Featured Estimates for Ancient Coin Auctions

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by MSG 78, May 20, 2020.

  1. nicholasz219

    nicholasz219 Well-Known Member

    I think @rrdenarius makes a great point. If starting prices (based on estimate of course) are high, I just move on.
    rrdenarius likes this.
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  3. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    What you missed is CNG sold that coin for the ridiculous price and it appeared shortly thereafter in the stock of a dealer at 1/3 the listed CNG sale price. Certainly the coin is a terrible specimen but most of the Carausius coins for Diocletian have poor centering and bad surfaces. CNG lists having sold only a half dozen of these over the Internet years with most being better and cheaper. The point was that estimates are worthless but an acceptable starting price is clear unless you are using hidden reserves so the actual acceptable start price is not revealed.
    nicholasz219 likes this.
  4. MSG 78

    MSG 78 Active Member

    I don't think the coin in question was reserved??? We rarely reserve much any more as we don't like it either. I can't ever recall us placing a reserve on a Carausius. Do you know the sale/lot number? I can check but I have no explanation for what you are describing. We don't let consignors bid up their own coins either. It creates a false sale record if they buy it back in.
    Restitutor and Orfew like this.
  5. KeviniswhoIam

    KeviniswhoIam Active Member

    I feel somewhat responsible for this thread, as earlier I had created a post questioning auction estimates:


    I most certainly meant no disrespect to CNG in the least, nor did I mean to question their expertise. My post simply came out of ignorance, due to the fact that I am a new ancient collector, and still learning!

    As I watch these auctions, and bid, and sometimes actually win (!), I was ignorant to the fact that they are wholesale estimates. Since I am new, well, I don't have a great grasp on values, so, when I see coins hammer at 2x, 3x, 5x, 10x the estimate, it had me curious, and that's it! My dealings with CNG have been nothing but stellar in quick delivery of won product, easy payment, and prompt response when I had a question. So, meant no detriment to CNG in the least.

    This process in ancients for me has gone on for maybe 6 or 7 months, though I have collected for 45 years or so (US coinage). I became dismayed at what I saw going on with pricing and affordability, especially once the TPG's got involved. And then the investment concerns....that all had been covered ad nauseum here, so I wont belabor it.

    Into ancients......I am learning Greek and Roman history, and can cause most mere mortals eyes glaze over in boredom in minutes by talking about emperors, etc. I am fascinated that these coins might be in such relatively good condition after THOUSANDS of years! What stories would they tell, could they tell?

    When I peruse these auction catalogs, I see a coin I like, look at the estimate, maybe bid, but more importantly, decide what I would pay for it. It might be rare, etc, but if I don't like it, Im not bidding, or even watching it. Sometimes I watch things just to see how high they will go....especially some of that Greek Gold. wow.

    Anyhow, I never thought I'd pay that much for a silver coin.....cant wait to see it.

    Happy hunting!
  6. Restitutor

    Restitutor New Member

    On the CNG Terms of Use it says consignors can bid on their own coins, quote below from the electronic auction section.

    “2. The property in this auction is offered for sale by CNG for itself and as agent for other consignors. We reserve the right to prohibit any bidder from participating in the auction, to reject any bid, to determine the opening price, to set bidding increments, to withdraw any lot, to bid on behalf of CNG, and to permit the consignor to bid on his own lots.

    Emphasis mine. If the new policy now prohibits that, that would be truly a wonderful thing!
    Nicholas Molinari and svessien like this.
  7. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Actually, it doesn't say that consignors can bid on their own coins. It says that CNG reserves the right to permit them to do so. From what MSG 78 says, they haven't given such permission.
    svessien likes this.
  8. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    I am sure there is lots of good science on the subject, and I am only informed by personal experience. The more I think about it the more I think: if it's working don't mess with it. Other things that attract sellers and buyers are more likely have an impact on auction success vs. adjusting estimate and opening bid formulas. CNG has the expertise to know what the coins are worth - that is what I value most.

