Auction Catalogs
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Don't know about you, but I find auction catalogs fascinating.  

I saw my first ones early last year at FUN.  Fantastic pictures, tons of information much of it new.  Some anectdotal, but this is information for collectors not a doctoral thesis or rocket project where the information must be verified to the nth degree. xD  The Heritage auction catalogs are super-expansive, full of tons of information, and almost read like books.  Most impressive, as Darth Vader once said. (thumbsu  Haven't seen any yet from Stacks or GC. 

Alot of the coin books cite auction catalogs from the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's for price, description, and grade information.

I bought a Sotheby's 1933 Saint-Gaudens catalog from 2002 on the only 1933 Saint ever sold.  Most of the information is about the time period (1933) when the coin was made and the story that goes with the coin.  I'm not sold on David Tripp's information and the position he took working for the government, but it's still good to have. 

Looking now at SS Central America catalogs on that hoard.

Anybody else into auction catalogs ?

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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3 minutes ago, World Colonial said:

Only if it includes an area of interest, mostly the coins I collect. When I moved back in 2011 across the country, I had an accumulation I mostly threw away,  Too bulky and not enough of interest justifying the space or effort to move it.

Keeping catalogs just for the sake of catalogs I get your point. 

The thickest book I have from the HA FUN conference features the sale of a 1927-D Saint-Gaudens so that is a catalog I will be keeping for a very long time.  Had information on that particular coin I had never seen anywhere, not even in Roger's Saints book.

Coins on world currency and other U.S. coins were not as impressive and of less interest to me but still had good information.  But I could see how you'd want to eventually discard older ones unless it had a unique coin or section. 

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Auction catalogs are notoriously copy cat. Some of the earlier ones have original or insightful information, but only a few modern ones have anything original. Remember - their purpose is to tell stories that will stimulate people bid high and buy. Truth is in the rear view mirror and certainly not "closer than it appears."

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9 minutes ago, RWB said:

Auction catalogs are notoriously copy cat. Some of the earlier ones have original or insightful information, but only a few modern ones have anything original. Remember - their purpose is to tell stories that will stimulate people bid high and buy. Truth is in the rear view mirror and certainly not "closer than it appears."

Gotcha....even if 90% of the information is recycled on the coins I have interest in, the new stuff is still worth it to me.

The 1927-D FUN catalag had some letters on the coin's pedigree, comments from Steve Duckor, and I believe was 5 or 6 pages of information.  

Oh yeah, I was there for the auction....I videotaped it on my smartphone...friend next to me said if my hands were any higher I would have been in on the bid at $1.6 million !!! xD

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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I seem to have 100's of auction catalogs - just highlights which coins I should have bought years ago - i.e. not the ones I did xD

I have just bought another one from 1927 which gets cited alot in current auctions (will probably not actually get it until the end of February though) and lost out on another one from 1959 which went for >5x estimate :S

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I only keep auction catalogues if they can serve as a reference. Something like a Heritage FUN sale has a lot of coins, and it may have one or two detailed descriptions, but its not worth filling up space on my bookshelf. 

However, for really specialized collections, sometimes the auction catalogue can become the standard reference. For example, I recently purchased "The John W Adams Collection of Comitia Americana and related medals," put out by Stacks and written by John Kraljevich. Absolutely spectacular, detailed, and comprehensive work (even if it is only 150 pages or so).

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6 hours ago, ColonialCoinsUK said:

I seem to have 100's of auction catalogs - just highlights which coins I should have bought years ago - i.e. not the ones I did xD  I have just bought another one from 1927 which gets cited alot in current auctions (will probably not actually get it until the end of February though) and lost out on another one from 1959 which went for >5x estimate :S

Cited alot today ?  Wow...what coin(s) did it focus on ?  Surprised an auction catalog from 1927 would be cited today except in footnotes detailing a coin or type of coin's price trend.

Where was the bidding -- Ebay ?

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31 minutes ago, physics-fan3.14 said:

I only keep auction catalogues if they can serve as a reference. Something like a Heritage FUN sale has a lot of coins, and it may have one or two detailed descriptions, but its not worth filling up space on my bookshelf. 

