Sunday, November 17, 2013

Market Watch

This Market Watch reviews ebay auctions from November 10 through November 16. It was a busy week with 122 CTs sold. Just yesterday, 93 CTs were sold, so most of the action was on Saturday. Prices spanned the whole range, so everyone had a chance to get something. Here is one of the pleasures of CT collecting: You can add one or two pieces each week for reasonable dollars!
     I decided to change the rating system this week. HD and D descriptors will no longer be applied, as many fine CTs are desirable even at lower prices. Instead, I will use a more intuitive model. Here we go: AA tokens are those that sell at or over the $100 mark, whereas A tokens are those that sell for less but cross the $75 mark.  BB tokens are those that sell in the upper middle range of $50 to $74, and B tokens include the lower mid-range of $21 to $50. Finally, we get to C tokens -- those in the less than $20 range. Note that these are the same ranges used previously. If you need adjectives, we can say, "awesome, better, and cheap" -- but remember, we are only referring to selling prices, not quality or importance of the pieces. That, we leave to the collector.
     As is usual, most of the CTs sold this week were C pieces: 84 of them. In the lower mid-range (B), there were 26 CTs sold, whereas 9 tokens were in BB land. There was one A CT and two AA CTs. These figures clearly show that most CTs sell for reasonable prices. This is encouraging for anyone who wants to get started, as nearly 70% of CTs sold for less than $20 -- I noticed many attractive and/or interesting pieces in this group (and purchased a few myself).
     A new seller -- benachie -- came online this week who listed 75 CTs from "a Scottish collection of 700 examples that lain dormant/untouched since the 1970s." Also, cobwrightfortishe offered 16 more CTs from the Macmillan collection.
     The top AA piece sold for $126. Six bidders vied for this one, casting 9 bids, doubling the price on the last day. It was a straight rectangle from Ireland in moderately worn, but unblemished, condition. The CT was from the York Street Church in Belfast (B7285). As noted last week, these pieces are hot -- one sold in the Simmons Auction for $88. Here is the link: Irish CT from Belfast.
The burning bush/AMO AMO
design was used on at least three
highland CTs: same reverse die?
     The second AA CT came from a grouping of 16 pieces offered by cobwrightfortishe on November 16th: a round piece from Fearn (BK417) with the burning bush/AMO AMO design on the reverse. This specimen presented with irregular edges (as made) and smooth surfaces steeped in a rich ashen patina -- no wear was noticable, and the burning bush was strong. It  attracted five bidders, casting 6 bids to push the hammer price to $116 -- all the usual suspects were in this one. Here is the link: CT from Fearn.
     This burning bush reverse design can be found on CTs from Auldearn, Avoch and Fearn -- three parishes in close proximity near the Moray Firth. The round pieces from these churches are all irregular with thin, hand-cut letters/numbers. They appear to be the work of a single engraver.
     The only A token was also included in the cobwrightfortishe auction: an upright straight rectangle, dated 1739, from Fogo in Berwick (BK430). Six bidders actively competed for this one with 12 bids entered to produce a very strong price of $96 (almost in AA range). It was described as a "rare" piece: When was the last time you saw one? Here is the link: CT from Fogo.
     These high points do not adequately characterize the quality and intrigue of the pieces offered this week. Many excellent dated CTs from the 1700s were to be had -- most of them bringing spirited bidding in the BB and B ranges. I think some of the best deals were to had in these categories. I must say that I missed out on a few of them -- but that is the challenge of collecting: namely, the thrill of the hunt and the longing (and misgivings) for the ones that got away.
     Some of these mid-range pieces included two seventeenth century bits with the initials of the minister only (BK424 from Fintray and BK437 from Forgue) -- these primitive squares date from the 1680s and 1650s respectively and represent turbulent times in the history of the Presbyterian Church. Also, two diminutive Fife rectangles from Flisk and Forgan (BK429 and BK434) sold for under $50 -- nice pieces! If you have been wanting a four-cornered dated CT from Fintry (from 1733), one was hammered down at just $55; this is a popular type-piece, as only a few were made like this within a narrow geographic region. These are all great pieces.

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