Featured Estimates for Ancient Coin Auctions

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

  1. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    We were never in doubt.

    Actually, I believe that we the bootom feeders are even stranger, as our finances have a tighter margin as we spend our funds buying money that doesn’t work any more.
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  3. MSG 78

    MSG 78 Active Member

    We actually started a new auction category to address these kinds of collections. These are called "Keystone Auctions". Sometimes there are great collections formed that just don't have high enough value to be placed in a printed catalog. And sometimes, rightly so I might add, these collections will do better when they are presented individually as a solo collection. It is so much easier to understand the collection when it is presented one coin after another all together. These will be held on off weeks between Esales typically but they may just replace an Esale as well. I believe we have one coming up in July. With the long weekend I probably won't have an answer on if we have any AK books left until next week sometime. Have a good weekend!
    GregH, Carl Wilmont, Orfew and 2 others like this.
  4. nicholasz219

    nicholasz219 Well-Known Member

    @MSG 78 I very much like the idea of keystone sales. I think that you will find that collections organized around a theme and promoted correctly will do just fine. I try to stretch and participate in name auctions even when my budget really shouldn’t allow it. I would be happy to see collections in my field offered online fairly regularly and I think many others would be too. As you probably have seen from all of the responses there is a substantial group of collectors who are willing to pay the juice and associated costs if given a chance to purchase quality coins within or even a bit above their price range.

    One note about auction catalogs is that I get some but then I don’t get the ones that I really want and I have to navigate customer service departments etc. to try and find one usually after the fact. Is it possible to organize each sale’s lots in a pdf that could be printed on demand in an actual glossy paper copy? I’m sure printing and associated costs are not fun but if you passed it off and made it an item to be ordered (and of course printed for the consignor and worthy clients) it may boost the participation in keystone auctions, increase consignor and collector satisfaction and provide excellent research material at low cost to CNG.
    For example if Doug sold his collection I would hopefully win one coin but also want a catalog to place it in context of his whole collection. I know you can purchase catalogs from houses for $25-50, but I’m sure participation is never what it could be. $20 for a print on demand nice enough version would be fun and a no brainer.
    Carl Wilmont likes this.
  5. MSG 78

    MSG 78 Active Member

    I think we can do that. I know we can still print our old sales "one of" if we have no stock of catalogs left. I will have to do some checking to see how it is formatted and what it would take to make sales available in a PDF format. Good idea!
  6. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Is there any chance that you could put the AK collection catalog back online? I recently bought a coin -- a Julia Domna denarius with a very interesting reverse of Isis with the infant Horus -- that came from one of the AK collection lots (lot 614 in Triton XX). The general description of that lot, at https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=324807, gives a further link to the descriptions of the individual coins (see http://ak.cngcoins.com), and states that a "separate, fully illustrated catalogue of the complete collection has been compiled, containing the photos and full description of all the coins in each lot. This catalogue will be . . . available online." However, at the link provided, descriptions are available for the coins in only 8 of the A.K. Collection's 14 lots, not including Lot 614. Fortunately, the dealer from whom I purchased the coin sent me the relevant portion of a page from the catalog; mine is the coin at the bottom of the page:

    Julia Domna - Isis & Horus (Description from CNG Triton XX auction, Lot 614).jpg

    Still, it would be very nice to be able to see the entire collection online.

    Many thanks.
  7. GregH

    GregH Well-Known Member

    Starting prices and estimates have never been a deterrent for me to bid on a CNG auction.

    The biggest deterrents for me are:
    - Buyer fees. I need to do some mental gymnastics to work out what the actual cost will be for me: i need to add 20% to the price, convert USD to AUD (at a rate that is always much more than the actual exchange rate), then add what i think you'll charge me for shipping. Always, it seems, i under-estimate the total price. I hate the buyer-fee model which i feel is anachronistic. I'd love to see some transparency around what my actual price will be.

