My first successful bid in a standard coin auction: dealer's reputation re invoicing & shipping?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by DonnaML, Feb 21, 2021.

  1. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I've mentioned before that I generally don't like buying ancient coins at auction, and have never done so except from Frank Robinson and the Harlan J. Berk Buy-or-Bid sales, neither of which counts as a typical auction. (I did bid at a couple of standard auctions in 2019, but was unsuccessful.)

    I decided to make an exception a couple of days ago for a Roman Republican coin that I haven't been able to find at retail in decent condition, and have wanted ever since an example I bought through VCoins last summer turned out to be not only a hybrid but a fourree, so I returned it. See the thread at it's a Marius Capito (Crawford 378/1c) with Ceres on the obverse and a plowman with two oxen on the reverse.

    The example I bid on was Lot 468 in the obolos 18 electronic auction of the "Trausnitz Collection" by Nomos, a Swiss dealer; see

    Nomos Obolos Auction 18 Marius Capito denarius (Control-number CI) jpg version.jpg

    I will wait to give a full description, together with any extended discussion of the type, until I receive the coin.

    This, by the way, was the hybrid fourree I bought last year and returned:

    RETURNED jpg version C. Marius Capito (Ceres - ploughman & oxen), Crawford 378-1c.jpg

    Leaving aside the fact that the new one is genuine (hopefully!), it appears to be in about the same condition as the returned fourree, except that it has a fairly prominent test cut on the reverse. Which doesn't detract too much from the coin's appearance in my opinion, as it doesn't cut across any of the design. So I didn't let it stop me from bidding. (Surprisingly, the original description didn't even mention the test cut, so I emailed Nomos to ask "Your description doesn't mention the cut on the reverse. In your opinion, is it simply an ancient test cut? It doesn't bother me, since it doesn't affect the design. I was just wondering." Nomos responded the next day to say "Indeed there is a cut on the reverse, which is a bankers mark, applied in the antiquity either to test that the coin is of pure silver, or just to mark the coin for counting (or accounting) reasons. Banker’s marks are very common in the Roman Republican period." They then changed the lot description, which now ends with "Test cut on reverse, otherwise, good very fine." See the link I posted. I'm pleased that they amended the description, even though the test cut probably should have been mentioned to begin with.)

    In any event, I am reasonably confident that the auction is over and that mine was the winning bid -- I'm not sure if there was a live bidding phase, but if there was, I didn't keep track of it. I decided that either my maximum bid would be sufficient, or it wouldn't; I didn't want to be tempted to go beyond it.

    Current Status
    Online bidding closes:
    21 Feb 2021 18:54:00 CET [EST is 6 hours earlier]
    Current Date & Time:
    22 Feb 2021 00:26:55 CET
    Remaining Time:
    Hammer Price:
    260 CHF by DonnaML (Bids: 9)

    (I was a bit confused by the reference to "online" bidding closing, as if there might be some other kind that continues thereafter, but I don't think they'd be giving the "hammer price" if that were the case.)

    I know that I am going to have to pay an 18.5% buyer's fee (plus a Paypal/credit card fee), but the total should still probably be less than what a similar example would cost me at retail if I had seen one lately. I simply got tired of waiting, and didn't want to pass up the opportunity. I am not planning to make a habit out of this!

    So here are my questions: has anyone bought coins at this dealer's obolos auctions before, especially in the last year or so? If so, how long did it generally take them to invoice and ship the coins, and, if you live in North America, how long did it take the coins to arrive? Do you know if shipment by courier is an option?

    Many thanks for any advice you can provide.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
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  3. Alegandron

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

    This was the last one I bought on their auction. I do not recall exactly, however, from my records: I requested FedEX, and their turnaround and my receival was fast (under 2 weeks, probably 1 week by my records in 2016) OMG, EXACTLY 5 years ago, today... Well, sorry, this is ancient history and no help to you!
    EDIT: I had corresponded about MOU issues. They were very quick in their responses, and assured me no problems. Customer Care was very good.

