Auction Trends

Q: Regarding the current price of patterns: I thought that the patterns in the Bass collection went relatively reasonably. In fact, I was a bit surprised at how low some of the prices were. (Because I was on the buying side of the market, I was pleased by this fact.) On the other hand, I thought the prices in the Eliasberg auction were on the high side. I was unable to get any patterns from that auction. Were your impressions of the prices in these auctions similar? - Mark Rush

A: Yes, to your first statement and no to the second. I'll explain. At the time of the last Eliasberg sale, the coins seemed to go for reasonable prices under the circumstances of the coins having a terrific pedigree, which can add 10 to 20 percent and sometimes more to a coin's price. Immediately after the sale, some of the patterns were liquidated for any number of reasons. Frequently they are sold at lower levels. If you want a particular coin than you must compete for it and not rely on finding it as an after auction discard. The Bass sale only seems cheap because: 1. The pattern market was and still is overstocked with great rarities and much sought after coins that came about from private collections, not just by auctions, but also private treaty sales, and fortunately for buyers, all at one time. 2. These great collections were collected by collectors who had similar interests. For example: the sought after 50 cent pattern coins of 1877 fell substantially because there is a good selection available at the same time and the people who collected them are now not buyers of these coins but sellers of them. They were wealthy collectors. Their elimination from the pattern market has a dampening effect. In time the coins will be absorbed and the prices will rise to realistic levels. If you have some spare change, you should be buying patterns now as my guess, if: at or near, recent levels. The dealers may be under more selling pressure now than usual. Good buying opportunities abound. - Copyright David Cassel