June 27, 2008

New Spink Smythe sale catalog available

I just received Spink Smythe's newest sale catalog, The Frederick Forbes Angus Collection including other fine numismatic properties. This catalog is primarily an offering for paper money. However, there are around 230 lots of corporate stocks and bonds, both domestic and foreign. Of that number, 28 lots are rail-related.

Even though this is a minimal stock and bond sale, it marks the first under the new rules of management brought by Spink. Some are pluses; some are not.

First, this marks the first where stocks and bonds are represented throughout the sale in full color. Smythe often had a small color section in the front of its catalogs and black and white elsewhere. Full color represents a welcome step up to the model of auction catalogs pioneered by major coin houses and the major European stock and bond dealers. Not all of the certificates are represented with photos, and that simply represents the reality that stocks and bonds are not going to realize big money. Average certificates cannot pay for themselves in a slick catalog.

The second major change is the commission structure. Smythe's previous commission was 15% on all hammer prices. Some of us reasoned that with today's production costs, 15% commissions in U.S. auctions were not going to last much longer. Spink Smythe has moved to a commission of 20% on the first $2000 and 15% on amounts above that. As I have always advised, it does not matter what commission rates are as long as buyers factor them in and bid accordingly.

There are two other changes that I am under-thrilled with.

It seems Spink Smythe abandoned the catalog numbering system that stretched back for 279 sales to the old NASCA days. The company has moved to a verbal system of naming sales catalogs like Christie's and Stack's.

I hope the other change is merely an oversight. I could not find a spot anywhere in the catalog, nor anywhere on the web site, where minimum bids are discussed.

For a copy of this catalog, or for clarification on minimum bids, call 800-622-1880 or email info@spinksmythe.com. The sale will take place July 16 and 17 in New York.

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