Sunday, January 26, 2014

Market Watch

This market watch reviews ebay sales between January 19 and January 25. The marketplace was buzzing. Big dollars were spent, as six CTs crossed the block for over $75 with four of them passing the elusive $100 mark.
     All told, 74 CTs were added pocketed. Forty-two of them sold in the C range of less than $20 with another 22 hammered down for B money. This total only left 10 CTs that surpassed the $50 mark: four of these sold in the BB range with two more going beyond $75 into the A category. Consequently, four CTs brought top bids in the AA range. As we have seen many times before, three of the top pieces were from outside Scotland -- in this case, Ireland.
     It was a fierce round of bidding on Friday when the Irish CTs crossed the block. The same buyer got them all for roughly the same price: $162 each. Coincidence? Not really. As time ran out, two competitors faced off with last minute bids that tripled the cost. The underbidder offered $160 for the final grab, but his opponent bid the sky (or at least more than $160 ... we will never know how much). Three times: the top two bidders distanced themselves from the field of five to seven players in the last moments with the exact same outcome. Obviously, they are both devoted Irish CT (or token) collectors.
     The three pieces included: an oval from Raphoe County (Donegal), dated 1860, and cataloged as B5822; a round from Kilbride County (Antrim), dated 1848, and cataloged as B3658; an oval from Ballykelly County (Londonderry), undated, and cataloged as B1104. By comparison, a stock Irish CT with the same obverse as that found on the Raphoe piece above, but with a stock reverse (that is, it was not produced for any particular church), sold for a paltry $5.
     The Irish pieces were part of a larger series of auctions by Canadian dealer comtok who also sold 22 Scottish CTs from Aberdeen. These latter pieces included all the types you would expect from this shire and city: big rounds and bold squares (some with Glasgow-styled designs), plus the usual ovals and cut-rectangles that came later. There were some nice tokens in this group, and all of them sold for C and B money -- it would have been a nice way to get started on a regional set.
Brook's Illustration
     The fourth AA CT (other than the Irish pieces) was offered mid-week by cobwrightfortishe in an auction series featuring 20 early CTs. The usual suspects crowded the floor with paddles at the ready. The top CT was a single-sided, squarish piece from the village of Inveresk (Lothians) dated 1727. The dealer described this one as very rare. So already we are off to the races (eighteenth century+dated+rare = spirited bids). But the best part was the monogram or cipher that made up the design -- adding intrigue to the equation!
     Fifteen bids were entered by 8 bidders. Four of them held on to the sound of the trumpets to produce a hammer price of $114. A deal in my opinion, as it could have gone for more. Here is the link: Inveresk CT dated 1727.
     The monogram or cipher was initially described by Brook as MIRK to represent Minister, Inveresk Kirk. Some of the letters were thought to be reversed -- hence, the cipher part (i.e., a disguised way of writing). Kerr and Lockie opined in 1940-41 that the initials were MIWIK to represent the minister Mr. John Williamson (1702-1740), Inveresk Kirk. This makes more sense, as the R in Brook's formulation is not intuitive. No records are available to support these conjectures.
     What do you think?
     My own opinion is that the reflective symmetry is hard to miss; as such, any reversals (or substitutions) were done to enhance this effect. Frankly, I only see an M and two Ks (one reversed), or perhaps a small V between two Ks.
Here is the photo
from Burzinski.
     Overlapping (versus connecting) monograms are unusual. We often see two letters sharing a stem, but rarely do we see letters superimposed on each other. When the latter is found, it is usually a parish initial superimposed on a K for Kirk as in Buittle (BK), Gordon (GK), or Kirkbean (KB -- actually an abbreviation for the parish name). One example of superimposed letters enclosed in a monogram comes from Conveth (e.g., M over A for Mr. Archer with connecting lines across the top and bottom to provide a boxed effect). Also, very few CTs show reversed letters as seen here -- but Daviot & Dunlichity shows overlapping Ds with the right one reversed so that the loops cross each other. This seems to be similar to what we are seeing in the Inveresk piece.
     But to give K&L fair play, I suppose the first I (actually a J) can be found in the stem of the K (at left), with the W at the top where the upper arms of the Ks cross and intersect with the M; the second K is reversed with the I found in the stem (as before), also reversed. Such machinations do not satisfy Ockham's Razor; nonetheless, all this mystery makes for a very cool piece.
     Finally, moving on, it should be noted that several other nice pieces were hotly contested this week including a pair of irregular squares from Insch (Aberdeen) with one of them dated 1685 (BK530 & BK531).  These pieces brought strong BB money.  A nice series of narrow rectangles from Inveraven (Banff) also attracted bidders (BK534, BK534A & BK537) to produce hammer prices in the high B/low BB range. Others too, but this is all for now.
     Yes, the winter CT season is in full swing.

No comments:

Post a Comment