Thursday, July 23, 2015

I have sorted the prices realized (in a spreadsheet) for the recently completed Simmons Gallery communion token auction. Here are the results by price group:

Price Range      Number of Tokens
-----------      ----------------
       $170           1 (lot 802)
 $50 - $100          12
 $25 -  $50          52
 $15 -  $25          60
 $10 -  $15          88
  under $10          36
  unsold              6
-----------      ----------------
  total             255


Bob Merchant

Friday, July 3, 2015

Market Watch

Summer is here and the marketplace has heated up. Usually folks are at the beach, but maybe the sharks in North Carolina have chased them away. In any case, we had 163 CT sales in June with more auction action this time around: 111 auctions to be exact. Still, BIN sales accounted for about one-third of the activity.
   One seller in particular has contributed significantly to the uptick. Steve Hayden -- a respected Civil War and good-for token specialist -- has begun to offer the remnants of the Burzinski collection on ebay. I know Steve, and I have purchased many CTs from him -- great guy! He offered five USA CTs, all sold on June 21st. These pieces led the way in terms of price -- bidding was active. Clearly, the USA CT market is strong; however, one power-bidder walked away with four of the five pieces.
This CT is a stock design that was
used in PA and VT.
   Seventy-two CTs sold in the C range, whereas 77 pieces traded hands in the B range. Usually, the statistics are the other way around, but many fine pieces were offered in the $20 to just-under $50 range. Is this a market shift? Maybe. But nice eighteenth century tokens have been hot all along -- we just have not seen much new material lately. Also, the quality has been high this month.
   Only six CTs sold in the BB range, above $50 but below $75. This leaves eight pieces at the top: two selling below $100 in the A range, and six bringing over a C-note. All six of the AA pieces were won in auctions. As mentioned above, five of them were USA CTs.
   The top CT was way up there: A round, stock token from South Ryegate, VT (BZ6078/AB416). This pieces has also been attributed to Pittsburgh, PA (AB333). It was in lovely condition, attracting 11 bidders (the largest crowd for any CT in June). They entered 17 bids overall. Two last-second bids decided the outcome. It sold for a whopping $379.
   Next up, a CT from the 3rd Reformed PC in NYC (BZ5346/AB106) was hammered down for $293. This oval was also in great condition. Some of you might remember that a trio of these in three different metals (copper, lead, white metal) came up for auction about two years ago in a StacksBowers sale. They were hot then, and they still are! Nine bidders vied for this one, casting 13 bids. Four bidders were there at the end, but last second bids made it a two-way battle.
This is a large round CT at 38mm
with nice details and a complete
date on the reverse: 1/18/1870.
   Two CTs sold for $208 in separate auctions. First, an Allegheny, PA, oval (BZ339/AB186) attracted 19 bids from 10 bidders, with two bidders outpacing the field at the very end. This one was profiled (twice) on this blog in September 2013; it is a relatively common USA CT, but scarce to rare overall. These ovals come in two varieties: Type1 is cast; Type2 is struck. This one was a struck one (and in nice shape). Second, a Philadelphia CT (BZ5651/AB322), dated January 18, 1870, attracted 15 bids from 9 bidders. I have not seen this one offered before. It was in new condition. The piece is a large round, depicting a tabernacle (tent) with cloud overhead.
   The last of the USA CTs was a worn round piece attributed to Albany, NY (BZ168/AB71) that sold for $172. This is a stock token with script AC on the obverse and a lathe-work band on the reverse. Bason named James Maxwell as the maker -- similar CTs were used at other PCs in NY and Ohio. Eight bidders were waving their paddles on this one, casting 12 bids -- so, despite the wear, it was not ignored. It is a rare piece.
   The last CT to cross the block in the AA category was a round piece from the Hurst National Scotch Church in England (BZ3241). It is a silver piece. It took six bids to nudge it just over the cut-off with a hammer of $103.
   Of note, the two A category pieces were BIN sales of Canadian CTs that had been for sale for several months. Someone either thought about them for a while and decided to give it a go, or a new face in the crowd snatched them up: either way, they are seldom seen CTs (as least for ebay). Both sold for $75. The first one was an oval from St. Gabriel PC in Montreal (CE226A), and the second one was a crude, hand-hewed rectangle from McLennan's Mountain in Nova Scotia (NS254B1) -- I liked that second one for its primitive look.

