Sunday, December 1, 2013

Market Watch

This Market Watch reviews ebay auctions held between November 24 through November 30. Two auctions dominated the trading this week: cobwrightfortishe offered 15 CTs on Tuesday, whereas benachie offered 102 CTs on Saturday. In between these auctions, the block was relatively quiet with 22 CTs sold.
     All together, 139 CTs sold this week -- an active period. As usual, most of the tokens sold for less than $20, adding up to ninety-three pieces or about two-thirds of the total. Many good buys could be found among these C tokens.
     Twenty-two CTs sold in the B range of under $50, whereas eleven pieces brought BB money. Two CTs were bid past the $75 or A marker.
From Brook: Here are two of the pieces that sold last week.
Hand-crafted octagonal pieces are attractive, as they are
primitive and misshapen with an ancient charm.
     As we have come to expect, the cobwrightfortishe auction featured several rare and high quality pieces -- all of them bringing strong prices. There were two A pieces that sold for over $75, and several more that sold for very close to this mark in the high BB range -- in fact, six more pieces sold for prices above $60. All of these CTs were from the Macmillan collection.
     The top A piece was a irregular-cut octagonal piece dated 1766 from Fortingall in Perth (BK441B). It was dark gray and pin-pricked with corrosive heads, but still with a nice look for a relatively rare piece. Five bidders cast 7 bids, pushing the hammer price to $78. This piece was one of three octagonal CTs from Fortingall offered, as similar pieces dated 1746 (BK441) and 1785 (BK442) brought $76 and $67 respectively. Brook listed a fourth piece in the series that was dated 1756.
     By the way, the parish churchyard at Fortingall has one of the oldest trees in all of Europe: a yew tree that is at least 2000 years old and maybe twice that. A stone wall was built in 1785 to protect this landmark that is believed to have provided refuge for early Christian worshippers who settled there as early as 700AD.
Here is the Fortingall Yew.
(from SNAIK, Wikimedia)
     Early octagonal pieces are not rare as a group, but they are infrequently encountered -- Brook and Kerr & Lockie list less than 20 of them. Many of the early ones are irregularly shaped with unequal sides and are charming as such. The Fortingall series is one of the longest series of these hand-crafted designs: Kenmore in Perth boasts a series of three such pieces (plus a newer one at the time of the great disruption of 1843).
     Two unusual engraved CTs from Garvaldin in Lothians (BK463 & BK463 variety with extra star) sold in the BB range: $65 and $67 respectively. Bidding came from seven bidders overall, but both pieces went to a single buyer. Both CTs were in excellent condition with minimal wear and no distractions. Here a link to one of them: Engraved CT from Girthon.
     The extended auction of 102 CTs from benachie included many inexpensive pieces, but three of them were bid past the $50 mark with one piece in particular pushing towards the A marker with a hammer price of $72: a Perth rectangle dated 1745 (the so-called "Jacobite Rising" piece mentioned in a previous post). Five bidders competed with 17 bids (and many more automatic bids that resulted in 16 price changes in the last 15 minutes).
     In contrast, a lowly Dunbog square from Fife that was used in the 1650s only garnered $16 with few bids.
     Finally, a few BIN sales bested the BB mark: an attractive rectangle from Mertoun in Berwick (BK798) dated 1700 and a primitive triangle with an incuse letter on each side from Lamington & Wandel (BK702).


  1. Fortingall : Pontius Pilate is reputed to have been born under the Yew - see Google if you don't believe me ! His other connection with Scotland (though again nothing to do with CTs) is that the Royal Scots (senior infantry regiment in the British Army - First of Foot & Right of the line till their recent amalgamation into the Royal Regiment of Scotland) were said to be descended from Pontius Pilate's bodyguard.
    Now to a recently discovered CT of the mid 17thC which gives the lie to the notion that the early tokens were simple affairs. My computing skills are limited but try to get to p15 of : .................................
    well worth a visit and suggests 'Glasgow squares' had their origins in the Kingdom of Fife !

  2. Thanks for writing sunnyleith. Fortingall is steeped in Christian history. The parish church located there is apparently full of artifacts from earlier religious structures. That Pontius Pilate was born there seems fitting. CTs provide a portal to all this interesting history.
    I checked out the site you provided and found the CT from Anstruther Easter Parish with the minister Colin Adams spelled out in a circular fashion. The site stated that he was the first minister of this Kirk from 1641. This piece, although rotated 45 degrees to produce a diamond look, is similar to the Dunbog CTs (BK328 with several shape varieties) that date between 1646 and 1654. I have a blog post prepared on the Dunbog pieces that compares them to the Glasgow Squares but also suggests that these pieces were copied from the farthing token designs used in the mid-1600s. The CT you identified from Anstruther Easter also looks like the merchant tokens of the era -- particularly, with the anchor in the middle. I think we are on to something here! How did you ever find that link? I agree wholeheartedly, it appears that Fife wins the earliest Glasgow Style award -- however, maybe we need to change the name of these pieces! It is fascinating to try to trace the origins of a design idea or schema that is reflected in a few surviving tokens over 350 years old! I will post on the Dunbog CT next week and will add your link -- I also have a farthing token to illustrate the connection (I purchased it for that reason when the Simmons auction was held last October).