Friday, February 21, 2014

American CTs bring Big Money at Auction

Here is one that sold for $300.
This round CT is made from German
Silver and comes from Baxter, PA.
Yesterday, I watched two auctions with trepidation.
     The CTs were listed last week. I watched them all week, as bidding was low and slow. When the final day arrived, I began to worry. One of the pieces, a silvery round piece from Baxter, Pennsylvania (listed as BZ6027 or Bason-190) was stalled at $58 with only hours to go. Was anyone going to bid?
     Last year I purchased a similar piece for $300. I was anxious. Will I get stuck with it 10 years from now? Did folks realize (or care) that is was a rare CT? I started to question if I should jump into the bidding in attempt to inflate the price. Maybe I should buy it to offset the high price I paid for the one I have.
     Really ... I did think this, as if buying another one could make the first one cheaper -- weird economics: taking the average of the two.
     But I really did not want two of them. And I am more focused on my Scottish pieces. So I decided to pass: I turned off my phone and pressed it deep into my pocket. If it sells for $58, well congrats to the new buyer!
     Well I shouldn't have worried. The bidding took off shortly thereafter. Two bidders pushed the price to $200. Then another bidder jumped in. A second bidding war ensued with the new bidder winning the lot for $291. All told, 16 bids from four bidders knocked it down. Here is the link: USA CT from Baxter PA.
     I felt relieved that my piece -- and the price I paid -- was validated. At least for now. I was also impressed by the thin market -- only three serious bidders were in the room. Yet we know that there are several dozen regular CT collectors out there. American CTs, however, are an acquired taste that requires great patience, hundreds of dollars, and an appreciation for simple, often primitive, pieces.
     A second American CT was offered following the Baxter piece. This one was a round from St. Louis (listed as BZ6071 or Bason-65). It was made of lead (I believe) and was darker. It was the kind of token that a specialist would want. And so it was. Only two bidders entered the fray, casting small sums to start. The big bids came in the last two days. One bidder kept on bidding against an early high bid: four times the bids were opposed. The early bid prevailed, and the hammer came down at $357. Here is the link: USA CT from St. Louis.
     The same bidder won both pieces.
A "church token" for less than $2.
     So what is the real value of this second piece? Did we witness an irrational bidding war? Maybe. But the prices for both CTs are close. Both are rare. Both are Burzinski plate specimens. Both are offered infrequently. American CTs typically sell for $250 to $350 in my experience.
     And now the spoiler.
     On November 15th, a BZ6027 (or a look alike) sold for $1.34 on ebay with two bids. This one was listed from Sparta, Illinois (a misattribution). It was listed as a "church token" and was not described as a CT -- hence, it was not discovered. This piece is pictured for comparison: note the similar shape of the P loop, the widely spaced second period. Only $1.34? This has got to be the deal of the year!

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