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The Mystery of Auction References



It is good practice that auction houses cite references for the lots they are selling however, and it may just be me, but this can sometimes make research difficult for a number of reasons.

1) What is the actual reference? Fortunately, some, but not all, auction houses list the references used but do not always state which one the abbreviation used in the lot description corresponds to. For example, using ‘P’ and then citing several books with titles/authors/publishers that could all be the mystery ‘P’ is not very helpful, it would also be nice if everyone used the same abbreviation.rantrant

2) Using a reference that is prohibitively expensive.

3) Using a reference that is out-of-print that no one can get hold of!

For most of my areas of interest Option 3 seems to be the situation that I am usually faced with and that can be very frustrating. As a result, this Journal Entry was prompted by the eventual acquisition of a copy of the two volume ‘Histoire Monetaire et Numismatique Contemporaine’ by Jean Mazard published in 1965 which corresponds to the ‘MAZ’ references sometimes seen in auction listings (or M, or Mazard, or MZ).

Once acquired I always find it interesting to compare these older tomes to the more recent references as this not only highlights discoveries made since publication but that they often also contain more detailed and useful information – it also highlights that the citation used for some lots is wrong >:(

It is often said to ‘buy the book before the coin’ and I totally agree where this is easy to do – Gadoury and Le Franc publish regular price guides for French coinage largely negating the need for MAZ however it is nice to now be able to add this to my collection of books. I expect many of us are searching for ‘missing’ texts for our libraries and, once found, it is just as satisfying as tracking down that elusive coin – well almost.



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