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MB 52 – An Update and Reminder

August 4, 2021


We are 7 days from the close of Mail Bid Sale No. 52.   Time to hunker down and look at the lots that pique your interest.  The witching hour is 6 PM CDT Wednesday August 11.  If you’ve not already marked your calendar, now is the time to set a reminder.


In mid-July, when the auction went live, consignors were greeted with a remarkable number of early bids.  Another wave of bids arrived a week or so later, when the catalog hit the mailboxes of established bidders.  At this writing only 9 lots in Part 1 of the Sale, Tim Osborne’s 60-piece consignment, lack an opening bid.  It is my experience that over half the bids in an auction that allows Internet bidding are entered in the last 24 hours, many in the closing minutes.  Late bidding in this Sale is certain to occur when collectors attending the ANA’s World’s Fair of Money hand in bid sheets after previewing lots at my bourse tables this coming Tuesday and Wednesday.  Snipers will lie in wait, as always.


The past couple of weeks brought several emails and phone calls that concern the auction.  One question recurs.  “If the current bid is $500 and I bid $1,000 will other bidders know my top bid?”  The answer is an emphatic “No.”  Other bidders will see that the current high bid has moved to $550, requiring a minimum bid of $600 to continue the battle.  If a new bidder bids the minimum, the computer will bid $650 on your behalf and advise the new bidder that he or she has been outbid.  The new bidder, of course, may skip over the $600 minimum and bid $1,001.  Ouch!  You will go into 2nd place and face a new minimum bid of $1,101 if you wish to carry on.  Many bidders tack on an extra 1, 5 or 10 dollars, hoping to avoid this bit of frustration.


Other questions concern sources to be consulted when valuing a lot.  That’s a tough one.  PCGS offers a retail price guide,  Steve Herrman’s AMBPR is in most of your libraries.  Dave Rutherford’s important resource, Bust Half Auction and Sales Results, is here:  Some collectors subscribe to the Greysheet for wholesale pricing suggestions.  Heritage, Stack’s/Bowers and Legend allow us to access their auction archives.

Whew!  Sorting out available data can be a chore.  And confusing.  Price disparities are sometimes explained by a dirty little secret of the coin business.  Pretend you are a coin dealer who just bought a 50-piece collection of PCGS graded bust halves.  You look through them, falling in love with a dozen nicely toned coins while shaking your head in wonder at another dozen that lack eye-appeal or look over-graded.  What to do?  No rocket science here.  Set aside the best coins for your best customers and extol their virtues as you add them to your Price List.  You hope to see these coins again.  The ones you don’t want to see again?  Consign them to auction, hoping someone will buy the plastic, not the coin. 

Major auction houses survive on dealer consignments but crave collector consignments, especially collections put together over a few decades by a discerning collector.   The names George Hamilton, Brent Pogue, Dale Friend, Keith Davignon, Roger Solomon and others come to mind.  Compare the prices their coins brought with similarly graded, unpedigreed coins.

I am pleased to report that every coin in MB 52 is consigned by a collector.  There are no dealer castoffs.  If an “AU 55” in the Sale is bid at 3 times its usual range consider it a well-earned thank you to the consignor.  He is offering us the fruits of his patience and knowledge, exercised over many years.


Did I neglect you?  Take heart.  You may download the catalog here.  The catalog cover and Terms of Sale are here.

Sheridan Downey, Numismatist
4400 Keller Ave., Suite 140, PMB 398
Oakland, California 94605
(510) 479-1585

©2021 Sheridan Downey