    - Photos of group lots. I see five coins in the photo, and yet the group lot has 50 coins. I can't see what I'm bidding on.

    That said, CNG remains one of my preferred auction houses. Easy to sign up, easy to bid, easy to watch coins in Numisbids.

  8. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Although it doesn't have individual photos - you might be interested in the catalog online.
    DonnaML likes this.
  9. As a newbie that has been fairly active in the past two weeks, I would agree with you on keeping the estimates on the lower end.

    Doesnt bother me at all if a coin sells for much higher than estimate, a coin is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. All I see the "more accurate" estimates doing, is push final sale prices up across the board.
  10. GregH

    GregH Well-Known Member

    As a general comment - I think some auction houses give estimates that are too low (sometimes by an order of magnitude) so they can boast to consignors that they consistently out-perform the estimate. It's self-evident how meaningful such estimates are.

    So i don't really care much for estimates. The opening price is much more important. Certain auction houses open an auction near retail price. If the opening price is too strong, I won't bid.
    Restitutor and NicholasMaximus like this.
  11. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    I think they should also add a mandatory Aussie Tax of 50%, especially if he is named Greg... add another 10% surcharge to-boot. :D

    I always set up a mini spreadsheet based on all the terms and surchages. Was pretty accurate, so when I bid, I knew my final landed cost at each bid increment. Excel does wonders for me.
  12. GregH

    GregH Well-Known Member


    Actually a good, common-sense approach.

    But i still hate the buyer fee. Or at least they can write something on the auction site like "Current price $100. If the coin sells at this price, you will pay $120." And maybe include figures in major currencies (The Aussie dollar is a "major currency", right? :angelic:).
  13. MSG 78

    MSG 78 Active Member

    We have accounts in Euros, Swiss Francs, and British Pounds besides US Dollars of course. We don't have access directly to an Australian dollar account as we have no physical presence there. I usually use PayPal or a credit card when buying in foreign currencies I don't have access to. I am not sure how much they "ding" me on the conversion but I am sure it is more than the published exchange rate.

    We have begun photographing group lots obverse/reverse for all lots ten coins or less. This with the coins all laid out in the same position. Our camera layout in our photography room does not allow us to get far enough away from the coin table to photograph lots larger than 10 in this manner. It requires a manual camera hold and custom light adjustment to edit the photo. Once we get back from COVID-19 restrictions this is a subject on the list to address. I too am a fan of seeing all coins obverse and reverse in a group lot. Until a month ago we never did this at all. Please have patience. We're getting there... But your comment is noted!
  14. MSG 78

    MSG 78 Active Member

    We set up a spreadsheet at CNG when we bid in auctions of other firms as well. It does indeed work quite nicely.
    Carl Wilmont, Alegandron and Orfew like this.
  15. MSG 78

    MSG 78 Active Member

    We have discussed putting currency conversion on the website. It's a touchy subject legally. The question is this: Is the converted currency a commitment by the auction house to sell at this converted price? And if we don't have an account in that currency, how do we accept payment in that currency? And how often should the auction house update the currency conversion rate? And which currency conversion should they use? (meaning where should you source the currency conversion rate you publish)
  16. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I'll have to see details before knowing how I feel about the Keystone concept. It might help the esales if it siphons off the lots that high end bidders consider a waste of their time.

    The problem with buyer's fees is not with the people who understand them but with the people who don't and end up paying more than they intended. You might say that this is just tough for them but a certain percentage will walk away convinced that either that dealer or the hobby as a whole is not for them. I agree spreadsheets will help but only the people who use them. An idea like that expressed by GergH: "Current price $100. If the coin sells at this price, you will pay $120." would help to some degree but still would do nothing for the person who has not fully grasped the effect of postage and exchange rates on the bottom line. Some of us bottom feeders make a habit of bidding on additional coins in hopes of diluting a high minimum postage rate (on the theory that a $20 postage charge is better if shared by three coins) but even then it is a problem for those buying the cheaper lots and will be more offensive when it come up in 'Keystone' sales assuming there will be some coins that go for less than $60. The minimum charge for listing a single lot will make both seller and buyer unhappy with coins under the current minimum. I assume that CNG will be using the Keystone sales to move coins that came to them as parts of better collections rather than soliciting/accepting coins for that purpose that would not have been previously.