However, for really specialized collections, sometimes the auction catalogue can become the standard reference. For example, I recently purchased "The John W Adams Collection of Comitia Americana and related medals," put out by Stacks and written by John Kraljevich. Absolutely spectacular, detailed, and comprehensive work (even if it is only 150 pages or so).

PF, for me, getting a few of the FUN catalogs last January was illuminating.  The thing was, I wasn't sure they were for anybody attending their auctions or only high-end bidders.   So I grabbed a few and put them in my backpack.  xD

The World Currency and U.S. Coins catalog ones are OK, nothing to want to get every year....but the Platinum Night Purple Book focused on the auction of the Duckor 1927-D  Saint (did you attend ?) was definitely a keeper for me.  Most of the information is on the HA website but it's nice to have it in print, too.  

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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1 hour ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Cited alot today ?  Wow...what coin(s) did it focus on ?  Surprised an auction catalog from 1927 would be cited today except in footnotes detailing a coin or type of coin's price trend.

Where was the bidding -- Ebay ?

The auction catalogue for 1927 for Prince d'Essling's collection on the coins & medals of the 1st Empire Napoleon I to Napoleon III - bought from an auction of numismatic literature. This gives the Essling/Ess/E numbers used for Napoleonic Medals.

The other references used for these are Bramsen (1907 which is actually an attempt to list these) and Julius (1932 which again is an auction catalogue of a private collection) which are the main ones but auction houses vary in terms of which and how many references they cite. As there are 1000's of Napoleonic medals none of these are complete and don't cover any of the restrikes which the Paris mint produced at various points - 1840's, post 1880, 1920's and 1970's.

My retirement project was to write the first proper reference book however enough collectors/auction houses have asked me so I have now started this - 20 year clock to publication is now ticking :S! (Using auction house pics as there is no way of buying examples of them all and almost any examples in silver are way beyond my budget and the gold ones can be worth more than my house:roflmao:)

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I "lucked" into 14 Bowers catalogs from 1979 - 1984 at a secondhand store last year.  Couldn't pass them up at 50c apiece.  Mostly Bowers & Merena Gallery or Bowers & Ruddy.  I was super thrilled when I picked them up but can't say I've referenced them more than a few times since.  As long as I have bookshelf space they've got a home.

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9 minutes ago, CRAWTOMATIC said:

I "lucked" into 14 Bowers catalogs from 1979 - 1984 at a secondhand store last year.  Couldn't pass them up at 50c apiece.  Mostly Bowers & Merena Gallery or Bowers & Ruddy.  I was super thrilled when I picked them up but can't say I've referenced them more than a few times since.  As long as I have bookshelf space they've got a home.

That's awesome.....wonder if they have any unique commentary or writings on Saints or 1907 High Reliefs ?

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On 1/9/2021 at 7:40 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Keeping catalogs just for the sake of catalogs I get your point. 

The thickest book I have from the HA FUN conference features the sale of a 1927-D Saint-Gaudens so that is a catalog I will be keeping for a very long time.  Had information on that particular coin I had never seen anywhere, not even in Roger's Saints book.

Coins on world currency and other U.S. coins were not as impressive and of less interest to me but still had good information.  But I could see how you'd want to eventually discard older ones unless it had a unique coin or section. 

I recently bought the Swiss Bank Corporation (now Sincona) catalog of the Sellschopp colonial Peru (and Bolivia) collection.  It has images of coins I collect that aren't available anywhere else.  The primary reason I wanted to buy it is to identify what else is out there that I might be able to eventually buy.  I will also eventually buy the Norweb catalogs for these series for the same reason.

I don't collect it anymore, but I wouldn't mind having a hard copy of the Bakewell collection offered by DNW around 2015.  (I have a soft copy.)  Same for Spinks sale of Remick's collection from 2006.  I also kept my copies of Millenia and Aureo & Calico's annual "Selection 500"  The latter are hard cover.  They also have a few older sales in their archives I would like to have for the images, same reason I bought Sellschopp.

Otherwise, can't say there is any other I really care about.  There are a few actual reference books for areas I do not collect I would buy if available at a reasonable price (like the Getz patterns) but otherwise, the majority of coins in any widely collected area (practically all US and most European) are easy enough to find in online catalogs or read up in COIN Facts.