    Nomos Obolos - 160221

    Anonymous, circa 300/280-276 BC. Didrachm (Silver, 20mm, 7.28 g 11), uncertain mint (Neapolis?). Helmeted head of Mars to left; oak spray to right. Rev. Horse’s head right, wearing bridle, on base inscribed ROMANO; to left, stalk of grain. Crawford 13/1. HN III 266. Sydenham 1. Minor reverse corrosion, otherwise, about very fine.
    From a Swiss collection, formed in the 1990s.

    Current Status
    Closing Date & Time: 21 Feb 2016 18:43:30 CET
    Current Date & Time: 21 Feb 2016 20:33:10 CET
    Remaining Time: Closed
  4. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Wonderful coin from one of my favorite auction house!
    A bunch of my favorite coins last year came from Nomos Obols auctions:
    image00054.jpg IMG_4054(1).JPG 1380053_1600340160.l-removebg-preview.png Hirsch 221 Lot 219.jpg 16024484100126288246453856866947-removebg-preview.png

    Here's my fourrée and pure (we hope) versions of your Marius:

    Ps, small enough test cut. I wouldn't site them. But how cool is that they amended it?!:)
    Funny enough, I am working on a thread about their attribution of another coin... more to come.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
  5. Theoderic

    Theoderic Active Member

    Obolos / Nomos is top notch in my opinion. I won on their last auction, and they invoiced within a couple days of the auction close. Their offices were closed for a couple of weeks due to the holidays but they made that clear and you have 20 days to arrange payment. They charge 4.4% for either Paypal or credit card payments. Once payment is received they usually ship within a couple of days. They send by registered postal service normally but I'm not sure if they will send via courier as I never asked about that and I don't see it mentioned in their terms. I live in New Jersey and once shipped from Switzerland I had it within a week.
  6. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I recall the thread on the fourree with mismatch numbers and am glad you found a replacement. The hobby was more fun when I got mine years ago. I can be of no help regarding sources out of the country. Today we even have a CT post on coins being seized going to Canada making me wonder about the future of the hobby. Good luck for a speedy delivery.
  7. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Hi Donna,

    I have nothing but excellent service from Nomos over the years. I always get an invoice within a couple of days and I usually receive the coin within a week or two.

    Here is one of my favorites from a recent Nomos auction. It is divvs Vespasian coin struck under Titus. The quadriga facing right makes this a very rare coin. It is RIC 362. The obverse legend also makes this coin very rare. Curtis has told me that this legend is also now known for the left facing variety.

    T 362 new.jpg
    panzerman, tibor, Di Nomos and 15 others like this.
  8. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Wrong thread; sorry!
    Ryro likes this.
  9. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks to all of you for chiming in. I'm very glad to hear such positive comments about your dealings with Nomos, both in general and with regard to shipping. Hopefully the presence of the test cut will preclude my discovering another fourree! This time, I made sure that the control-numbers matched on the obverse and reverse. I will post the coin again, with a full description, after it arrives.

    PS: I didn't mean to say I bought the fourree at auction last summer; I meant to say I bought it from a retail dealer via VCoins. And just to clarify, I have bought some non-ancient coins and historical medals at auction (Spink, Bonhams, etc., all by old-fashioned mail auctions), but not in 20 years or so. I'm not counting ebay, but I've never bought an ancient coin there either.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
  10. LaCointessa

    LaCointessa Supporter! Supporter


    Hi Donna...beautiful coin. Congrats on snagging it.
    panzerman, ominus1 and DonnaML like this.
  11. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    Nice Coin Donna! Excellent company. I enjoy buying from Nomos.

    This is one of my favorite tetartera, purchased from them in 2018.

