Sunday, December 22, 2013

Market Watch

This Market Watch reviews ebay auctions for the week of December 15 thru December 21. It was another busy week with most of the action coming at the end with a big auction on Saturday. As before, benachie offered up another installment of the Scottish collection that he has been marketing -- this time putting 117 CTs on the block. Consequently, the number of listings exceeded 450 at the start of the day.
Here is a quaint Culross CT.
It presents itself as a diamond.
     All told, there were 146 CTs sold this week. With all this bidding action, it is not surprising that we have four AA CTs to ponder this time around. Of course, many great CTs sold for less money. Hopefully, you purchased a few nice ones for gifts (as I did). Most pieces (103 of them) crossing the block sold for under $20, whereas, 34 more sold for B plus 2 that earned BB money. In the upper price ranges, we had several stars that stimulated the desires of serious (or mad) collectors. There were 3 A CTs and 4 AA CTs.
     In particular, the top four pieces ($100+) boasted qualities that communion token specialists love: superlative condition (and rarity?); interesting shapes -- a heart, of course, and a primitive square that was oriented to present itself as a diamond; and finally, an unusual -- somewhat homely -- stamped piece of brass. So, which one was top dog this week?
     The top dog designation is clearly a misnomer here. The highest dollar CT sold brought $167 -- it was no dog! All the money went for a round token from Aberlady in East Lothian with a late date of 1864. Twelve bids were entered by six bidders, and as expected, it came down to two paddles waving at the last. This sharply struck piece was adorned with a 6-point star (two over-lapping triangles) with a cross in the middle (B141); it was bathed in a light ashen patina over flawless, semi-glossy surfaces. I would not have predicted such voracious bidding on this one for its condition alone -- is it rare? Here is the link: Aberlady Round CT.
     Next up, the heart never fails to bring out the bids. It was a piece from Clackmannan dated 1731 (B1460) that attracted five bidders (casting 6 bids). It really came down to the wire with the price soaring by $70 in the last seconds to hammer down at $112. Someone really wanted it. This is big money for a somewhat corroded piece -- but this issue usually comes rough (and it does not come around very often). It is a distinctive token, thick with bold CK and date. Here is the link: Clackmannan Heart CT.
     Clackmannan has more than its share of hearts. For a shire that only produced nine CTs in the eighteenth century from four parishes, it is remarkable that four pieces are hearts -- B1460 is the one that is seen most often of that group. However, in a chest full of hearts, it is more scarce than the one we are accustomed to seeing from Dunfirmline in Fife (B1823 & B1824).
     Sharing the mantle of AA pieces sold this week was a diamond-shaped (or rotated) CT that brought $103. It was a small squarish (read: rectangular) CT from Culross (BK251) that was attracting the attention of folks mid-week. Three determined bidders vied for this one, casting no less than 8 bids. It was offered in a small group of eleven primitive and/or worn pieces offered by cobwrightfortishe. Whereas most of them went for C and B money, the diamond (in the rough) was quickly targeted.
     The Culross CT is twice cataloged by Burzinski (B1126 & B1176), as it comes in several sizes: a square of 16mm, a rectangle of 18x14mm, and some sizes in-between (for example, I have pictured one that measures 17x15mm). The star is also located in different locations. It is a simple design: a C with a bold 5-point star. Does anyone know the specific meaning of the star?
     The last AA piece was not much more than a crudely stamped bit of brass. Listed as coming from Crimond in Aberdeen (B1615), it is a rare piece. I was thinking of stepping into the fray, but the bidding was already hotly competitive with four bidders pushing the cost of admission to over $90 at the start of the day. The price did not move much beyond this mark as the auction neared. In the end, the token sold for $99.75 (just enough to round up to the AA range).
Primitive, unusual & rare:
These are qualities that we relish!
     I checked to see if the tiny village of Crimond had a copper mine, but none was listed. So why use brass? This was probably what the craftsman had on-hand. In any case, this piece will make for interesting discussion in any collection.
     A few other CTs deserve mention. A cut rectangle from Cumnock in Ayr (B1738) brought an incredible $95 at the hammer with eight bids coming from four collectors. It got hot on the last day of the auction, as two bidders squared off. This is perhaps the most money I have seen paid for a cut rectangle of the standard design (oval motif with adornments at each corner). It is the only nineteenth century CT from this parish, representing the Free Church that was built in October of 1843. It must be rare enough for more than a few collectors to need one to complete their sets! This is a good example of what can be learned in the auction arena -- namely, which tokens bring out the serious collectors! Here is the link: Cumnock Cut Rectangle.
     Also, an irregular rectangle from Coyltoun, dated 1728, crossed the block at $88. Another popular piece -- the 1760 Dalmellington round with chalice and loaf (one of my favorites) -- sold for $85. These were both very nice tokens that are always popular.
     Looking back, we can see that all the featured CTs were from Scotland this week. We had a few Irish pieces (stock tokens) show up -- one of them was not listed as Irish and sold cheaply. Incidently, a group of pieces from Scotland were labeled as Irish by mistake -- but the prices were reasonable.

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