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Seems the catalogs are really useful for obscure or really niche coins.

Since my favorites are Saint-Gaudens, Liberty DE's, and Morgans....I have book options for more information on the series.

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12 hours ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Seems the catalogs are really useful for obscure or really niche coins.

Since my favorites are Saint-Gaudens, Liberty DE's, and Morgans....I have book options for more information on the series.

Yes, but mostly for prominent or somewhat complete collections in the specialty.  Otherwise, it's an odd coin here or there on infrequent occasions if the series is actually scarce..  I have seen two mostly complete collections for my primary series in the last year (only two in about 20 years) but literally almost all very low quality or damaged.  Neither included much I was interested in buying.  Most recently, I bought a coin I grade XF, but these two collections didn't even have that.

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22 minutes ago, World Colonial said:

Yes, but mostly for prominent or somewhat complete collections in the specialty.  Otherwise, it's an odd coin here or there on infrequent occasions if the series is actually scarce..  I have seen two mostly complete collections for my primary series in the last year (only two in about 20 years) but literally almost all very low quality or damaged.  Neither included much I was interested in buying.  Most recently, I bought a coin I grade XF, but these two collections didn't even have that.

Yes....complete collections of obscure coins or foreign or ancient coins...something where you won't find Red Books or others on them.  Or if someone dumps a huge amount of MSDs or Saints, that would be worth having since you'd probably get information on some of the coins not available in the current book series on them.

I believe that for Heritage, most of their information might be repeated on-line.  When I get a chance, I'll double-check and report back.  But I am pretty sure that some of the stuff in the FUN catalog was not on the website when the 1927-D Saint got auctioned.  Plus, for some stuff, always good to have a print catalog -- you never know when something disappears off the web archives or is downsized.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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2 hours ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Yes....complete collections of obscure coins or foreign or ancient coins...something where you won't find Red Books or others on them.  Or if someone dumps a huge amount of MSDs or Saints, that would be worth having since you'd probably get information on some of the coins not available in the current book series on them.

I wouldn't consider any US regular issue coin (at minimum) "obscure".  (Specialization such as die varieties and errors, yes depending upon the coin or series.)  There is probably a reference on it somewhere and if it is recent, certainly a lot better than most other coinage.

For US coinage, depends upon how much interest someone has.  Even though I haven't bought a single US coin in over 15 years and have no plans to do so, I still find Coin Facts an interesting source.  It's mostly interesting to me for the survival estimates (inaccurate as it has to be) and the itemized list of the believed to be highest quality examples which I can use as a basis of comparison for the coins I collect.  However, I have an interest in it generally but seldom where I will "dig into the weeds".

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Well, I checked the HA FUN 2020 catalog that I have against the online commentary for the 1927-D Saint-Gaudens and it matched word-for-word....the only additional extra in the catalog was a picture of a letter from one of the owners of the coin in the 1940's.  I also checked the verbiage from a 1927-S Saint -- the same.

So it appears no additional insight or commentary from having the printed catalog.  Still, glad I have it and don't have to worry about anything lost online or downloading it myself.

Whether other auction houses put their commentaries online since 2000 or so and whether they match up word-for-word I don't know.  If I buy any non-HA catalogs, I'll let you all know.

For sure, older catalogs -- pre-2000 -- are the most likely to have information that didn't make it onto the internet in some part.

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3 hours ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Well, I checked the HA FUN 2020 catalog that I have against the online commentary for the 1927-D Saint-Gaudens and it matched word-for-word....the only additional extra in the catalog was a picture of a letter from one of the owners of the coin in the 1940's.  I also checked the verbiage from a 1927-S Saint -- the same.

So it appears no additional insight or commentary from having the printed catalog.  Still, glad I have it and don't have to worry about anything lost online or downloading it myself.

It's economics as I presume you know.  It's not "value add" measured by sufficiently higher bids to make it worth the auction firm's time to pay someone to do it.  

The information is often available (can't say always or even usually depending upon the coin) but just left out.

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2 hours ago, World Colonial said:

It's economics as I presume you know.  It's not "value add" measured by sufficiently higher bids to make it worth the auction firm's time to pay someone to do it.   The information is often available (can't say always or even usually depending upon the coin) but just left out.

