NAC wins

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Andrew McCabe, Jun 25, 2021.

  1. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    Having used a dealer/agent since I began collecting ancient coins in 2007, I can state factually that my actual experience with my dealer is the opposite of the assertions made in this post. So for those who may be considering the use of an agent, my own experience may be helpful in determining whether you might want to use one yourself.

    First, my use of a dealer is based on two premises that may or may not apply to others:

    (1) The coins in which I'm interested are all in the $1000+ range -- usually in a higher range -- and my experience may not be applicable to coins under that range.

    (2) Even after 14 years of viewing, researching, and collecting ancient coins, I still do not consider myself to have sufficient expertise to fully evaluate potential coin acquisitions in the price range of coins that I collect. For those collectors who are actual experts in the types of coins they collect, it's understandable that they would forego the use of an agent.

    Since my dealer is very well known in the ancient coin community, neither his presence at any particular auction, nor his bidding on any particular coin, has had any positive or negative effect on inducing other collectors or agents to bid on coins in which they otherwise have no interest. Every other collector with whom I've discussed this issue has, like me, discussed his/her maximum budget for each auction coin with their respective dealer prior to the auction. Attendees at the auction know this, and the likelihood that a known dealer bidding on a certain coin will increase the interest in that coin is, well, vanishingly close to zero. In addition, the dealer may be trying to acquire the coin for his/her own inventory, in which case he/she will be very unlikely to overbid on that coin. So if you use a reputable agent, you can be comfortable that your agent isn't affecting a coin's ultimate hammer price.

    By using an agent who attends the auction and views the coins in hand, it becomes irrelevant whether you trust the auctioneer's pictures and written description. Your agent's personal evaluation of the coin will be the most important information in helping you decide whether or not to bid on the coin, and how much to bid. This is one of the most valuable aspects of having an agent, especially if the agent knows your collection and your preferences. More than once my dealer has incremented my top bid slightly, during the auction, when he thought he could win the coin and was confident I would want it for my collection. His instinct was spot on in these situations. Frequently he's viewed a coin in hand and recommended against it, or a lower maximum bid, based on his evaluation and knowledge of the ancient coin market -- i.e., there may be other coins coming up in the future that are equal or better for my collection. This is expertise that I don't have, and for which I willingly pay a fee.

    Finally, for all the reasons pointed out by others in this thread, bidding live in person at an auction is much more efficient than remotely via phone or the Internet. If you can't attend yourself along with your agent, having a live representative at the auction is a huge plus especially for those coins that are important for your collection.
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  3. Heliodromus

    Heliodromus Well-Known Member

    There's obvious benefit to in-hand inspection (whether by yourself, or by an agent), but once you've assessed the desirability/value of the coin, I really don't get the value of being in-room to bid.

    At the end of the day, and after all the psychological bidding strategies, the maximum bid still wins (whether well informed or good value or not). You certainly can't beat the anonymity and "poker face" of a remote bidder, and the claimed advantage of being in-room observing the other bidders supports the value of that! To the remote bidder your bid is just a number of the screen they are willing to exceed or not. They may bid and be at their limit, or they might be on their way to bidding it up to an absurd market multiple. Who knows ?

    For my collection, even the value of in-hand inspection would be minimal since I'm targeting specific types that don't show up that often, so you don't have the luxury of picking and choosing among specimens that are only subtly different in appeal/quality.
    Carl Wilmont and DonnaML like this.
  4. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    None of this is practically relevant to the majority of us who aren't "serious" collectors, given that I strongly suspect that what "serious" actually means is "willing and able to spend four figures (perhaps five figures?) on individual coins." Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. Still, even though it's not personally relevant to me, I find the discussion fascinating as a window into the practice of coin collecting at an elite level. It's the sport of kings, right? Or is that horse racing or polo? I wonder if there are still any actual kings or princes who collect coins.

    Edited to add: sorry, the hobby of kings, when they're not busy playing polo.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2021
  5. MarcusAntonius

    MarcusAntonius Well-Known Member

    It's the Hobby of kings, it has nothing to do with collecting at elite level but it has all to do with common sense.
  6. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    My apologies. I knew it had something to do with kings! But of course it has to do with collecting at an elite level. Who else flies around the USA or to Europe to attend coin shows in person? Even using an agent doesn't make that much financial sense below a certain level of collecting.
    Roman Collector and Ryro like this.
  7. kirispupis

    kirispupis Supporter! Supporter

    I was going to reply about this earlier, but you hit it right on the head. I disagree that one needs to spend this type of money to be a "serious" ancient coin collector. There are many individuals on this forum who have deep knowledge on the subject and can be considered "serious." Likewise, there are many who just blow money on ancient coins because they're rare and showy, and really have no clue what they just spent all that money on.

    I'm not disparaging those who do choose to spend significant $$$ or €€€ or £££ or etc on coins, but implying that this is the sole entry criterion for being a "serious" collector is just not true.
  8. Fugio1

    Fugio1 Supporter! Supporter

    Ok, great thread and worthwhile discussion on using an agent. I expected more sharing of NAC wins though, so I guess I'll enter this fray, hopefully others will also share their winnings from this fabulous sale.

    Andrew you should be extremely happy with your rarities. Looking at the hammer prices, I think you studied and researched these lots thoroughly and did extremely well.

