Total Pageviews

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


The July-August summer season is fairly quiet in most of the fine art auction fields, and Numismatics is no exception.  On the sell side very little is being offered and on the buy side a nervousness pervades the market.  On the very high end top buyers are still diversifying out paper and snapping up anything of very high quality.

The Bru Sale offered opportunities in both ancients and medieval gold this spring-summer,  like the beautiful portrait stater of Ptolemy I above - the first coin with a portrait of a living king.  The coin hammered at 24,000 Euros which amounts to about $35,000 including the hammer fee.  This was a fair price by historical standards, for a rare well preserved historically interesting coin, even if the reverse is a bit off center.  And compared to other forms of fine art it still must be considered a bargain. 

The price was especially attractive  considering the same coin might have sold for many times that amount when certain high profile bidders were active a few months earlier.  But at least one of these bidders has thus far failed to honor several million dollars of purchases. It remains to be seen if this buyer re-emerges at the fall auctions.

Of course it's hard to measure purchases at the high end because very little true high end material is coming to market.  Morton and Eden auctioned off 4 gorgeous Sicilian Silver pieces from the signing period (Circa 400 BCE) at over a million British pounds total.  And Heritage auctioned off several Judaean rarities at their Shoshana Collection Sale, where a prototype Jewish war shekel and a rare Gold Judaea Capta Aureus both went for over a million dollars.

But the middle and low end buyers are understandably tight-fisted and nervous at the moment, as they wait to see whether the global economy continues to sputter along, or whether it simply collapses. 

The mess in Europe is currently causing the US dollar and US dollar denominated debt (!) to act as a safe haven investment - to the detriment of all other investments.  How long this can and will continue is anybody's guess.

But the moment doubt creeps into the investment consciousness concerning the long term viability of the US dollar, you can be sure that safe havens that have proven their value of the course of thousands of years will continue to appreciate.

When you consider the fact that Government Debt is now close to 100 percent of GDP and total debt is 350 percent of GDP - and the the US Central Bank is currently purchasing over 70 percent of all Government Debt - that time shouldn't be far off.

No comments:

Post a Comment