January 13, 2015

Spink Collector's Series Sale (aka sale 321)

Regular bidders probably have received the January 27-28 "Collector's Series" sale by now. For those of you who collect auction catalogs, this is sale 321, continuing the numbering system of R.M. Smythe catalogs.

Unlike most sales in the Collector's Series, this sale is heavy with certificates. No certificates appear on the cover, but 44% of the lots in the sale (~782 lots) involve certificates. Of that number, 635 lots are from the U.S. Certificates from Cuba, particularly banking, are also well represented.

I count 305 lots involving railroad certificates. Quite a few are on the higher end of the rarity/desirability scale. I would include Alaska Central Railway (lot 1051), California Eastern Railway (lot 1075), California Southern Railroad (lot 1076), Covington Street Railway (lots 1110 and 1111) and Enos Electric Railway Supply Co (lots 1126 and 1127) among a whole host of other lots to consider very carefully.

Autographed certificates are well-represented, both in the catalog as a whole and among railroad certificates in general. In fact, one-third of all railroad certificates (108 lots) in this catalog involve some sort of "celebrity" signature. Some autographs are highly important including items with autographs of John D. Rockefeller, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George Eastman, Jay Cooke and James Longstreet.

If there is a downside to this sale, it is the lack of photographs. Only 48 railroad-related lots are illustrated.

Please don't get me wrong. I am wholeheartedly recommending this sale! I am merely pointing out that the lack of images is a really large problem for everyone publishing catalogs – MYSELF INCLUDED. It is a crucial consideration for auction catalogs because illustrations consume so much space and printing is so very expensive.

At the same time, let's accept the evidence. I can't prove it conclusively, but my data strongly suggests that illustrated lots tend to receive better bids. As a benefit to both my readers and to Spink, I suggest you pull up my Coxrail database on your computer while you are browsing the catalog. I cannot show you images of every certificate listed in the Spink catalog, but I have over 13,650 images online.

Spink's sale will take place in New York, January 27-28, 2015. The most important autographed items will go under the gavel on the 27th. This includes three lots of autograph certificates signed by Fillmore, Rockefeller and FDR (lot 812 at left) and great selection of presidential autographs. The remaining 773 lots of certificates will be auctioned on the 28th. You may, of course, bid in person, by mail or online at Spink.com. Everyone is looking for "new material", so please consider contacting Spink today for this catalog. The entire catalog is available in eCatalogue form and PDF form on the Spink site.