|Collectors who came before us all left their mark.|
Here we have some 2x2s from previous collections.
Who else is buying CTs?
Who is bidding against you on ebay?
Are they devoted collectors?
Or, are they comets that flare up, as they rush in, buying a few tokens only to disappear soon after snatching up the CT you had been waiting for?
Sometimes after a bidding war on ebay, I wonder: Who got that one? I cannot see the other bidders. We are probably a multifarious lot. Yet, we share a passion: CTs.
Of course, we do not like being outbid, and so we might lose our composure for an instant and shout out at these phantoms.
Yet, if you met one of them in the coffee shop, a good conversation would follow.
This is how it is with collectors. We compete. The loss of a token at the last second, just when you thought you had it, is part of the collecting experience. And then, you catastrophize about it, lamenting that you will go without the needed token, maybe forever. Or so it seems.
But take solace: If you collect long enough, the tokens will come back to you. CTs are passed from one collector to another. The cycle never stops. Most of the CTs on ebay are coming from big collections. For example, in 2013, we witnessed the dispersal of large collection of Angus tokens -- someone probably spent the best years of their life assembling these. The Bob Merchant collection of Scottish pieces also sold last year. The Burzinski and Macmillan collections are still being dispersed.
So how many of us are out there? And how often do we come out to play?
In a survey of several hot auction venues, I examined who was in the game. It is good marketing research for all of us. After all, we might want to sell our CTs someday. And the question becomes, who will be buying them? When we all die, will a rising generation be the least bit interested?
I examined many recent auctions (100+) to see who is in the room. I limited this analysis to the Scottish series with an emphasis on the early (pre-1830) CTs. Here is some of what I found. First off, there are about 70 to 100 buyers who have won more than one CT. But there is a collecting core of only 15 to 20 active bidders who show up most of the time. Another 10 to 15 folks come into the room with some regularity, but they seem hesitant to join the core. Within the core, there are two to four super-buyers.
The core wins about two-thirds of the CTs offered. The super-buyers get about half of these, or put another way, they win about 20% of the pieces. As you can imagine, a grouping of rare pieces attracts most of the core players -- hence, they are not hard to find. Yet, despite this attraction, not all of the rare and high quality pieces are won by the core -- a few are snapped up by others hidden in the crowd. Let's look at this further.
It is not unusual for a new bidder (with a low buying history) to splurge on a nice CT. Maybe their goal is to get a few really nice ones. I happen to know a new collector of CTs (who has collected other tokens for a long time); he has an eye for quality -- so when he sees something he likes, he just goes for it. In his case, he only has a dozen or so CTs, but he has purchased a few of the best ones in 2013.
Alternatively, a seasoned bidder comes in once or twice a month and puts up the big dollars for the pieces that are needed for the collection. There is no messing with this kind of buyer unless you, too, have a collection with the same glaring hole in it! This sparks a bidding war, and the seasoned (plus very focused) collectors are prepared for it.
So there you have it. There are about one hundred active collectors on ebay with only 15 to 20 at the core, bidding every month. Finally, a few super-buyers are picking up one out of every five pieces. Keep in mind, this is only ebay, only Scottish, and only four months of data.
Where are you in all of this?