A Massively Successful Auction

An account of yesterday’s splendidly successful auction.

INTRODUCTION

On Wednesday James and Sons had a small but very important auction featuring gold coins and proof sets. We were anticipating a very considerable success, because we knew that there were bids of sufficient size on every lot that everything would sell, and we also knew that some of the items had a very large number of watchers online (one had no fewer than 17). The rest of this post tells the story of a truly amazing auction.

TUESDAY – FINAL PREPARATIONS

In view of the high value of the gold the only items that were set out on display were as many of the proof sets as I could lay out on one large table. I also made sure that the IT was all fully functional, as the last thing we wanted was for a glitch to affect this auction. I was able to enjoy the NAS West Norfolk Steak Night at The Globe later that evening in the knowledge that all had gone as smoothly as it could have (I restricted myself to a modest two pints of Ringwood Fortyniner in view of the importance of the following day). 

WEDNESDAY – A DAY OF TRIUMPHS

I awoke a few minutes before my alarm was due to go off (not uncommon with me – the alarm is more insurance policy than necessity) and left my flat precisely as intended at 6:45, ensuring that there was no chance of missing the bus. Arriving at the shop, I unlocked, deactivated the alarm, then relocked the door as in view of what was in the shop I did not want customers coming in while I was there on my own. I then began to set up for the day. The auctioneer arrived not very long after me, and I was able to complete the setup, verify that everything was working and take some photographs. Before nine o’clock customers started arriving, and by 9:30 it was standing room only in the shop, as no fewer than 16 potential room bidders were present, in addition to over 60 online bidders and not a few who had put commission bids in in advance of the sale.

P1190889
The proof set display, with lot 135 front centre
P1190886
One of the two significant coins from lot 139…
P1190887
…and the other
P1190888
The setup before anyone else had arrived.
P1190892
Potential room bidders (three pics)

P1190893P1190894

P1190891
Lot 139 on the big screen.

THE AUCTION STARTS

The first five lots were 1974 Krugerrands which were expected to make approximately £800 each and did exactly that. Then came lot 6, the James II Guinea which was one of two items that had been the subject of a query the previous day as a result of which it had extra images above the regular image gallery for such an item. Estimated at £500-750 the interest it had attracted saw the final hammer price reach exactly £1,000.

6
The first three images constitute my regular image gallery for a single coin.

6-a6-b

6-c
One of the questions asked about this coin related to the edge, and to help back up my own comments on the edge of this coin I took two photographs that between showed it in its entirety.

6-d

Lot 7 was a William III Half Guinea, which in relative terms fared even better since with an estimate of £300-500 it actually went for £900!

77-b7-a7-c7-d

Lots 8 to 24 inclusive were half sovereigns, and all sold well, most going for around the £100 mark. Lots 25 to 90 incluisve were…

SOVEREIGNS FROM VICTORIA THROUGH ELIZABETH II

These we knew would sell respectably, because a major and long standing client whose job is to sell gold items had put in commission bids of £180 a time on the whole lot, confirming our auctioneers valuation was on the mark. Most of the sovereigns actually sold for more than that, £190 being a common figure and a few of them going to and in some cases beyond £200. Then came…

LOTS 91-5 – THE HUGE SUCCESSES

The first four of these lots were high value gold proof sets which we were expecting to be on or around the four figure mark. Actually, and barely believable they went for £1,600, £2,000, £2,000 and £1,600 respectively!!

9191-a91-c91-d91-e9292-a92-c92-d92-e9393-a93-b9494-a94-b

Lot 95 was a sovereign in a gold mount with a gold chain and 8 1mm diamonds (in otherwords a very fancy necklace). Estimate at £300-400 it eventually sold for £550.

9595-a

After these it was time for…

THE REGULAR PROOF SETS

Of course after what gone before the proof sets were a little bit “after the Lord Mayor’s show”, but there were still a handful of highlights to come.

LOTS 113 AND 114

These were respectively a Scottish and Welsh proof set (hence the split colouring of the heading) each expected to make £8-12. The Scottish set went for £20 and the Welsh for £18

113113-a113-b114-a114

These were a mere curtain raiser for…

LOT 121

A 1992 proof set featuring an EEC 50p coin the rarity of which turned a £10-15 estimate into a £50 hammer price!

