Figures say it all ...or...?
Volume 38, Number 4, April 2001
A RECENT issue of the weekly Antiques Trade Gazette features a piece by Richard Falkiner in which he rounds up the numismatic auction scene in London for the year 2000. It doesn't always make happy reading and the chart accompanying it (which is accessed by clicking on the table image) merely emphasises the turbulent happenings during the past year. However, from the stand-point of the numismatist rather than the auctioneer, the future looks bright indeed. Basically, during the past few months we have lost a number of important players from the scene-Italo Vecchi has closed his auction business, Bonham's no longer have a numismatic department, Sotheby's are to end their coin auctions (an association that goes back to well before the beginning of the 18th century), etc.- and a number of knowledgeable people are now thrown onto the numismatic job market. At the end of the day auctioneers are merely the clearing house or distribution base from where coins (and medals, banknotes, etc., etc.) are moved to the dealers and or collectors, so in the end it doesn't matter to the collector, who is the ultimate source, how many auction houses there are, provided the service is available and is of the highest standard. The expertise the auction houses provide in the market place is important and few auction houses can afford to employ experts in a full time capacity - therefore most of the major auctioneers employ consultants who can be called upon for their knowledge when unusually rare or valuable items or collections are to be offered. No doubt many of the people who have been employed by Sotheby's et al will now be available to help with the other auctions when needed. For obvious reasons this must be to the advantage of the collector whether as a consignor or as a buyer. With fewer auction houses vieing for business hopefully the standard will continue to improve and the choice will become easier to make.
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