Sunday, February 16, 2014

Market Watch

This market watch reviews ebay sales for the week of February 9 through February 15. It was a busy week with 73 CTs sold -- looking back, this number is on par with the active trading seen in late November and most of December.
     Most CTs crossed the block at C prices: 53 in this category. Sixteen CTs sold for B money, whereas only four CTs sold for over $50 in the BB range. In this latter group, three CTs were sold in one lot for $174 (about $58 a piece). As you can see, prices were relatively low this week.
     A set of three Crown Court CTs from England, packaged by Lester Burzinski, attracted three bidders. Most of the seven bids were cast by two bidders who pushed the price from $101 to $174 on the last day of the auction. Each piece represents a different variety (one silver CT and two white metal CTs distinguished by thick or thin flans: B1692, B1693, B1694 respectively). Here is the link: Crown Court Church CTs.
     A similar set (offered by the same Canadian dealer) sold for $251 in the first week of December -- four bidders competed at that time, casting 17 bids. This set was offered a second time in early January by the same dealer and was sold for $202 -- perhaps the first sale fell through.
This CT from Forgue is both old
and brass. It has one of the earliest
arrangement of letters found on
CTs: M followed by Initials.
     A brass token from the 17th century also brought BB money this week (BK437). This single-sided piece was from Forgue (Aberdeen) with the inscription: M/AG for Minister (or Mr.) Alexander Garden who served between 1645-1674. This auction attracted 5 bidders, casting 9 bids, to raise the hammer price to $55.
     Brass CTs are unusual, as they do not come up for sale very often. They represent only a small segment of the Scottish collecting field. So it was a bit unusual that there were four other brass pieces sold this week. Three of them appeared to be part of a collection from Aberdeen: all from Fyvie (BK449, BK449 variety, BK450 -- this makes a complete set from this parish). So maybe it was not unusual to see them offered in succession. Bidding was quite democratic, as three different buyers took them home. A fourth one (another BK449) was offered a few days later by a second dealer, and it went to a fourth buyer. These four pieces all sold in the B range (in this case, between $20 and $40). It appears that everyone who wanted a brass piece, got one!
     Previously, a brass piece from Crimond (Aberdeen) sold for $100 in mid-December. I cannot tell you how rare it is, but certainly two bidders wanted it badly. There are seven brass/copper pieces in the Crimond series (all similar). Add to this, the series of three brass pieces from Fyvie as described above. Also, brass/copper pieces are known for the parishes of Forgue (noted above), Longside, NewByth, and New Deer (several of these sold last year). Consequently, we have seen all but two offered at auction in the past six months. Are there other brassy pieces from ABD?


  1. Great blog. I visit often and very much enjoy. As a CT collector from the days before eBay when Scottish tokens were expensive at anything in excess of £5 I'm interested in how vendors and purchasers are now assessing rarity in respect of Scottish material. How does anybody know which are the rare tokens? I'll say at this point that a token is worth whatever someone is prepared to pay so no criticism of either party is intended here. Except for someone with a specialist knowledge of a particular church only dealers like Cobwright who have had a long standing interest in CT's and have handled 1000's can form a view that may be given some credence but they are very few. I think Cobwright would agree that prior to eBay Scottish tokens were traded with no reference to rarity, nevertheless some will be genuinely rare. How can we identify these? We probably can't with certainty but one thing might provide a clue. The size of the congregation at the time of the token. For instance St. Kilda with a population of 30 to 40 people is probably a truly rare token. In fact all island parishes are worth a look but present population figures for highland parishes are not necessarily a good guide. There was a lot of depopulation in times past. A good reference is the Statistical Account of Scotland published in parish sections around 1794 and again around 1854 (modern reprints are available) Other things effect rarity of course but these can't be objectively assessed. Most tokens will have come from hoards but some of these hoards were destroyed by the church however the odd survivor may have not been returned by a parishioner and examples were exchanged between collector ministers in the early days. These will be out there. Finally any item produced in, at most, 100's will become scarce as collectors enter the market so collect them now but keep your fingers crossed that that expensive rarity is not listed again next week.

  2. I agree with your comments; we are in the dark about rarity either due to low production or low survival. I try to keep track of what is sold on ebay, but it takes too much energy to keep any kind of record up to date -- especially you have a day job! I laughed at your last comment: I am always keeping my fingers crossed when I spend big $ on a token. One day, after the pain has subsided, I will share several stories of paying $40 one week and watching another one go for $15 the next week. I like the idea of looking at congregation size -- it provides a starting point if you can get a number. Of course, demand is part of the equation, as this has a huge impact. Everyone likes dated pieces, hearts, and interesting monograms/pictures, so these sell high. Since you are from Scotland, I am interested in how you collect? By shire, by type, or some other strategy? Cobwright once told me that he once collected CTs from Fife. Is collecting by shire a popular strategy?
    Also, I am happy to hear that you enjoy the blog.

  3. Although I'm still interested in CT's I don't do much active collecting of them these days. Any non GB tokens that turn will still get my attention although usually in the end they slip beyond my budget. ( I think French tokens are usually good value though if you can find them). I started collecting due to finding a Dundee CT (Bz 2140) and thinking it was a trade token. The collector whose GB collection Cobwright bought (he collected world wide) set me on the right track and for a short time I gathered whichever CT's I could find but then settled on the county of Angus (previously called Forfarshire) plus overseas examples and the odd token that attracted me for whatever reason. I like the crude sheet iron Glassford tokens (Bz3057-3060) and the bronze Glenapp token ( Bz 2896) for example. I knew another collector who collected Fife and a local guy recently dispersed an Angus collection on eBay so I suspect collecting a county is popular in Scotland. Due to the amount of Scottish material available most collectors will probably specialise in some way. I believe Scottish islands also have a following.