121

The next big success was…

LOT 128

This 1999 proof set featuring a Diana Princess of Wales £5, a bimetallic rugby £2 and Scottish coins from £1 down to 1p had an estimate of £15-20 and ended up going for £32.

128

Then came two successive monster successes with…

LOTS 135 and 136

Lot 135, a 2009 proof set, featuring as it did the highly prized Kew Gardens 50p, the Henry VIII £5, and the Darwin and Burns £2 coins was estimated at £100-120 but ended up going for £220!

135135-a135-b135-c

135-d
A close up of this one was mandatory.
135-e
I also deemed the Darwin £2 worthy of a close-up

135-f

Lot 136 was a 2010 proof set featuring a Restoration of the Monarchy £5 (350th anniversary thereof), A Florence Nightingale £2, a London £1 and a Girl Guiding 50p. Estimated at £20-25 it sold for £100!!

136

Not long later came…

LOT 139 – A BITTERSWEET IMAGER’S TRIUMPH

This London Underground 150th anniversary proof set had been badly misdescribed, with one of the £2 coins mentioned as featuring trains, and the roundel coin not even mentioned, but the imager’s efforts more than compensated for this. Estimated at £25-30 it attracted sufficient interest to push the final price up to £52 (and inter alia out of the imager’s reach, hence the heading of this section).

139
Lot 139 in all it’s glory.
139-c
The ’roundel’ coin which is fairly rare.
139-b
The other London Underground 150th anniversary coin, which is much less rare.

139-a

That was the last of the yearly proof sets, but there were still a few lots to go, and two of them provided noteworthy results.

LOT 148 – A SENEGALESE STUNNER

This 1975 Senegal Triple Crown, solid sterling silver, Euroafrique 150 franc coin, boxed and with a certificate was estimated at £15-20, but a lively bidding battle pushed the final price up to £48.

148148-a148-b148-c

Finally, came…

A STRONG FINISH

Lot 151, the final lot in this small sale,  was an accumulation box containing a few good bits and some ordinary stuff.  Estimated at £40-50 it ended up going for £95.

151

Once the auction setup had been dismantled and the last room bidders had gone it was time for me to attend to other matters. You can view a catalogue for the general collector’s auction we have next Wednesday here.

THURSDAY – PUTTING TOGETHER A PRESS RELEASE ABOUT THIS AUCTION

Yesterday morning I produced a PR piece about the success of this sale, going big on the images as well. I conclude this piece with a link and a screenshot:

GOLD COIN AUCTION GIVES FAKENHAM AUCTIONEER BEST RESULT IN YEARSPRimage

 

 

 

 

 

Press Releases and Triangular Bridges

Some stuff about upcoming auctions and press coverage thereof and the solution to my most recent mathematical teaser.

INTRODUCTION

This post deals with some of my work at James and Sons and also includes a solution to a problem I posed last week.

PRESS RELEASES

In my recent post about James and Sons’ upcoming gold coin and proof set auction I included a copy of the official press release I had put out about it. What I did not mention in that post is that we also have a less significant ajuction coming up this Monday, for which I had also out out a press release. Both are reproduced below to set the scene for what follows:

PRII
The press release.

Hoste PR

On Thursday morning I checked into the James and Sons twitter account and was delighted to spot a link to an article in the Fakenham and Wells Times (part of the Archant stable and therefore connected to the Eastern Daily Press) about the coin auction. Below is a scan of the print version of this article:

Fakenham Times Print Version

Then yesterday morning brought more positive news – a link to an article in that day’s Lynn News about Monday’s general collector’s auction. The focus of this article is some documents we have relating to William Hoste, after whom The Hoste in Burnham Market is named, and who was a protege of Lord Nelson and connected by marriage to Robert Walpole. Here is a scan of the print version of this article:

Lynn News Hoste

We have another auction in preparation, and I have already pretty much decided that this 19th century presentation conductors baton (it is too large to have been intended to be used) will be the feature image in the press release for that one:

11

11-a
For me the local connection revealed here clinches it.