    This sale kept me up at night with anticipation. It has been a long time since an auction has offered so many scarce and rare early anonymous/symboled denarii, and I saw a chance to nearly complete a couple of my sub collections had I won three coins in the sale. In the end, I deferred one of these to another collector friend who wanted it badly for about my maximum hammer estimate so I didn't bid - he won the lot. I deeply regret not bidding more aggressively for the other two lots. Both were scarce or rare varieties of early fully anonymous denarii. I simply didn't imagine they would go for anywhere near the double and triple previously high historical records for these varieties. Obviously, someone else is also interested in this specialty (this is good).

    I did win three lots though and here they are:
    RRC 107/1? "C" Denarius. I have a particular affinity to this weird series of coins, engraving styles obviously from the same mint, with either the staff or the "C" symbol on the reverse (RRC 106 and 107). Crawford placed the mint in "Etruria (?)" and dates to 209-208 BC, so Punic War near the beginning of the denarius age. Crawford depicts 3 distinct styles in his plates for the "C" denarius and this is not one of them. Not a high grade coin but very representative of the variety.

    RRC 121/2, Sow symbol denarius. I resign myself to the fact that with my budget, I may never be able to afford some of these issues in the condition standards I try to adhere to. When the NAC catalog was released, I pored over the early RR lots, took one look at this sow symbol denarius and didn't look at the lot again - I discarded it as too expensive for me. When the lot came up I couldn't believe the low bids so I jumped in and won it. Because I had discounted the coin, I had not critically examined it and completely missed the off-center reverse (there's a lesson here). But on balance it was a happy mistake. The symbol is the most important feature of this issue and except for the decapitated dioscuri, it's perfect:happy:.

    RRC 135/1 "Owl" symbol denarius. Was on my high want list. As much as well centered coins, I like round coins (that are well centered). This is another scarce symbol that I lacked in my collection. I won it for exactly my maximum.

    Attached Files:

  9. rrdenarius

    rrdenarius non omnibus dormio Supporter

    three great pick-ups! I like the way the wing on Roma's helmet matches the point from a casting sprew on your C Denarius.
  10. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I noticed that too -- it looks almost like it was deliberate, to make room for the wingtip!
    Carl Wilmont and rrdenarius like this.
  11. Andrew McCabe

    Andrew McCabe Well-Known Member

    Three good coins but the C denarius is especially good

    Indeed I am very happy with my coins at modest hammer prices. Not shown are the coins I didn't win (and don't regret not going higher on)
  12. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    I believe there is a Saudi prince who is an avid ancient coin collector.
  13. Fugio1

    Fugio1 Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for your comments. I showed my winnings to another correspondent outside of CT and he mentioned the same thing about the wing tip. Interestingly I didn't take note of this before the sale.
    DonnaML and rrdenarius like this.
  14. Kavax

    Kavax Well-Known Member

    My own experience with an agent, as a non-serious or league two collector, is that the agent is useful when you have several targets, a limited budget and you can't bid live online. I agree that an experienced agent knows when to exceed a limit given by one or two increments.
    I don't need any advice as i know exactly the coins i want and the price i'm willing to pay.

    I did win a single lot. A pretty nice drachm of Larissa ex BCD collection.

  15. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    LOL. I like the analogy, but I prefer an American one: I consider myself an aging Double-A collector, who will never make Triple-A, let alone the majors!
    Roman Collector likes this.
  16. Andrew McCabe

    Andrew McCabe Well-Known Member

    Agree on first point. The number of times an agent has told me "you need to drop this due issues you can't see on photo" or "you need to bid much higher" has proved to me the value of an agent for value and quality assessment. Tho really hard to convince buyers who never look at coins in advance, of the value of looking at coins in advance.
  17. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    This is exactly my experience as well. I had almost a dozen bids across NAC/Nomos and my dealer talked me out of 9 of them. I was encouraged to increase my bid on two of the remaining and got the third for half my max. In-hand viewing (and dealers with decades of experience) are invaluable.
  18. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Great coins! Congratulations! I love the Piso Frugi.
  19. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    In an area without widespread third party certification I agree it is important to view the coin in-person, either yourself or through an agent. I, for one, don't trust the auction house to be 100% forthcoming about all the borderline flaws on a coin. That certainly would make for some unhappy consigners.

    On the other hand I think the value of in-person bidding vs internet or phone is modest, if any, for collectors. Maybe if they are a dealer bidding on hundreds of coins and writing a six-figure check at the end there is something about establishing your presence in the room. But for the collector buying a small number of coins they very much want I don't see how "reading the room" is going to make any difference.

    I also agree with others that the agent discussion is only useful in the context of $1000+ coins. At a 5% commission rate I doubt there are many experienced dealers who are excited about taking on a client for less than $50.
  20. MarcusAntonius

    MarcusAntonius Well-Known Member

    Did read many interesting points of view, in many auctions with a high level of third party participation and certification do I often miss a few things:

    1) Pedigree, often none, quit often a complete lie, or something vague like 'from a German dealer' or 'from an old European collection', if you ask the auctioneer you'll get answers like: the previous collector deceased, no information available, really?

    2) accurate grading or accurate categorization of the coin.

    3) highlighting flaws/errors are missing in the description, tooled, engraved, porosity or chemically cleaned coin are all things the description should mention in my opinion.

    So even if you are planning to buy many coins in an auction which are not all in the 1000 plus range can it be extremely useful to have a expert looking at it.
    Carl Wilmont, jdmKY and DonnaML like this.
  21. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    But how is using an expert to inspect a coin going to provide a missing provenance when the auction company fails or refuses to supply one beyond the standard "an old European collection," using the excuse that the consignor wishes to remain anonymous and provided no previous provenance? Unless you pay the expert to try to research the coin, which I'm sure would be quite expensive.
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