Saturday, October 19, 2013

UK Communion Token Auction Ends

The Simmons Gallery auction of 364 Scottish CTs (plus a token die and die trial piece) from the Bob Merchant Collection ended earlier this week on October 15. I hope you got something, as there were many nice pieces that went for affordable prices. There were many other tokens too!
     Ninety percent of the Scottish CTs found buyers, as only 37 pieces received no bids. There were many inexpensive CTs to be had with 60% selling at or below $20 (220 pieces). On the other end, only nine CTs sold for over $50 (just over 2% of the total). The rest crossed the block in the middle range.
     These prices certainly invite new collectors into the fold since the buy-in is easy on the wallet. At these prices, no one would find fault with a casual collector buying a couple of CTs and carrying them around for show and tell. Even at the Presbyterian Church, you will find some raised eyebrows and inquisitive expressions, as few parishioners realize that CTs were part of their church history.
     The two varieties of square CTs dated 1815 from Auchterarder in Perth (pictured in a previous posting leading up to the auction) sold on low end of the scale at about $12 a piece -- a bargain! At the high end, the two-piece mold sold for a cool $800 (this was the start bid, so it appears that only one bid was forwarded). I would have liked the mold, but my wife was not as enthused.
This rather plain looking cut rectangle was bid to $88,
as the piece was probably needed to complete a collection.
We are not so surprised when an early piece with hand-cut
lettering brings big bucks, but a cut rectangle dated 1845?
This goes to show that only the dedicated collector who has
focused on a particular shire or church really knows what is
rare and what is common. So how rare is it?
     Among the CTs that sold for over $50, there were three pieces that sold for $88 each. One of them was a Glasgow-styled square dated 1830 from Ardrossan in Ayr (B485) in VF condition. The other two were cut rectangles: one from New Church in Ayr dated 1855 (B611) in nearly VF condition, and one from Dalmellington in Ayr dated 1845 in VF. The connection seems obvious, but who would have guessed -- it appears that at least two collectors were vying for CTs from Ayr. I imagine that they were striving to complete a set from this shire. Now we know -- or can guess -- that these pieces are "hard."
     In contrast, the other six pieces in this high-priced group were from all over the place: Aberdeen, Kirkcudbright, Lanark(2), Moray, and yes, one more from Ayr (Old Church).
     Up to now I have been reviewing only the Scottish CTs, as the Irish and World CTs presented a completely different story. This is the domain of serious collectors. In short, these CTs brought very strong prices. For the 33 Irish CTs, only two stock tokens went cheaply (at $8 a piece), whereas the rest (but for one) sold for over $50 each. Twenty-one pieces brought over $100 with three of these bringing twice that.
     The top three Irish pieces were from Macosquin County in Londonderry (B4365), Donacloney in Down (B1797), and Portglenone in Donegal (5642). They were all primitive CTs with no more than a pair of letters to identify the parish or minister. I confess to knowing very little about Irish CTs, but I am intrigued (but also happy to save my dollars until I learn a bit more).
     Finally, the world tokens brought a wide range of prices with the highest priced pieces bringing over $500. A CT from the Free Church of Scotland at Calcutta in India brought $512, whereas a CT from the Scotch Presbyterian Church at Florence in Italy also brought $512. But the big winner was one from the Scottish Church at Isle of Man: it brought $622! Wow! This is a lot of token!
     Certainly, there are serious collectors out there. Keep in mind, however, that many collectors spend many more dollars on Civil War Tokens, Saloon Tokens and the like.

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