11-b11-c11-d

THE TRIANGULAR BRIDGES

Here is the problem I set last week, followed by the answer and an official solution:

bridging the lake

tribridges solution

Here is a concise solution, courtesy of Chew-Seong Cheong :

bridgesol

 

A Small Auction That Could Make Big Money

An overview of James and Sons’ upcoming Gold coin and proof set auction.

INTRODUCTION

James and Sons have just finished two militaria auctions, which both went fairly well, next Monday we have a general collector’s auction which contains some interesting lots, but the auction that will shape our August is coming up on the 22nd.

GOLD COINS AND PROOF SETS

We have been consigned a lifetime collection of gold coins and proof sets, and these are forming a very small (147 lots) but potentially immensely valuable auction. As well as some seriously big money items (five 1974 Krugerrands, a James II (or VII north of Hadrian’s wall) gold Guinea and a William III gold Guinea) we have a number of half-Sovereigns and Sovereigns (60 of these latter from the reigns of Victoria through to Elizabeth II, and simply because it is pure gold even a Sovereign that has no features to appeal to a collector will fetch somewhere in the vicinity of £180-200 depending on the exact price of gold on the day). A full catalogue listing can be accessed via the James and Sons website – it is the second auction to which there is a link – look for the image of the James II (VII) coin. 

FROM THE IMAGE GALLERY

This section features the official press release, some of the more significant lots and a couple of proof sets that I have at least half an eye on.

PRII
The press release.
1
Lot 1 (three images)

1-a1-b

5
Lot 5 (three images)

5-b5-a

6
Lot 6 (three images)

6-a6-b

7
Lot 7 (three images)

7-a7-b

96
Lot 96 (five images)

96-a96-b96-c96-d

91
Lot 91 (six images)

91-a91-b91-c91-d

91-e
Lot 92 (six images)

9292-a92-b92-c92-d92-e

135
Lot 135 (seven images)

135-a135-b135-c

135-d
The most important coin in this set – even circulated versions of this coin fetch decent amounts.
135-e
The Darwin £2 (there is also a Burns £2 and a £5 commemorating 500 years since the accession of Henry VIII)

135-f

130
Lot 130 (two images), one of the two that are in my sights…
130-a
…in its case because of the Trevithick £2)
139
Lot 139 – four images, the second lot that is in my sights)
139-a
These two coins celebrating the 150th anniversary of the opening London (and the world’s) first underground railway.

139-b139-c

Press Release Success

A brief account of the genesis and development of a Lynn News article advertising James and Sons’ upcoming auctions.

INTRODUCTION

This post tells the story of the development of an article that appeared in today’s Lynn News about James and Sons upcoming Militaria auctions.

EMAIL AND PRESS RELEASE

I created a document for emailing out to potential militaria buyers, using lot 11 as the main image (at that time I envisaged that lot being on the front cover), but also including an image of lot 50, which I realised was an interesting item. On the advice of my employer I used the exact same document as a press release, though for this purpose I attached the original word document, a jpg thereof and full image galleries of both featured lots. Thus those receiving the press release saw all of the following:

AUCTION REMINDER MILITARIAMilitaria Email1111-i11-h11-g11-f11-e11-d11-c11-b11-a5050-a50-b50-c50-d

Not long after I had sent this press release came a response from Julie Graham of the Lynn News, whose eye had been taken by the Agincourt bas-relief. She requested some additional information which I supplied and indicated that an article in the business section of the issue for Friday July 20 would be forthcoming. For obvious reasons the Agincourt piece also became the front cover item on the printed catalogue. The article duly appeared as promised this morning:

Agincourt Article

You can find out more about James and Sons from the company website, and online catalogues for our upcoming auctions can be accessed from there, or on the following links below:

A Successful Day At Fakenham Racecourse

An account of yesterday’s auction at Fakenham Racecourse.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday James and Sons had an auction at Fakenham Racecourse, the first in 2018 to take place anywhere other than our shop in Fakenham, and the first at that venue with me in sole control of the IT side of things (the latter being a cause of some trepidation). The auctioneer and I had visited the racecourse the Friday before to establish that our IT setup (including the card terminal as part of the IT setup) would work there, and the auction lots and IT stuff were moved down to the racecourse on Tuesday. 

