents. Europe Africa and Asia.
    DonnaML, svessien, Jovian363 and 7 others like this.
  9. arnoldoe

    arnoldoe Well-Known Member

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  10. Cherd

    Cherd Junior Member Supporter

    I only buy slabbed coins, so Heritage is unfortunately my only source for reliably cyclic auctions. I've been pretty stand-offish the last couple of years because I can't stand the idea of buying a coin for twice what it woulda cost 4 years ago.

    I still scour the auctions with the intent to participate, and my ritual involves plotting sales trends of the coin/grade that I'm interested in winning. What I've noticed is that prices have definitely been at least plateauing in 2022. I also find the occasional coin that dips below the expected value, evidenced by the fact that I've actually started picking up a couple of coins lately.

    And then there is the occasional trend that seems to indicate that prices may be dropping, like the trend below that popped out when plotting up Vespasian Ch VFs. I generate the plots by removing all obvious outliers and calculating moving averages to limit the number of sequential points to 6 per year (Or leave gaps when there are less than 6 in a year).


    This seems to indicate promising things for people looking for prices to drop! ;)

    From what I've been able to tell, lower quality/common coins have been dropping recently while higher quality/rarer coins are plateauing. I only track Roman Imperials though, so I don't really have a feel for whether these trends hold for Roman Republic or other categories of ancients.
  11. Curtis

    Curtis Supporter! Supporter

    Good catch! Whether the currency conversion was made in 2018 or today, the coin appreciated by 40% in 4 years after inflation. Not a bad return.

    If it sold for triple in the meantime, that's the sale price I would consider the unusual of the three data points.

    (I tried the calculation converting GBP to USD at both times, in 2018 or in 2022, using the top search result on Google, the result was almost identical.)
  12. Curtis

    Curtis Supporter! Supporter

    Interesting, thank you for sharing the data. I've tried to gather data over a similar period (2015-2021) for Lysimachos Tetradrachms but limiting it to examples that have sold twice at least 18 months apart, and found a similar increase (usually 2-3X, virtually none sold for less after 2019). I think I found somewhere around 20 or 30.

    Of course, there are obvious methodological challenges the either approach, but since no one's developed any ideal ways to test price trends for ancients, the best way to address the issue is by triangulating with different kinds of data and seeing if they tend to agree.

    [See EDIT in maroon below] What I collected wasn't fine grained enough to notice seasonal patterns. But I notice from your plot, just impressionistically, it seems like there's a drop every summer. That would fit the prevailing wisdom. (Of course, it's possible that similar coins with less tangible differences, sell at different times. E.g., Maybe those of the finest style and greatest eye appeal are the ones that get put it in the high-profile January auctions.)

    [EDIT: Per clarification below, the data don't reflect seasonal changes. Nonetheless, very useful and glad they were shared!]
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2022
  13. Cherd

    Cherd Junior Member Supporter

    There are certainly a lot of factors that are not tracked in my analyses. I just want a nice looking bust coin of each person of interest in the best shape that I can reasonably afford. So, I'm not in the market for rare reverses, Fine Style, perfect centering/flan size, etc, etc. That being the case, I tend to remove these types of sales in what I called "Outliers". For instance, if the sales for a year are 100, 120, 120, 140, 500, 140, then I simply remove the 500 (Something special about it, but I don't care).

    My plot is also misleading in that, while the sales did occur sequentially in each of the years, the individual points don't necessarily plot at the correct spot within the year. For instance, if the only coins for the year were all sold in January-March, then the data would still be spread out and moving averaged over the year. So, any "seasonal" information gleaned from my plot is probably not truly representative.
    Curtis likes this.
  14. chaparralian

    chaparralian Active Member

    Thanks for all the data points. I love it when hard evidence can be placed on a graph. If there is a downward trend or at least leveling off, I'll be happy as there are 4-5 coins I've wanted, but can't justify the prices - a Pescennius Niger coin that looks relatively decent, for example.
    Cherd likes this.
  15. chaparralian

    chaparralian Active Member

    PS Beautiful Sulla coin!
  16. Cherd

    Cherd Junior Member Supporter

    No problem. I spend more time than I probably should compiling the information, it's a bonus when others find it useful!

    You and me both! Heck, with exception of Severus, I still need all of the "Year of the 5 Emperors" guys. As a group, their auctions always seem to end at least one bid higher than I'm willing to go :banghead:
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  17. Limes

    Limes Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your interesting graph! I hope prices are dropping, indeed, and graphs like yours help provide useful general insights I think.
    When it comes to comparing prices of individual coins, I do think that one has to take into account the variation in desirability of the reverses as well. A VF Iudaea Capta is a whole different coin than e.g. a coin with the emperor seated on the reverse, I think. When it comes to comparing prices, I decide my max, by looking up the prices realised of comparable specimens. This method makes it difficult to come to a general conclusion of the level of precies, though.
    Cherd likes this.
  18. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    I did notice at the last Leu sale my bids all got blow out of the water by hundreds, rather than thousands of dollars.

    Just be glad you didn't sell on ebay! This one will haunt me for years to come Screenshot_20220809-091525_eBay.jpg
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  19. Cherd

    Cherd Junior Member Supporter

    Ya, Ebay definitely isn't the place to sell raw coins. It doesn't take much effort to learn that Ebay is a minefield of forgeries when it comes to ancients. I personally don't touch them with a 10 ft pole, and I think most semi-knowledgeable ancients collectors probably feel the same way. Downside is that when a quality coin is listed, it doesn't tend to get much traction :(
  20. chaparralian

    chaparralian Active Member

    This is a wonderful discussion. A ray of hope in a world filled with not so pleasant arguments. Thanks to everyone for providing insight. This experience has reminded me once again, no matter what you may hear, read, or suppose, nothing comes close to actual experience to embed an important lesson.

    Over the last three years, after "discovering" Roman, then Greek, then the whole of the Mediterranean histories (something I completely missed in my American education), collecting ancient coins has been an incredible journey of enlightenment. They accent the books I have read and the people I have met through reading. As I become inspired by a person or an event, I do the research to discover if there is an ancient coin that is somehow connected.

    For example, Elagabalus' stone of Emesa in that chariot of his with the parasols! The samples I've seen have all been well beyond my price range. So, there's one coin I'm definitely waiting for. Saw a gold one once. Wow! In this life though, I'll need to settle with silver :)

    Stone of Emesa.jpg
  21. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Once you learn ancients, it isn't hard to navigates those "minefields". Some of my best buys and coins have come from ebay.

    BUT, since Covid, the deals are few and far between.
    philologus_1 and Factor like this.
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