    I will also say, thanks for engaging on CT and for the Research materials that frequently bring me to your site, which inevitably leads to checking the latest coins listed....
    Carl Wilmont and Alegandron like this.
  9. Restitutor

    Restitutor New Member

    Ah gotcha, but I think it should be clearly stated on auctions whether that permission has been granted or not, as not everyone checks out CT :)

    I have always thought, and I know many others I talk to have thought thus, that the wording of that meant consignors were in fact bidding on their own coins at their discretion.
  10. MSG 78

    MSG 78 Active Member

    It's to protect us. These terms were written by a lawyer. Do consignors bid on their own lots? Sure, on occasion. And we try to delete them unless there are specific agreements in place that would allow an exception. There are a few valid reasons this happens that I doubt most would object to (although inevitably someone will complain). For example, We often get in consignments where the consignor would like to keep one, or sometimes several, coins for their family as heirlooms. As you can imagine, if they are selling their collection it likely means there are no collectors in the family. They ask if they can buy back one, or a few, coins to give to their family. They don't particularly care which coins or they would have pulled them before they gave us the consignment. So, generally, they watch for coins going cheap and bid and just buy it, or them, back. No ill will intended and hopefully none taken.

    What we seriously try to prevent is coins that come in without reserves and then have the consignor try to bid them up - essentially creating a reserve. (Reserves are another subject and something we generally only see with high priced coins in print sales). And even worse, this can create a false sales history. I am dead set against that. Can this get by us? Yes. Usually when the bid is placed at the last second. A good reason to have that clause in the terms....
  11. abc123

    abc123 Member

    Thank you for your participation in this discussion group and providing some additional insight into CNG’s practices, @MSG 78 (Mike). I have followed CNG auctions for many years and have been a successful bidder in a couple of them :) I’ve often felt the CNG auction estimates were too low compared to final hammer but your explanation now puts the estimate in the proper context. For what it is worth I would not change a thing. The current system of setting an estimate as you do and starting bid based on 60% of that value is a successful system. If it ain't broke, don’t fix it.

    I’ll also echo the sentiments shared before that CNG is one of the premier auction houses. The coin quality, informative descriptions, historical notes, clear photos, conservative grading, calling out of coin issues (smoothing, tooling, etc), customer service, online research archive, etc. all have cemented a positive reputation in the industry. I hope you continue to build upon this legacy in the years to come.
    Carl Wilmont, Sulla80 and Orfew like this.
  12. Restitutor

    Restitutor New Member

    Make sense! Thank you! And reading your example and imagining myself in that situation, I am glad that having that clause would allow a family member to bid!
  13. Limes

    Limes Well-Known Member

    I really find it healthy for the hobby - and my involvement in the hobby - to see that professional sellers share their thoughts and considerations with their audience, bidders and buyers. Thank you for that.

    Agreed. Even though I try to avoid auction houses in the US, the principle in Europe is the same.
    I wonder however, because a higher estimate and starting price are also a way to attract the high-end buyers/bidders, and scare off the scavengers (like me). And what is the effect on consignors? I do not know.
    Unrealistic estimates (eg a VF denarius of Augustus with an estimate of 100 EUR) are also a waiste of digital space. I tend not to look at estimates, generally speaking, but research prices realized and consider my options.
    My image of CNG is that the target audience is more high-end, so to say. Which is ofcourse fine, and no judgement in any way. I can imagine a proper use of the starting/estimate price is - besides other things ofcourse - part of the image of an auction house.
    Restitutor likes this.
  14. MSG 78

    MSG 78 Active Member

    We obviously like to think we offer "high end" coins. But when consignments come in, they often have lower value coins because most collectors collect by series. Inevitably those series aren't complete without including lower cost coins. Those coins tend to perform better in electronic sales where everyone expects the value of the coins to be lower. As you indirectly state, you don't look at a CNG print catalog if you are looking for lower priced coins. I think this is true for most auction houses who offer print sale and electronic sale formats. Here's my tip for the day - look at print sale catalogs to find lower value coins and keep an eye on them. Often they go cheap because the only people who look at print catalogs are the ones looking to add rare, and thus higher priced, coins to their collection.

    Why do cheap coins get into print sale catalogs? Because the consignor insists on it. They are convinced the print format will generate more interest and higher prices. For low value coins this often isn't true. And at the same time, it makes no sense to put a $10,000 coin in an electronic sale. It's the wrong place for that type of coin.