GETTING THERE

I caught the 7:00 bus to Fakenham (the earliest, and my regular one on workdays anyway these days) and on what was already a warm sunny morning enjoyed the walk from Oak Street to the Racecourse (which is located not as its name suggests in Fakenham but just outside the adjoining village of Hempton), arriving at the venue at just before ten past eight. The auctioneer arrived a few minutes later and I was able to accomplish the IT setup before any viewers arrived. We had Croc’s providing catering at the event, and I took the opportunity in a quiet period to fortify myself with a bacon bap. 

Mute Swans
Crossing the Wensum en route to the racecourse I spotted this pair of mute swans enjoying the sun.

Mute Swans II

Mute swans approaching the bridge
This bridge across the Wensum gives Bridge Street, Fakenham its name.

A BRIGHT START

For various reasons (to do with a combination of over-ambitious planning and an important member of staff being absent for a long period of time) this auction had some odd numbering of lots (it started at lot 741, and then there was a 50 lot gap between the end of the first section and the start of the coins at lot 901, then a massive gap after the last coin lot, no 1072 to the start of the Militaria at 1,466, then another major gap from the end of the militaria at lot 1,620 to the start of final segment at lot 1,920, with the last lot of the sale being lot 2,000), but although there was a range of almost 1,300 between the first and last lot number there were only 503 lots in the sale. We originally planned to take a short break at the end of the coin section before starting on the Militaria, but this as you will see changed part way through. 

The first big success of the auction came at lot 747, three gold rings, which had been valued at £70-100 but ended up selling for £150…

747747-a

Then lots 757 and 760, a ladies cigarette case and a ladies powder compact of similar styles, both esitmated at £30-40 went for £65 and £60 respectively, both to the same online bidder.

757
Lot 757 (three images)

757-a757-b

760
Lot 760 (two images

760-a

These however were a mere curtain-raiser for…

LOT 764 – A PHOTOGRAPHER’S TRIUMPH

There were indications that this elegant Mantle Clock, with a case carefully designed to show off its workings was going to do extraordinarily well, but we were all absolutely gobsmacked by what actually happened. The item had gone in with a modest valuation of £10-20, but I having noted the effort to which the makers of this clock had gone to put the workings on display created an image gallery for it which reflected this:

764
The main image, showing the whole clock.
764-a
This metal plaque was obviously of some significance, hence a close-up photograph of that.
764-b
And since the makers had been so determined to make the workings visible I devoted no fewer than four photographs to ensuring that thsi was reflected in my online image gallery.

764-c764-d764-e

The opening bid was £310! Then, a bidding war between four internet bidders who all obviously saw something that eluded those who are not experts on clocks pushed this already barely credible looking price up to an eye-popping £750!!

Incidentally, just for the record, the valuer himself said that it was the photographs that did it for us, hence my title for this subsection. Here are some photographs of this item that I took during the break:

Clock IClock IIClock IIIClock IV

UP TO THE BREAK

After the events described above almost anything else was going to feel a little anticlimactic, but a few items fared well nevertheless. Lot 919, a forged 1791 farthing estimated at £5-10 ended up going for £35.

919919-a919-b

The other effect that the early excitement had was that we were progressing slower than normal, and in the end the auctioneer brought our midauction break forward to lot 1,000. 

AFTER THE BREAK

We finished the coins, ending with lot 1072, which went to me for £4 (it is a small medallion, which I considered to be railwayana by association since it refers to Isambard Kingdom Brunel):

10721072-a1072-b

The Militaria section went pretty well, with most items selling, and two doing very well indeed:

1552
With this lot of badges being sold as one I could not spare the time to provide close-ups of all the badges…
1552-a
…so I nselected a couple of what I considered to be good ones…
1552-b
…the lots had been valued at £100-200, but interest possibly stoked by my choice of close-ups, pushed the final price up to £300.

The other big success in this range was lot 1584, valued at £80-100 and going for £140. 

1584
Please note that the fact that we as auctioneers sometimes handle Nazi memorabilia does not mean that any of us entertain anhy sympathy for Nazi ideology.

1584-a

The books fared poorly, although The Royal Liverpool Golf Club by Guy Farrar which I had given a deliberately cautious estimate of £15-20 fetched £55. 