Finally, the Simmons Gallery auction was completed in mid-June. Did anyone bid? If so, I think readers of this blog would enjoy a brief report of how it went. Add a comment and let us know!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Market Watch

As we approach summer, the CT market has been slow but steady with 145 CTs trading hands in May.
   There was only half as many auctions on ebay, as 49% of all sales were at fixed-prices. As before, half of these BIN sales went at BO prices, so do not be shy about asking for a better deal.
   Of note, for those of you who are keeping up with the price-points, I use the original asking price for the data; therefore, the prices that are tallied are somewhat higher than they actually were. Still, this shows how inexpensive most CTs are to collect.
   This might change over time, as more books are written, bringing others into the fold. But certainly, CT collecting is the domain of the true collector who seeks out interesting items for the pure enjoyment of the hunt and the insights that research provides.
   Maybe one of our readers is working on a book right this moment -- I hope so, as I would enjoy reading it. Writing a coin or token book is fun, and it is certainly a "bucket-list" item that makes collecting all that more rewarding.
   Of the 145 pieces that sold this past month, eighty-eight (or 60%) of them sold below $20 in the C range. Some nice ones were in the mix, so be on the lookout next time around. In the B range, we had 55 CTs trading somewhere between  $20 and $50 -- many of these CTs were sold at BIN prices with maybe a quarter actually going for less than $20 at BO. These figures only left two CTs in the upper ranges: one was bid to $57, and the other was sold at a BIN price of $105. The latter is big money for a CT, so we will take a closer look at that one.
Here is an example of the Kingston CT.
Note large letters with N close to R.
This is a "rare" piece not seen on this blog before.
   The top CT was a Canadian piece that has not made an appearance on this blog. It was an oval, dated 1823, from Kingston, Ontario, that was issued by the Saint Andrews PC. This piece is cataloged in Charlton as CW276B2. It was sold by a dealer who previously had it for sale on the V-Coins site at $95 (you do not see many CTs on this site, so ebay was obviously the way to go here).
   The Kingston oval was special for another reason. It appears to be the rare "large letters" variety (please correct me if I am wrong on this). The Charlton guide lists the "small letters" piece at $60 in extra-fine, but the "large letters" variety is simply listed as "rare." The guidebook goes on to say that the latter piece was produced in 1867 during the pastorate of Rev. William Maxwell Inglis (1863-1870). Consequently, it is a completely different CT from the "small" variety that was used in 1841 (per Charlton).
   Now you might be thinking, wait a minute, the piece is dated 1823. This is because the date reflects the first group of tokens produced for this church. The first tokens were rectangular with scalloped corners; the lettering is in an upright orientation. I can tell you that not many Canadian CTs had scalloped corners, and those that did, came from the same general region.
   On balance, this sale was a nice buy for the specialist; where else can you find one of these?
   The St. Andrews church is profiled here: St. Andrews Church. There is concise history provided that describes the old stone church built about 1822 and the new church that replaced it when the old church burned in April of 1888. This is one of the great aspects (in my opinion) about CTs -- namely, there are many historical resources out there to discover that can enliven the pieces.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Market Watch

April has passed, and we are into Spring. The CT marketplace was slow during this transition with only 86 CTs sold. Nearly two-thirds of these sales were from fixed-price sales (BIN); although many items went for BO -- so, do not be afraid to make offers. Last month there were 221 sales with 30 more than that in February.
   The large percentage of BIN sales provided a different mix of prices in April with 40% of pieces selling in the B range (most of them between $20 and $35). All told, 50 CTs sold below $20 in the C range, whereas 35 CTs sold in the B range. Only one piece edged into the BB range (over $50) at a BIN price of $58.
Here is an example of the brass Mt. Pleasant CT.
   Many of the BIN offerings came from cobwrightfortishe, as he is selling off a large holding. The top piece was one of his offerings: a brass rectangle with notched corners from Mt. Pleasant in Liverpool. It was in excellent condition. This piece is cataloged as BZ4298 and was described as "rare" by the seller. It was produced in the mid-nineteenth century. As mentioned above, it sold for $58 -- a low price when you compare with other token groups.
   Other runner-ups included an oval from the John Street Relief Church that was dated May 29, 1800. It was a very nice piece with casting sprue evident. I did not find it in BZ; is it a Glasgow piece? Seven bidders cast nine bids to produce a $48 hammer price.
   Third-up was a dated -- 1855 -- stock token with burning bush from Orilla, Ontario (CW302; BZ5422). This one sold for a BIN price of $47.

