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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fall Auction update

Above is pictured the famous Una and the Lion Victoria coronation commemorative proof/medal.  It was just auctioned of by Kuenker/Hess Divo in an auction replete with rare and interesting gold coins and medals.  This medal (or proof coin) was estimated at 25000 CHF (swiss francs) and hammered down at 90,000 CHF which is about 115,000 dollars all in.  This was a particularly clean and well provenanced version of a medal that generally hammers for about half that amount in Near Uncirculated condition.  Clearly, high end investors wishing to acquire a near-perfect specimen were willing to pay up to get it.

There has been debate whether to consider this a "proof coin" or a "medallion" - though the distinction, which once held the value down to the $25,000 to $30,000 dollar range, is becoming purely academic.  The mintage for this piece is thought to be in 300-400 range: extremely low for a coin, high for a "proof issue" and low-average for a medal of this type.

It is difficult to see how the artificial distinctions that have been so much in vogue for determining price since the world went off a gold linkage in 1971 (medals vs proofs vs coinage), will continue to hold sway as gold returns to the center of the currency debate.

After all, for 4000 years of numismatics value was simply a function of weight of precious metal, rarity and historical interest.  Distinctions of classification were useful for historians, but meaningless in the market place. 

In this Kuender/Hess Divo Auction Many other early modern and modern medals and coins of size, rarity and historical interest went for similarly fantastic prices. 

Many other auctions, offering selections of relatively common coins and medals have not fared as well.  Pieces of middling quality and those that are relatively plentiful even in higher grade still have a market, but that market is shrinking as the disposable income of the middle class shrinks.

I don't look for these trends to end any time soon.

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