    Placing coins in the right sale is much like buying coins in the right place. It's an art...
  15. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    One of the wonderful things about this hobby is the sometime ability to find nice coins at a good price. Also it is a good feeling to participate in an auction even though your chances at winning at the price you can afford are not good. Pricing coins is, of course, not an exact science but if you have been in the hobby long enough you get a good idea of what the range of prices should be, at least within your specialty. On the other hand, it is depressing to go to an auction and find that even opening bids are out of reach to the point of being unreasonable.
    There are some European auction houses that start at high retail and I do not bother with them - who needs it when there are plenty of others? (of course when they offer a coin in my specialty I bite the bullet and bid).

    I consign coins as well, and have no problem if the coins start out at a lower price than retail whatever that is. There are still enough collectors so that good coins almost invariably are sold for a reasonable price so no worries.

    Not to digress (well it is a digression) but there HAS been an enormous fall off in the number of collectors. It does not seem to have affected the price of coins in better grades and rarity - perhaps the opening of auctions to a larger market through the internet delayed the impact but it would be great if there was a way to reverse this trend - although how you do that I have no idea.
    Restitutor and Agricantus like this.
  16. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    I am sometimes floored at end prices of common coins on European auctions - I wish I recall specific examples. I watched much of a European auction not too long ago, and the prices on some of the common coins were truly absurd - the buyers could have bought the same for far less on VCOINS, a platform not known for inexpensive pricing. Are these inexperienced collectors drawn in by the bidding? What else could it be? - I had never seen anything like it.
  17. Agricantus

    Agricantus Allium aflatunense

    Maybe the feeling of being a winner, ahead of the competition? No such feeling on ma-shops or vcoins.
    Restitutor likes this.
  18. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I really have been trying not to ask this since I assume if you wanted us to know we would by now:

    How does what you said in the above quote relate to the AK collection that started in Triton XX? I bought two lots for a total over $9k and a number of the 59 coins included in those lots were as good as those offered singly in regular CNG sales. The lots were not just lumped in a pile but CNG even printed a separate catalog (which I was unable to obtain) with every coin listed and imaged separately (although the style did not match the usual language so I wondered if the listings were provided rather than written in-house). There were a few coins (Alexandrian) that were listed in Emmett as R5 (1-2 known to him) but not even these rated a single listing. Do understand that I am glad those were not listed separately because I would not have won them. What is the backstory?
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  19. MSG 78

    MSG 78 Active Member

    The AK collection was a consignment that was negotiated before I took ownership of CNG. It was a rather unique consignment. The collector insisted on writing the lot descriptions; insisted it be formatted and lot sorted the way he wanted; and insisted the catalog be available in a printed format (although only 100 copies were requested to be made). It was an interesting experience because we had to check his cataloging from start to finish. It was an amazing collection with really strong collector support. I am not in Lancaster at the moment but I can check and see if I can find a copy of the limited run catalog for you.
  20. MSG 78

    MSG 78 Active Member

    Me too - floored. I used to look at a lot of the smaller European auctions to see if maybe I could pick up a coin or two for stock. It rarely happens any more. Even the smaller auction firms are generating strong prices. And many of these coins are ones that might sit in a US dealers inventory for months on end. The market in the past year or so has been strong everywhere. I hope this is a sign of the ancient coin field having some growth. But I often think to myself, I wonder how disenchanted this or that buyer will be when they find no one will offer them anywhere near what they just paid for a coin. I especially worry about this with high grade but incredibly common slabbed coins that sell for multiples of what they are worth to uninformed buyers.
    Carl Wilmont, Orfew, svessien and 2 others like this.
  21. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Thank you very much both for the answer and the offer. I would love a paper copy if such exists. I have the regular Triton XX book. I had no idea that a firm the size of CNG would allow that sort of input from even a special collection. I bought the two lots I did because each contained one coin I wanted (although there were others I was happy to have). That should prove that even bottom feeders like me are as strange as the billionaire crowd that buys whatever they want.
    Valentinian, svessien and DonnaML like this.
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