   As you can see from the previous post, we have a large auction coming up from Simmons Gallery, so there are collecting opportunities coming up this month. I have bid in the last several SG auctions and have been always been pleased -- it helps that I always got something! Last time, I got a heart. So, good luck everyone!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Auction Announcement: Bob Merchant Collection of CTs

Auction Announcement:

Featuring the Bob Merchant collection of Communion Tokens, Part 5.

SIMMONS GALLERY



(See below pictures for more info.)

 









MAILBID 73 - Closing Wednesday 24 June 2015 at 12 noon (England time)


The fifth part of the Bob Merchant collection of communion tokens is set to be auctioned on 24 June 2015 by Simmons Gallery. There are many interesting pieces in this sale, including a rare communion token from the 1590's (lot 802), 17th century tokens, diamond shaped tokens, heart shaped tokens, brass tokens, etc.

The PDF catalogs are ready for downloading at the Simmons Gallery web site:
http://www.simmonsgallery.co.uk/Tokens/Auction . The download links are on the right side of the page.

Images of all communion tokens can be found in the illustrated PDF catalogs, and on the web site.

For additional information:

SIMMONS GALLERY, PO BOX 104, LEYTONSTONE, LONDON E11 1ND, UK
TELEPHONE: 020 8989 8097 (International + 44 20 8989 8097)
EMAIL: info@simmonsgallery.co.uk

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Hoard of CTs from Mearns


Here is a posting from one of our blog members, Bud.
   As a novice communion token collector, not only am I always learning new and interesting things about my hobby, but I’m also continually defining and redefining my collecting goals.  Initially my interest was borne out of mere curiosity about these relics of which I’d never heard.  As I read more and more about CTs and the circumstances of their use, I came to feel connected to the communicants who presented them at the Supper and to the church leadership that felt compelled to issue them.
   I am a church pastor and have occasionally used biblical coins as touchstones in sermons or children’s messages, so the study of communion tokens was an understandable progression.  I am also a member of the American Numismatic Association and have attended several national conventions, at which I’ve been fascinated by the educational exhibits, so when I saw that this year’s ANA Summer Seminar included a course on building competitive exhibits, my wheels started turning.  Here was an opportunity to do something I loved and share my faith in a new and wider format.
"I saw a CT hoard for sale ... and I thought,
that would make a wonderful part of my exhibit."
   As I began conceptualizing my yet-to-built exhibit (I know, way ahead of myself!), I saw a CT hoard for sale on eBay.  And I thought, “That would make a wonderful part of my exhibit,” not really believing it would be within my reach on my modest budget.  I put the hoard on my watch list, wondering what exorbitant amount it would finally sell for.
   My wife, although perhaps not completely understanding my passion for CTs, supports it.  As the keeper of the family budget, she sets aside a monthly amount from our discretionary spending for me to purchase tokens.  On occasion, when special opportunities present themselves, I’m allowed to splurge a bit.  In the months prior to the hoard appearing for sale, we had agreed on a special one-time amount for me to buy a sizable (for me) and important (to me) portion of another collector’s treasures.  However, a fortunate error occurred: she somehow budgeted more than I had requested.
   We had a friend at our home for breakfast on the morning the hoard auction was ending, and during our meal I was describing to my wife and our friend my surprise at how little activity it had created.  I had estimated that the hoard would close at $1,000 (a reasonably educated guess, I thought), far beyond my means.  It was then that my wife reminded me that she had already budgeted an additional--and unused--amount for the month, and she encouraged me to bid on the hoard.  So as she and our friend settled into conversation, I got online, and after two or three bids I was the proud—and surprised—owner of 138 tokens of Mearns Parish of Renfrewshire (Burzinski #4706), Scotland.
   The tokens are of tables 1 through 4, with #4 more heavily represented.  My assumption was that Mearns had issued tokens for those tables only, and tables 1 through 3 most frequently, hence greater numbers of table 4 pieces had survived.  This theory was dashed when I noticed that Burzinski pictures a token of table 7.  Remember, I said I was a novice.
   Beyond what’s inscribed on the token, I know nothing about Mearns Parish.  The token is dated 1849 (in Roman numerals), with the name of Minister Donald Mackellar, both on its obverse.  The reverse is the common 1 Corinthians 11:24; “This do in remembrance of me.” In his reference, O. D. Cresswell lists the token as #4155; and Kerr & Lockie, #963 in theirs.
   If any reader can further enlighten me about Mearns Parish or Reverend Mackellar, I’d appreciate it.  Beyond the basics, I’ve not been able to discover anything.
   My Summer Seminar class is in late June.  My wife will be enjoying several days with a high school friend at a spa in Arizona while I’m in a stuffy classroom in Colorado Springs.  We’re arguing about who has the better vacation plans!
   Perhaps I’ll see you in the exhibit area at an ANA show in the future.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Market Watch March

