What are your very favorite Ancient Coin auction houses?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by VirginiaMan, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. VirginiaMan

    VirginiaMan Member

    Hi All - Looking for good, reliable ancient coin auction firms. Question: Do you have a favorite or favorites? This thread is pretty simple; no images required. I thank you all - in advance - for your input. Blessings one and all!
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Ebay & vauctions.com are the only ones I use.
  4. Jims Coins

    Jims Coins Supporter! Supporter

    Frank Robinson auction
  5. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

    CNG is the one I use the most. There are others that I buy from occasionally.
    Nicholas Molinari likes this.
  6. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    CNG, Roma Numismatics, Naville Numismatics, Numismatica Ars Classica and Vauctions are the ones I've used the most over the years.

    Since you're in the US I recommend starting out with US-based auction houses like CNG or Vauctions so the only variables you have to worry about are buyers' fees and shipping. Often foreign auction houses end up having a lot more variables that go into the calculation that determines how many dollars need to come out of your wallet to get a given coin to you including buyers' fees, shipping, currency conversion, bank or payment processing charges, etc.. You may also have to figure out a new payment service like Transferwise. It can be a bit overwhelming dealing with all that and it also being your first auction. That said, all the auction houses above are highly recommended by me and if you see a coin you really want at one of those I say go for it.
  7. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    I have bought from all of these sources and also recommend them all. In addition I would also recommend Savoca, Numismatik Naumann, Dix Noonan Webb, Hess Divo, Sincona, Dr Busso Peus, and Harlan Berk.
    Jay GT4 likes this.
  8. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    The auction houses I've used most are Leu Numismatik, Naville Numismatics, Nomos AG, VAuctions, and Savoca...I'd recommend all of them. Savoca can be a very good place to find lower-end coins at a good price, some great bargains there.

    As others have said, definitely make sure you know what all of the buyers' fees, shipping/handling/processing fees, and currency exchange rates are before you put in a bid...it can make a huge difference on the final price.
    BenSi likes this.
  9. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    I've used a few now in 2019, but Savoca has been my best experience. Others (Pliego, Ibercoin, TimeLine) were not bad, but with 2 there was a language barrier, so some Google Translate was used for my own benefit.

    AMCC is great!
    Jims Coins likes this.
  10. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    I like CNG, NAC, Roma, Kuenker, and Gorny& Mosch. Some others include Leu and Nomos. I think any of these firms are good. I agree with some that if you are starting and are on this side of the pond best to start with North American firms. Before dealing with any of these firms you should first find out how they accept payment. Some will use pay pal other won't. Best to work that out first before jumping in. PS A couple of recent aquisitions from CNG 111
    1. Faustina I Aureus
    2. Trajan sestertius faustinaaur1.jpg trajans24.jpg
  11. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    I have very good experiences so far with the following auction houses: Savoca, Emporium Hamburg, CNG, Dr. Busso Peus Nachf, Gorny & Mosch, Solidus Numismatik, Leu Numismatik, Künker, Tauler & Fau, Naville Numismatics, Numismatik Naumann and Nomos.
    philologus_1 likes this.
  12. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I see you got plenty of answers from several people. I can't help except to say the ones I have used were mentioned but I need more information to be of any possible use. I do agree with the idea of starting with auctions based in your own country but that is more important when you are a low budget collector like me. International postage can be a big deal but you have to pay to play with the Big Dogs if they are the only ones who have the coins you want. It seems silly to pay $25 postage to ship a $50 coin but not so bad if you are buying a half dozen coins or one worth $500. You did not say what you plan to spend and the recommendations do change accordingly. Most dealers, auctions or not, have a minimum price coin under which they do not deal except in group lots (often at the end of the listings). It makes no sense to pay $100 for a $25 coin if the same thing is available elsewhere for $25. If you are seeking $50 coins, it is not best to look in sales where the house charges a minimum of $40 to sell a coin.
    kaparthy, PeteB, Marsyas Mike and 2 others like this.
  13. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    CNG has gotten too popular in my opinion. They are great but seldom is there any real bargain to be found there anymore. If I were to use an auction house these days, I'd look at a smaller one. I remember back in 2015 and 2016 it was not uncommon to find a few nice coins at CNG with no bids at closing time and being able to swoop in and get me a nice Imperial or Republican coin with no opposing bids or maybe one at most. Can't say I see those opportunities that often anymore. I'm sure it happens, but not as much as back then.
    kaparthy and Severus Alexander like this.
  14. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    VirginiaMan, this suggestion is well worth heeding. If you're looking for a certain price range, or types of coins (Greek silver, Roman gold, 12 Caesars, late Roman bronzes, etc.), you'll get more constructive and focused responses by letting us know about that price range and area(s) of interest.
    kaparthy and rrdenarius like this.
  15. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    Probably the best answer of the whole entire thread. @VirginiaMan Some auction houses like CNG don't really cater to budget collectors, but there are plenty of other auctions that do. For example, FORVM auctions typically have decent budget coins for beginners and bottom feeders (a category which I occasionally count myself in depending on the time of year), our very own @John Anthony has plenty of budget offerings in his auctions, as well as through direct sales, our very own @Ken Dorney occasionally holds auctions with plenty of budget friendly choices, as well as directly sells coins for budget conscious yet discriminating collectors at coolcoins.com . Agora Auctions hosts auctions for others, as well as their own auctions, with plenty of budget coins to bid on (some with starting bids as low as $30). And there's more auction houses as well as direct sales dealers out there for the budget minded and the newbies just looking to dip their toes in the field without blowing a fortune.
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  16. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    As a collector of Roman imperial and provincial coins in the $25-$200 dollar range (most < $100), these are my favorite auctions:

    Savoca and Savoca London's Blue Auctions. The coins are Not identified beyond "Trajan denarius, X g, Y mm" or "Gordian III, Thrace, Hadrianopolis, X g, Y mm," but I know what I'm looking at and don't need further information. The coins typically range from F - gVF, and sometimes have other issues, such as poor centering or surface irregularities. Because the coins aren't attributed by reference number and are the type of coins ignored by many well-heeled collectors, it's a cherry-picker's paradise. I've picked up numerous scarce varieties for my various specialty collections that went unrecognized as such. Moreover, I like that they deliver by FedEx, which allows me to have them held at a nearby business for me and nobody has to be at home to sign for them.