    Alexius I Comnenus, 1081-1118. Tetarteron (Bronze, 19 mm, 3.08 g, 12 h), Thessalonica, 1092/3-1118. C Φ/M Δ Jeweled cross with central X and globe at each extremity. Rev. IΩ ΚΟΜΝ Crowned bust of Alexios Comnenos facing, wearing loros and holding jeweled scepter and globus cruciger. DOC 40a. SB 1931. Sommer 59.26. Rare with clear inscription. An important example. Very fine.
  12. Ryan McVay

    Ryan McVay Supporter! Supporter

    Your auctions list might be getting shorter. I recall reading that this might very well be Frank Robinson's last auction!

  13. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I have. I recommend you pay with TransferWise. Most firms ask an extra percentage for PayPal or credit cards, but not for TransferWise. Wiring fees can be very large at the US end and the other end charges for that, too. So, don't use typical bank wires.

    Nomos may ask you for about 32 CHF or more for shipping and payment, but 12 CHF of that is for bank wiring fees which they will not charge if you pay with TransferWise and first ask for a revised invoice. After I paid the first time I complained about the high 32 CHF fee for shipping (my coin cost about what yours did) and they responded that that fee included the bank charge at their end and if they had know I was using TransferWise the invoice would have been for 12 CHF less (So my extra payment became a credit toward my next win).
  14. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I don't recall his saying that in his introduction to the current auction. That would be sad.
    panzerman and Roman Collector like this.
  15. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks. I will see if I can figure out how to use Transferwise.
    Orfew likes this.
  16. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    It is very easy. Using it has meant that I can buy more coins
  17. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    Well done @DonnaML !! a beautiful coin and a more than perfect replacement for the fourrée you returned.

    Have never bought from Nomos, and by reading all the positive comments about them, there shouldn't be any problem at all.:)
    panzerman, DonnaML and Alegandron like this.
  18. FrizzyAntoine

    FrizzyAntoine Active Member

    Congrats on the amazing coin Donna, and welcome to the (admittedly nerve-wracking) world of auctions! Great choice of auction house too, Nomos ranks among my personal favourites alongside CNG and NAC.

    I second using transferwise, it's quite simple to use once you set it up and saved me over $1000 last year while being well on track to doing the same again this year, money I'd much rather spend on coins than fees :)
  19. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    That would indeed be sad. Do you have any further information on this?

    Congratulations on the new coin, Donna! It is a very attractive example of this interesting type. And I can only echo the previous comments about Tranferwise: It is very easy to set up and use, and it saved me a lot of money over the last couple of years.

    In 2017, my example hammered at Numismatik Naumann, another auction house I can recommend, for almost exactly the same amount as yours:
    Römische Republik – RRC 378:1c, Denar, Marius Capito, Ceres, Ochsengespann.png
    Roman Republic, moneyer: C. Marius C. f. Capito, AR denarius serratus, 81 BC, Rome mint. Obv: CAPIT; head of Ceres, diademed, r., control number CV; control mark (whip?) before. Rev: C. MARI. C. F. / S. C; ploughman with two oxen l.; above, control number CV. 18mm, 3.88g. Ref: RRC 378/1c.
  20. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    Nomos / Obolos used to be a favorite fishing pond of mine for Roman-Syrian Tets, however, I haven't won anything from them in recent years :(. You won't see junk in their auctions & they usually get strong prices for their coins & medals. Their lead numismatist, Dr. Alan Walker, is a true scholar in the field. The coin of Philip II pictured below I won in their Obolos 1 auction :happy:.

    3988264-004, AK Collection.jpg
  21. Only a Poor Old Man

    Only a Poor Old Man Well-Known Member

    @DonnaML, congratulations for your win! I haven't used Nomos, but it shows up a lot as provenance in coins this side of the pond, which shows that is one of the oldest and most established European numismatic houses. You are doing the right thing not following the live or closing stages of auctions as it can be nerve-racking. I was following Obolos yesterday to see the hammer prices and general auction behavior, and to my usual horror I would see prices jumping like mad in the closing seconds. Nope, ancient coin collecting is still going strong, very strong indeed!

    BTW, while I was watching the closing stages of the auction, this lot popped up and reminded me of a recent thread here in Coin-Talk:

    @Al Kowsky what do you make of this?
    DonnaML likes this.
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