19311931-a1931-b1931-c1931-d

The auction over, all that was left was the clear up, which was done by 3PM. I had one worrying moment when it seemed that a problem was developing with the internet connection, but fortunately it never got serious.

On Saturday the action shifts to The Maids Head Hotel, Norwich and the focus to cigarette cards. A full caftalogue listing for that auction can be viewed here.

Two Upcoming Auctions

Previews of James and Sons’ June Auctions.

INTRODUCTION

My empoloyers, James and Sons, have two auctions coming up in the next week. On Wednesday we are at Fakenham Racecourse for a general sale featuring a wide range of items, and on Saturday we are at The Maids Head Hotel, Norwich for an auction of old, rare cigarette cards. In tbe rest of this post I will give you a preview of both auctions.

CIGARETTE CARDS

The cigarette cards are the first part of a huge collection submitted to us by former Lord Mayor of London Sir Brian Jenkins (he has already expressed his appreciation of this catalogue). Here, as a link to the official catalogue listing on the-saleroom.com is a picture of the front cover of our printed catalogue:

2157 FC

It was my employer who selected the 1896 cricketers set to feature on the front cover, and me who chose the particular cricketers to feature (and, of course, took the photograph). Although W G Grace turned 48 during the course of the 1896 season he still also scored over 2,000 first class runs in it (in 1895 he had set two new records, completing his 100th first class hundred, the first to so, and also scoring 1,000 first class runs in the month of May (starting his season on the 9th and reaching his 1,000 21 days later) including 301 against Sussex. K S Ranjitsinhji deprived the old master of a record he had held since 1871 by racking up 2,780 first class runs in the season beating WGs old tally of 2,739. He also made an extraordinary test debut. On day 2 after Australia had racked up a big score he contributed 62 to England’s first innings, and then in the follow-on he reached 41 not out by the close. Then, having totalled over 100 runs on his first day as a test match batsman he added another 100 before lunch on his second, taking his overnight 41 to 154 not out. In spite of these heroics Australia needed only 125 to win, although a lion-hearted spell of fast bowling from Tom Richardson (6-76) ensured that they had to work for them, the eventual margin being three wickets. 

Here a few photographic highlights:

2001
This is the first lot of the auction
2010
Lot 2010 features in our printed catalogue…
2010-d
This being the picture used.

2010-e2010-f

2010-a
I also gave The Bard the close-up treatment.

2010-b2010-c

2027
Another cricket set…
2027-a
…from which I singled out Herbert Sutcliffe, an embodiment of the phrase “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” – first-class average 52.02, test average 60.73, ashes average 66.85.

2027-b2027-c

2029
Not difficult to select Meteora from this set!

2029-a2029-b2029-c

2050
A Railway set given exhaustive treatment.

2050-a2050-b2050-c2050-d2050-e

2237
Having earlier honoured Herbert Sutcliffe with a close up…
2237-a
…I now did likewise for his most famous opening partner, Jack Hobbs

2237-b2237-c

2267
Lot 2267, a set I already have.

2267-a2267-b2267-c

2279
The close-up I chose from this set features in our printed catalogue.
2279-a
This card is the first time I have even seen mention of a middle name for Hedley Verity (1956 wickets at 14.91 in a decade of doped pitches and Don Bradman’s batting).

2279-b2279-c

2291
Lot 2291

2291-a2291-b

2291-c
The Rocket, officially the world’s first steam locomotive.

2291-d2291-e

2500
Lot 2501
2545
The last lot of the sale, number 2545.

LOTS 2412 AND 2413

These are the two really old sets of cricketers, one of which is valued very highly, the other somewhat less so.

2412
This is the lot from which the front cover image came…

2412-a

2412-b
…and this is the front cover image

2412-c

2413
For this lot I added a couple to the close-up images
2413-a
As well and as Grace and Ranji I featured C B Fry and Gilbert Jessop (the fastest scorer in first-class cricket history – 79 runs an hour, in spite of the fact that for virtually his entire career a ball had to be hit right out of the ground as opposed to merely over the ropes to count six) – I reckon that if you could send a time machine to fetch him he would fetch decent money at an IPL auction!