Well, Heritage partnered with Roger Burdette to put out a 600-page book on Saints so there's that. xD

I'm curious what a Goldberg or Stacks or Superior catalog might have especially pre-2000.  THOSE might have commentaries or insights that aren't online or in print.  Nothing blockbuster-wise, but interesting observations, auction or sales prices, etc.

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2 hours ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Well, Heritage partnered with Roger Burdette to put out a 600-page book on Saints so there's that. xD

I'm curious what a Goldberg or Stacks or Superior catalog might have especially pre-2000.  THOSE might have commentaries or insights that aren't online or in print.  Nothing blockbuster-wise, but interesting observations, auction or sales prices, etc.

Back in the 1980's, I had a subscription with Bowers & Merena to their catalogs and price lists, which included the Beebee collection.  I'm not going to claim to remember that much of it (don't have it anymore) but to my recollection, the auction descriptions didn't differ much from now by being better.

The main difference that I have seen in more recent years is that the auction descriptions for the most expensive coins are longer now, even when there is virtually nothing of substance to say about the coin which couldn't easily be said with a much briefer one.

Take a look at the descriptions in the Heritage sale of the Partrick collection.  One I read today is the 1792 AU-58 silver Getz pattern.  This description is long which makes sense, as it's a distinctive coin where a lot can be said of it.

How true is this of hardly any coin at a similar or higher value?  (There are many, not a few.)

My answer is virtually none.  It's disproportionately marketing, exactly as should be expected.  That's what the consigners want and are paying for.

If you want to check it out for yourself, you can do so at the Newman Numismatic Portal.  I only searched world coinage there, so you may see something different than I did.

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I have a ton (perhaps literally) of auction catalogs. I try to keep specific ones out of storage, those with items of interest.

As an aside. I am a Liberty Nickel collector and the 1913 has always been of interest. I do have every auction catalog that included a 1913, going back to the Olsen sale in 1944. Many I have duplicates of. The hardest to find was the Numisatic Fine Arts sale of May 1946 by Edward Gans and Henry Grunthal. Had to borrow the ANA copy to get my first look.

There are 15 catalogs currently. Of note is the most expensive was the Farouk catalog by Sotheby's from 1954. This is also the one with the least information. (Just a mention that the Liberty Nickels includes a 1913, which some dealers convinced them to sell as it's own lot)

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1 hour ago, LNCS said:

Of note is the most expensive was the Farouk catalog by Sotheby's from 1954. This is also the one with the least information. (Just a mention that the Liberty Nickels includes a 1913, which some dealers convinced them to sell as it's own lot)

Does that have the 1933 Saint-Gaudens listing ?

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On 1/10/2021 at 1:07 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

That's awesome.....wonder if they have any unique commentary or writings on Saints or 1907 High Reliefs ?

I haven't had time this week to go through them and check.  But the Oct. 1982 auction for the New York Public Library has some good info on certain Colonial issues, a unique 50c over 1c overstrike, and certain medals.  Once I get to go through these I'll keep an eye out for Saints or High Relief info for you.

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Well, I checked another HA FUN catalog and again it matched up word-for-word with what is on the HA website for the actual coin auction (at least it's up now, who knows in the future xD ).

If I want new information or commentary on certain coins, I'm going to either have to pre-date the auction companies presence on the internet (c. 2000 for most) or go back to the 1970's and 1980's for specialty catalogs from firms that don't have online auctions or don't re-use the catalog info on the internet word-for-word.

Oh well, lesson learned at minimal cost. xD  Catalogs from firms no longer around -- Paramount, Superior, etc. -- may still be worth buying.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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On 1/10/2021 at 1:57 PM, CRAWTOMATIC said:

I "lucked" into 14 Bowers catalogs from 1979 - 1984 at a secondhand store last year.  Couldn't pass them up at 50c apiece.  Mostly Bowers & Merena Gallery or Bowers & Ruddy.  I was super thrilled when I picked them up but can't say I've referenced them more than a few times since.  As long as I have bookshelf space they've got a home.

Probably $150 or so if you bought them on Ebay, unless they were in bad condition.

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