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:

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.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New Kingston NY Communion Token

I have been digging up some info on this CT from New Kingston, NY. It is amazing what is available on the Internet, but it takes some sleuthing.
This CT comes from Steve Tannenbaum via Steve Hayden.
It dates to the latter half of the 19th century.
     First, I looked up Kingston, NY -- not the same as New Kingston -- but there is a connection. The town of Kingston was established in about 1651. It was located in the southeast part of the state about two miles west of the Hudson River. The town was burned by the British in October, 1777. The town was of strategic importance as a granary for much of the area. It was also the capital of the region.
     After the burning of the town, a land speculator named Robert Livingston made a gift of 5,000 acres in the Platteskill Stream area to the "Kingston Sufferers" who were displaced by the fire. Livingston had purchased many shares of the Hardenburgh Patent in eastern NY and wanted to stimulate settlement there. This patent originally represented the largest land grant in the colonies -- many parcels had been sold to speculators hoping to attract settlers.
     The piece that Livingston had gifted was located just 50 miles northwest of Kingston. Although few of the "sufferers" chose to settle in this place, some of their descendants moved there in the years to come. The earliest settlers represented Dutch, Scottish and Yankee pioneers.
     In 1848 a small store was opened by Swart & Birdsall, providing a market center for the small settlement. By the mid-1850s, there was a post-office, blacksmith shop, and a shoe shop with several fine houses clustered along the main road. A water-powered woodworking mill was constructed in 1869 -- many barns were built, plus a few houses, and the Presbyterian Church. A wagon shop and several dairy farms were also part of the economic history of the town.
     The New Kingston Presbyterian Church was established in 1853 with the first building constructed in the following year. A new church was built in 1900 -- a small, one-story frame building. Since it was a small town, the congregation was not likely to be a large one.
     If anyone knows more history from this church, please add a comment.
     I got the NK CT from the last Baltimore Expo -- the high price of $297 is what I paid for it. As you can see, the picture shows the token in its original holder from the Steve Tannenbaum collection. I do not know if there are really only two known, but I liked the attractive script on the obverse. The reverse is blank but for a pair of concentric circles. It appears that this CT was not used -- or used once.
     The script is challenging to make out, but it says: UPC. The trick to reading it (in my opinion) is to recognize that the letters do not connect, but overlap.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Market Watch

It was an active month of auction activity on ebay despite the cold weather just about everywhere in the USA. All told, there were 257 CTs that crossed the block in February.
   Nearly three-fourths of the CTs sold in the C range, that is priced below $20. As I always say, there were (and continues to be) many collecting opportunities out there each month. As compared to other token categories, CTs are a bargain. And with all the guidebooks available and websites that detail the churches that issued these fascinating pieces, it is a great pursuit that does not force you to skip meals. One-hundred eighty-four CTs sold in the lowest range. Next, in the B range, there were 71 sales between $20 and $49; and above that, only two pieces sold above the $50 mark in the BB range. I should add that two of the B category CTs sold for $49 -- very close!
   The top CT was sold by cobwrightfortishe at a BIN price of $62. The piece was a cut-rectangle from Walls Parish on the Orkney Islands, dated 1856 (cataloged as KL42-1290 and BZ7120). Orkney is a small series of about 67 pieces with two from Walls. There is no way of knowing how scarce this piece is except to note that this relatively high price for a late date CT was paid in full with the CT selling quickly after listing.
Here is one of the large size pieces from the
44th Street UPC in NYC.
   The second CT was sold by comtok at auction with a hammer price of $51. This one was a USA piece from the 44th Street United Presbyterian Church (UPC) in New York City, NY (Bason-109 and BZ7033). Three bidders spotted it, casting six bids; the winner waited until the last and cast a single bid to take it home. Wish I had been there, as this was a great deal! There are two sizes for this one according to the catalogs: Burzinski lists one at 28x19mm, whereas Bason has it at 12x18mm. Otherwise, the design is the same with incuse RPC on a rounded corner rectangle with blank reverse. The one that sold was the smaller variety. Here is the link: USA CT from 44th Street NYC.
   Of note, there was a group lot of twelve so-called "antique post-medieval" CTs sold on February 18th for nearly $50, but this was a misattribution. Instead, it was a grouping of eleven jetons (counting tokens) from Nuremburg and one lead piece that I could not decipher. Although they were made in Germany, several of them were produced for use in France, hence the fleurs de lis. They are not CTs, not a one, but they are old (1500s and maybe a bit earlier) and sold for market price.
   Finally, there is talk of a get together for CT collectors in Baltimore, MD -- maybe at the 2015 Fall Expo or the Spring Expo the next year.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Market Watch

2015 started out with a bang. The marketplace is Hot!
     Many CTs traded hands in January: 754 tokens were sold, plus a lot of 138 tokens from an old church hoard. These figures compare strongly with the combined total of 500+ CTs sold for the last two months of 2014.
A communion token?
     Of note, the ebay seller scotscalder reported that he was selling off a large collection of 522 CTs. The sales started straight-away on Jan 1st and continued off and on all month -- about 200 tokens sold thus far. Another major seller was richardigr, also a scottish dealer, who sold half, or more, as many.
     Most of the CTs sold for under $20 in the C range -- a whopping 596 tokens! Moving up in price, there were 145 CTs to be had under $50 in the B range. Only 13 CTs were hammered down above this: nine in the BB range, three in the A range, and only one soaring above $100 in AA territory. As mentioned in this blog many times before, there are many good deals to be had in this series. A nice collection from all over Scotland can be built for little money.
     Some of the bargains available for low prices included a CT from Truro, Nova Scotia (NS304), that sold for a  meager $38 on Jan 19th. This is the first CT made in Canada and only the second one reported in the blog. Another interesting token was an unidentified lead round from Boxtel -- only four bidders took the risk with the winner spending just $20. Is this a CT? Let us know if you have an answer. There is a town of Boxtel in the Netherlands -- a Dutch piece?
Regimental CT from Edinburgh.
     The top four pieces included two Scottish and two Irish pieces. The first one was perhaps the most interesting of the lot: a regimental CT from Edinburgh (72nd Regiment). This round token (BZ6200, KL52-69) attracted four bidders with two of them battling it out, casting six bids overall. The piece was hammered down at $75 -- a reasonable price for a token that is rarely seen on the market. This particular one appeared new with some with dull gray toning and a few scratches.
     Next up we have a stock token design: a cut rectangle from Saltcoats Gaelic FC, dated 1843 (BZ6147, KL44-640). This is a collector's token, as the token design type is common.  Tokens from Gaelic churches are not so common, however. Two bidders were toying with this one when a third bidder entered the room at the very last instant to win it at $77.
     The other A range token was an Irish one from Belfast PC, County Antrim. It was a simple rectangle -- as are many Irish pieces -- with just a 2/CC on the obverse (BZ1365, M256D-E?). Six bids were cast by four bidders to produce $87 at the hammer.
     Finally, the only CT to reach the highest AA designation sold for a heathy sum of $150. It was another rectangle from Ballycopeland PC in Millisle, County Down (BZ763, M30A). This one attracted five bidders with the sixth bid winning the prize.
     Did I mention a church hoard? Yes, I did. There were 138 pieces from Mearns Parish in Renfrewshire (BZ4706) that were offered. The cut rectangles looked new in the pictures; Tables I through IV were represented. The bids started slowly -- folks were probably thinking: Do I need all of these? -- but then it took off with two bidders competing in the last hours. The lot sold for $436 -- about $3 per token! Here is the link: CT hoard of 138 tokens. Hopefully, there is a good story behind these CTs. We would all like to hear it, so if you know something, shout it out!