2413-b2413-c

THE GENERAL AUCTION

I finish this auction by linking to the catalogue listing for Wednesday’s auction:

2156 FC

Most of the books in this auction were described and valued by yours truly, which may give them a chance of selling (but I am not holding my breath.

Travelling by Lynx Bus 1 Week In

Thoughts onthe new bus service between King’s Lynn and Fakenham one week in.

INTRODUCTION

I have now done one work week using the new Lynx Bus 49 for the journeys, the withdrawal of Stagecoach from King’s Lynn now being an accomplished fact (apart from the 505 to Spalding, most of which route is in Lincolnshire). This post covers my week at work as well as detailing my thoughts about the new services.

TUESDAY

Setting off from my flat at 6:45AM I was at the bus station in good time for the bus that I needed to catch at 7:00. The bus arrived and departed in good time, and arrived in Fakenham at 7:49, as indicated by the timetable (unlike the unlamented Stagecoach their schedules include some slack, so that a traffic jam does not always mean running behind schedule). As it was warm enough that my workplace would definitely be bearable, and I had a lot of imaging to do and little time in which to do it I decided to go straight there and get stuck in early. I commenced proceedings by finishing off the badges on boards as images of these were needed for the catalogue, and then got to work on the cigarette cards, and managed to image the first 50 lots of those as well, before closing time, and my departure for the library, to do stuff there until I could catch the bus home (the service is very infrequent at present). I have already shown some images from this day’s work in a previous postThe bus back duly arrived and set off exactly as it should (a double decker for the evening run btw), and there were no significant delays en route. 

THURSDAY

Again no issue with the journey out. Tony’s Deli stall was still being set up when I headed to work, so I got ready to start the day, and then popped back out to make my purchases there, before returning to get stuck into work. I did the loose badges (imaging them in batches of six to save time) for the first of the two days of badge sales, before once again focussing my attention of the cigarette cards, the last lot of the day being lot 166. Another visit to Fakenham library to fill in time at the end of the day, and once again home on a  bus that ran to time.

93393293793858

88
Lot 88, uncut cigarette cards – very unusual (until we got this consignment our expert on such cards, with nearly half a century of experience had not seen any.

88-a88-b

100
Lot 100, famous cathedrals
100-a
Close-ups of the two local examples (even if you cavil at Ely being described as local to a Norfolk auctioneer, the octagonal tower was designed a mid-14th century prior named Alan of Norwich).

100-b111119121

133
Lot 133, famous castles
133-a
A close up shot of two among the castles that I have visited.
134
Lot 134 – famous cathedrals

134-a166

FRIDAY

After another uneventful journey in I imaged some militaria for the first day of that sale, reverted to cigarette cards until I had imaged the last album to have been numbered up (ending at lot 294), at which point I started imaging badges on boards for the second day of that sale. 

831-a831

837
These backpacks (three items, there are two images of this one and one of each of the other two) are quite heavy even when empty, but that metal framework probably gives them gfreat stability.

837-a838839191216226228235

235-a
A close up of the local building.

250272

273-a
Both local and arguably the most iconic of all the buildings in this set.

273274-a

279
Lot 279 – the cigarette card equivalent of a 50-piece jigsaw.

2941700-171718-321733-431744-561757-68

It was warm and sunny when I locked up at work, and also of course a Friday, so I headed for The Limes and some liquid refreshment taken in the outside seating area. I had entertained hopes of finding a locally brewed craft ale, but given the actual options settled for Hobgoblin (still a very decent drink). The bus back was significantly late, but the still left Lynx with a score of 5 out of 6 for punctuality on the week – something that Stagecoach had not approached in a very long time.

THE LYNX BUS 49

The buses themselves are clean and comfortable, the drivers are friendly, such services as there are by and large run punctually. The trouble is that there are so few services on the new route. I might, particularly in winter, see if I can use my tickets on the route via Wells, which ultimately gets to King’s Lynn by way of Hunstanton. The prime disadvantage of this route is its length (doing the journey by that route would take about two hours on the bus. However, Lynx have stepped up to the plate in difficult circumstances, and their service standards are much better than Stagecoach. The cost of tickets is greater than on Stagecoach as well. I believe there remains a possibility of the 48 route, which currently terminates at Pott Row being extended to join the A148 and then on to Fakenham.