    in 1994, CNG called my home and left a message with my teen daughter that they were sending me a group of 194 Septimius Severus denarii. I was thrilled because 194AD was prime time for my interest in 'Emesa' COS II denarii. The package arrived and contained 194 by count denarii mostly of the dumpy Rome mint coins from the middle period of the reign. I bought three (only one COS II) mostly out of guilt. The only profit made in this deal was by the post office. I have no idea how CNG came to have that group and never noted seeing them later in sales but it would be a mistake to start buying coins like those that were below normal standards just to feed the Keystone sales.
    Valentinian and svessien like this.
  17. Nick Zynko

    Nick Zynko New Member

    Mike Thank you for opening this thread. I am also a CNG customer. For me the effect on the opening bid is what is at stake. IMHO customers who are going after a coin "care not" what the estimate is. What they care about is if the estimate put the opening bid out of reach for them. For example I make it a point to use opening bids as a place marker on the few coins I'm very interested in at at the start of the auction. On closing day I am always bidding against 2 or three others who are also interested and if I want the coin then I will pay a reasonable premium over FMV or the estimate to own it. My point is that if all opening bids were set to zero, I would have placed an opening bid on at least double the amount of coins. A coin is worth precisely only what someone is willing to pay but if you limit the amount of people bidding you force that decision right at the start of the auction. Hopefully that makes a little sense to the valid questions you pose.
  18. Limes

    Limes Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the reply. To a certain extent there is also a psychologic effect of which both seller and buyer potentially can profit. The question is of course, is the 'lesser' coin deemed more valuable merely by being placed with a group of 'higher' quality specimens? The other way around: is a 'high' quality coin most likely to yield a smaller revenue if it placed with 'lesser' coins? I can only answer this for myself, and I think it goes beyond this discussion to philosophize any further. I underscore your conclusion: it's an art, and also a very entertaining challenge for buyer and seller, and auctioneer.

    True. And some auction houses do this already. I also like to format offered by biddr, which has a simple direct link to the auction terms in which additional fees are given. But showing the full costs is more direct of course.

    If I understand correctly; you were send a package of 194 coins, which you did not buy, only so you could chose some specimens to buy?? If so: wow! Did it work like this, back in those days??
  19. Black Friar

    Black Friar Supporter! Supporter

    My personal opinion. Many thanks to Mike for this very educational and matter of fact explanation of the process for both the dealer and bidders point of view.
  20. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    That was a one and only occurrence that I did not understand at the time and am still mystified by. It was in the days when no one in their right mind specialized in Septimius Severus but I only collected the Eastern coins as a specialty. The whole thing would not have happened had the coin count not been exactly the same as the year date of the COS II 'Emesa' coins. I was then corresponding heavily with the late Roger Bickford-Smith (CNG 47 sold his lesser coins but the BM took the best off the top). Roger was buying what showed up in the UK and taught me what I know about the Eastern coins. Had the coins been all 194 issues, I would have bought many but I had no idea there were 194 coins involved; I expected a couple dozen at best. Had I known they were just a huge pile of Rome mint coins, I would have called back and said I did not need to see them. I do not know who sent them since my daughter did not recall the name. I just checked my back catalogs and CNG sales that year included no 'Emesa' mint coins. That was standard then.
    Limes, svessien and DonnaML like this.
  21. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    It sounds almost like the practice I remember from my (brief) childhood stamp- collecting days of sending stamps on approval. I have no idea if stamp dealers still do that.
    Limes likes this.
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