Spring weather is finally here! But do not get too distracted by the butterflies, as the CT market continues to reward those who patiently wait for rare and curious items to surface. That is what happened this past month: two rare hearts, an unusual CT variety,  plus some mysterious items.
   All told, there were 221 CTs that traded hands in March. As is typical, most CTs were hammered down inexpensively in the C range with 149 pieces trading below $20. Sixty-six CTs sold just above that in the B range: this seems to be the "sweet" spot, as many great tokens were sold in the upper $20s and into the $30s. Above the the $50 mark were only six pieces. Three of them sold below $75 in the BB range, whereas three others sold for $88, about $118 and about $185 respectively -- the latter two pieces sold at BO prices that were below the initial asking prices, so we can only guess how good the deals were.
This 1762 heart from Kirkurd is a rare one. A small d can be seen squeezed
against the rim of the upper right lobe of the heart. It is distinctive and has
a specific meaning that we can only guess what it is. Any ideas?
   Two of the top three CTs were small hearts from Kirkurd, dated 1762. They were well-worn pieces, each with an ashen patina that appeared free of damage -- solid and attractive pieces. Both were listed by cobwrightfortishe. The hearts did not last long.
   The first one sold quickly at the $88 BIN price. I have not seen this CT for sale before: not at Simmons and not in previous collections sold on ebay; needless to say, it is a rare piece (cataloged as BK691/BZ3938).
   The second heart sold at less than the $185 listing (usually dealers will allow a ten to twenty percent discount on BO, so $150 seems about right). The second heart was a variety that is listed in Burzinski (BZ3939), but according to cobwrightfortishe, it was missing from his (and many other) collections. The variety is interesting, as it includes the addition of a small, lower-case, d that is squeezed into the upper right lobe of the heart. What does this mean? Off-hand, I do not know of any other CTs that have this kind of deliberate addition. Thinking loosely, I am reminded of the Albany Church pennies with and without a small script, capital D; the these pieces were for the collection plate as far as we know, so the D has been interpreted as a monetary unit. Certainly, the Kirkurd KKd piece is rare. I was able to find one other in the W.J. Noble sale catalog from July 2000.
   Both Kirkurd pieces sold for big money. Both were well bought, and hopefully, they went into the same collection. If you got one of them, let us know. And, if you have a theory about the small d, let us know that too.
   The other top CT to sell this month was a cut-rectangle of relatively late proportions (27x21) with the inscription: For a Friend of Jesus. Burzinski listed similar pieces that are oval (BZ7486 & BZ7487), but he did not know about this rectangle. Burzinski suggested that the other pieces were used at Roslin (BZ7486) and Edinburgh (BZ7487). It is said (by BZ) to be a stock token design. Perhaps this outlier is from a third church, or it is a pattern piece. Either way, it sold quickly at a BO price that was lower than the initial $118 offering. As before, cobwrightfortishe was the seller.
   There were several other remarkable items that were sold this past month. An old copper piece (described as being from Mexico) with a chalice counterstamp sold cheaply at $29 with 16 bids. That's a lot of bids for only a $29 piece. Also, a triangular CT that was unattributed sold for a healthy $67 with 9 bids -- I was unable to find this piece in Burzinski. Maybe one of our readers can identify it. Also of interest, three St. Louis 1850 Canadian pieces (BZ6487-89) sold for low prices ranging from $21 to $36; these are neat pieces that come in many varieties.
   And so, it was an interesting month with some very nice CT going to happy owners.