Phew! What a scorcher!
Volume 38, Number 9, September 2001
As I have said in this comment before summer always used to be a slow time in our hobby and September used to be welcomed by dealers and collectors alike as being a “new start” after the traditional lull of June, July and August. Back in May this column predicted that in fact the summer would be busy as Foot and Mouth waned and the weather brought us all out and about once more, well although some of the countryside has at long last opened up there are still vast areas closed off and the weather hasn’t been as kind as we would have hoped but that hasn’t meant we’ve had a quiet time by any means! In what has been one of the most interesting periods in numismatics for some time these last few months have seen some startling developments particularly in regard to the make up of some of the “major players”. Following Sotheby’s final sale in May, a surprise move in June by Christies saw an announcement that Spink and Son, the UK’s oldest auctioneers were now up for sale and within days of that announcement came the news that Bonhams were due to “merge” with Phillips (although the new company would take the Bonhams name). Bonhams of course closed their coin and medal department last year so the speculation surrounding Glendining’s, Phillips’ collectables arm remains intense. At the same time that these stories broke on the Auction front so Howard and Frances Simmons announced that the London Coin Fair would no longer be able to make use of the Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch, the popular venue that has seen the event go from strength to strength in recent years. There was initial concern that the remaining 2001 London Coin Fairs would have to be cancelled completely however after much effort on the part of the organisers a splendid new venue in the shape of the Posthouse, Bloomsbury was located; sadly not in time to save this month’s event that has had to be called off but the November one at least has been saved. We wish Howard and Frances all the best in this new venture and will, of course, be there to support them. Fairs were on the agenda later in the summer too as the York Coin Fair welcomed record numbers on both the Friday and Saturday, with all dealers reporting brisk if not staggering trade! We had all expected something of a quiet time of it with the hottest days of the year and the start of the school holidays to contend with, however nothing could have been further from the case as the doors opened and hundreds of eager collectors rushed in as if their lives, or at least their collections, depended on it. As if all this excitement wasn’t enough the auction houses were making news in their salerooms as well as boardrooms with some very strong results coming from all the major players, a full report of these sales appears in the Market Scene this month. However it wasn’t only with the good prices realised that the auctioneers found themselves making headlines with at least three of the big sales having some controversy surrounding them – the Dix Noonan Webb sale lost its first 306 lots, the Santa Lucia treasure, after the Italian Government announced that it was claiming the items ‘recovered’, this despite written authorisation correctly obtained by DNW stating that the items could be sold. Spink too found themselves in the middle of an ongoing debate with their “Patina Collection” sale of patterns when certain members of the numismatic trade objected most vociferously to the classification of some of the items in the sale as coins at all and attempted to get the “offending” lots withdrawn. Glendinings did not escape the excitement either when it was announced that three of the coins featured on the front cover of their catalogue had been withdrawn from the sale as they had been identified as forgeries. Even Baldwin’s were not to be outdone when it came to making the headlines with their third Argentum sale’s lot 291 making a staggering £9,775 – against an estimate of £20-30! If this was a quiet summer then the busy “season” should really be something to watch out for.
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