April 20, 2012

Spring sale from Archives International

Just today, I received the newest Spring Auction 2012 catalog from Archives International Auctions. This particular sale will offer 1,070 lots on Tuesday, May 15, starting at 10:00 am. This will be the first sale in Archives International's own facilities in Fort Lee, New Jersey which is across the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan.

The Spring Auction includes three main types of collectibles: banknotes (555 lots), security printing ephemera (102 lots) and stocks and bonds (413 lots). Foreign banknotes are heavily represented among the banknotes, but there are gobs of obsolete currency sheets that I haven't seen since the big Christie's sales in 1990.

All sorts of items are represented among the lots of security printing ephemera including engraved vignettes, advertising sheets, invitations, and advertising cards, primarily in specimen and proof form
Obviously, I am most interested in the 87 lots of railroad material, 83 of which are from the U.S. There are numerous stars in the sale, and there are surely to be items of interest to all U.S. collectors, depending on specialty. In general, price estimates congregate in the $200 to $600 range with some higher and some lower.

My favorites include specimens from the Texas Central Railroad, the Quanah Acme & Pacific Railway and the Galveston Houston & San Antonio Railway. Perhaps my favorite is a proof from Morgan's Louisiana & Texas Railroad & Steamship Company. There are 61 specimens and proofs in the sale, leaving 28 issued certificates, almost evenly split between cancelled and uncancelled.

One of the cancelled certificates is a Jay Gould-signed bond from the Troy Salem & Rutland Rail Road. The price estimate is $200 to $300 which I must say seems a very fair estimate. For whatever reason, these bonds are a little more common than they were fifteen years ago, but they are still very far from "common"! Moreover, these bonds are among only a tiny handful of certificates that display Gould signatures other than the numerous MKT stocks.

Another standout is a 1919 uncancelled stock certificate of the Alaska Anthracite Rail Road Company. Take my word, they're not making any more of those!

Finally, I have to mention a local Colorado favorite, an uncancelled (correction: CANCELLED, see comments below) 1873 Colorado Central Rail Road Company stock certificate. This particular certificate is one that carries the signature of Henry Teller, a man who made a fortune playing lawyer in the gold fields of Central City and Black Hawk. I once donated a small letter signed by Teller for sale at a historical society fund raiser. Admittedly, Teller's autograph means more here than most anywhere else, but my donated Teller autograph fetched $250, and that was almost 20 years ago!

If you have not already received your beautifully-printed catalog, be sure to contact Archives International Auctions as soon as possible. As I mentioned above, the sale will take place May 15th, 2012. Ask for the "Spring Auction 2012" catalog or "Part XI" catalog.

If short on time, go to the Archives International web site and bid online.

February 22, 2012

Mario Boone's sale 48 coming quick

Mario Boone will present auction 48 as well as a huge stock and bond bourse in Antwerp's Crowne Plaza hotel on March 10 and 11. The bourse is billed as the world's largest scripophily event. Auction 48 will offer 1590 lots of items from around the globe; 273 lots represent North American countries.

While my interests are obvioiusly rail-related, Mario's catalogs always offer very fascinating pieces from other industries. Take a look at his colorful catalog and you will be astounded at the sizes of some vignettes, particularly several from Portugal. Several other European certificates are downright astounding.

This time, North American railroads are represented by 56 single-item lots plus one large lot of 67 Cuban railroad certificates. I can't say how many Cuban specialists there may be, but I recommend close attention to that lot (#233). It contains numerous rarities and I can only hope that the winner will scan certificates and send copies. If there is a downside, it might be the 5,000 EUR start price.

Having said that, I heartily applaud the European practice of clearly posting minimum bids. Why American sales have abandoned the custom is really quite beyond me. Collectors may not like posted minimum bids. but they never need to question how much to bid. Some collectors will always complain about apparently high European prices, but astute observers will always be able to spot potential bargains. In the few minutes I've spent with the catalog, I already noticed several. As always, the question remains to be seen who else might bid who owns a more well-stocked wallet.

You still have time to order Mario's full-color catalog from www.booneshares.com. Or call 0032-(0)9-386-97-66. All auction lots are online and illustrated and you may bid until March 9. Again, the sale will take place March 10 and 11, so I suggest quick action.

January 06, 2012

Massive Spink 312 catalog available

Spink Smythe will offer 3,517 lots over a course of three days. The sale will be held at Spink New York headquarters starting Monday, January 16. As with its recent sales, this sale continues its Collector's Series and will again feature paper money, coins, autographs and stocks and bonds.

Catalog #312 sports 322 pages of lots, with just a little less than half the pages dedicated to stocks and bonds. In terms of lots, stocks and bond account for 1,838 lots, or 52% of the entire catalog!

As usual, railroads represent the largest single industry group. I count 501 lots directly related to railroads including a large selection of 19 lots of railroad aid bonds.

Like other recent Spink Smythe sales, roughly two-thirds of the railroad-related lots are multiple-item lots. That means that one-third of the lots are single-item lots that feature some of the classier material including scarcer items and more expensive autographed certificates. As expected, personalities such as Morgan, Gould, Sage, Huntington and the like are well-represented.

The median lot in this sale includes eight items. Some collectors may object to multi-item lots, but they overlook the great opportunity to acquire items for very low per-item costs. With eBay an inexorable fact of life, it is now vastly easier for collectors to liquidate duplicate and unwanted items than ever before. Let's also remember that 8-item lots are very much smaller than in the days when Smythe was selling off the huge Penn Central hoard. Personally, I'm a great fan of moderate-sized lots.

I calculate that Spink Smythe will offer in the neighborhood of 13,000 railroad-related certificates. More if you count less obvious material grouped with non-railroad and general certificates. That is a LOT of certificates. And yet, the minimum estimated value for that number works out to only about $8 per certificate! That tells me that with rare exception, most of the collection is fairly priced, if not under-priced to the market. It looks to me that there are some serious deals to be had.

If interested in participating in sale #312, I suggest you contact Spink Smythe right away. Believe me, there is NEVER sufficient lead time. Even carefully reading the descriptions of several hundred lots takes more time than you will have. The quickest way is to visit the Spink Smythe web site or call 212-262-8400. You may attend the sale and bid in person; you may bid by mail or you may bid online via Spink Live.