    Numismatik Naumann: Higher standard when it comes to condition and grade than Savoca Blue but still affordable. Good variety of Roman provincial coins. Sometimes the competition is fierce on certain items and they end up hammering for several-fold the estimate. Don't expect to cherry-pick from them; they know what they have and they sell each coin carefully attributed.

    Frank Robinson: Like Savoca, the items are not fully attributed to reference number but if there's something unusual about the coin, Frank will point it out, often with a snarky comment, such as "scarce variety without the altar at the goddess's feet, if you happen to care about such things." Frank's catalogs are entertaining, always have something for everyone, and his customer service is top-notch. Photos are horrible and the coins reliably look better in hand. Minimum bid prices have been escalating in recent years (he used to not have any minimums) and there are fewer true bargains available than there used to be. He doesn't charge a buyer's commission, either.

    I regularly participate in @John Anthony 's private auction, @Bing 's private auction, and @Ken Dorney 's auctions. They always have something interesting and the coins are well-researched and the prices are very reasonable.

    TimeLine Auctions have been a source of interesting coins for my subspecialty collections. They are primarily an art and antiquities firm, NOT a coin dealer. As such, their coins are listed last in their catalogs and their customer base often ignores them. Moreover, the coins may be low-grade or have problems. This sometimes results in a truly rare coin being ignored altogether and selling (to me) for the starting bid. They have a big buyer's commission and shipping charge, so beware and take this into account.

    Bertolami is similar to Timeline in its focus and customer base, allowing some rare coins to go unrecognized and to sell for starting bid or scarcely higher.

    CNG and Berk are each top-notch and all of their coins are well-researched and properly attributed. You have no chance of cherry-picking an unrecognized variety. They have a large customer base and competition can be fierce for certain items. Many of the coins are beyond my budget, but occasionally I'll pick up something in my price range.

    I participate in other auctions, too, such as Pegasi, Great Collections, Heritage, Roma, Agora, Auctiones GmbH, Leu, Artemide, BAG, and so on, but they are not my go-to auctions for various reasons ranging from unrealistic starting bids to unappealing coins to poor customer service.
  17. VirginiaMan

    VirginiaMan Member

    Thank you all for all the valuable leads and "cautions".
  18. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    Savoca: I can echo the positive things others have said above. There usually are good bargains to be made in their Blue Auctions. Savoca's descriptions are minimal, though, and you'll have to do all attributions by catalogue number yourself. I bought from them quite often and have never been let down by their shipping and customer service. Once I had to ask them to hold a package for me for a while since I was travelling – they answered promptly and courteously, and were a pleasure to deal with. In my book, that's an extra point. They do live bidding on biddr, which I find quite comfortable to use. (typical price range: €10–100)

    Ancient and Medieval Coins Canada: A new company run by our forum member @Severus Alexander. They hold two auctions a year. The first auction was a true blast with excellent pictures, great descriptions, and very fair prices. I am very much looking forward to the second auction, which will be held in September. They also use biddr. (typical price range: CAD 10–considerably higher)

    Frank Robinson: I agree with what @Roman Collector has said above. Strongly recommended. (typical price range: $25–considerably higher)

    Artemide Aste: Their e-Live auctions often have attractive, fully attributed coins at affordable starting prices, and sometimes there is a bargain to be made. Shipping is from Austria and can take a week or so to the US, but I never had any problems. Everytime I had a question, I found their customer service to be very helpful and competent. They accept pre bids via biddr, but I recommend to create an account on their website to see the current bids and participate in live bidding. Their coins come with carefully designed and printed auction tickets including a QR code leading to the coin's auction listing in their online archive – some might think of this as gimmicky, but I find it thoughtful. (typical price range: €25–considerably higher)

    CNG: Excellent coins, good service, quite pricey. Since their starting bids are considerably higher than those of the auction houses mentioned above, I only bid here when I truly want a coin. Though I have never been disappointed by the quality of their coins, their website could in my opinion use an update. (typical price range: $100–the sky)

    Additional advice: When buying from European auction houses, check the current Euro-Dollar exchange rate first to avoid unpleasant surprises. For the same reason, check the buyer's premium, which tends to be between 10% and 22.5% of the hammer price. Many auction houses primarily accept payment by check or wire transfer – using transferwise often is a good solution.
  19. tartanhill

    tartanhill Active Member

    I've had good luck with just about all of the auction houses mentioned. The only one I've really had a problem with is HD Rauch. I feel they were very unprofessional in handling a problem I have with a purchase from them which ended up costing me money. I've had a couple of auction houses, including some already mentioned, sell me coins that were not authentic, but they readily recognized the problem and made me good.
  20. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    Forum auctions have had some really great coins lately at reasonable prices. They're not always lower end coins and there's no fees for buyers or sellers. In fact I'm selling some there right now.

    I also buy from CNG, ROMA, Savoca, and many of the others mentioned above.
    BenSi likes this.
  21. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Thanks, @Orielensis! :happy:
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