January 16, 2016

Spink's first Collector's Series auction of 2016

I just received a monstrous, 328-page catalog from Spink for its Collector's Series auction to be held January 27 and 28 in New York. As usual, the sale contains a wide range of collectibles including coins, medals, paper money, stocks, bonds and autographs.

While collectors in other specialties will disagree, I consider the standouts to be one hundred lots of autographs from the collection of Diana Herzog. Many of you probably met Diana at Smythe events and will remember Diana as the charming president of R. M. Smythe prior to its sale to Spink. You may not know, however, that she was a well-known autograph collector, speaker and president of the Manuscript society as well as being responsible for developing Smythe's autograph business.

The part of her collection being offered in Spink's current sale is focused entirely on notable English writers, poets and celebrities. I guarantee you will recognize numbers of very famous people, ranging from Joseph Addison to Emile Zola. Overall, I believe price estimates are very reasonable, if not a bit on the low side. May I suggest considering items from Pearl Buck, King Charles II (!), King George I, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Somerset Maugham, Lord Nelson, Beatrix Potter, Robert Louis Stevenson, Dylan Thomas, Oscar Wilde, William Wordsworth and Virginia Woolf.

Spink is also offering numbers of additional autographs outside of Diana's collection and I'll mention only a few that might capture your attention. Please consider items signed by William W. Astor, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, King George IV, Jenny Lind, Sam Houston, Harry Truman and many others.

Obviously, my purpose here is to tell you about stocks and bonds, but there are only about 161 lots to choose from. There are some wonderful items outside of the railroad specialty, of course, including items from Atwater Caloric Water Elevator Company, White Sulphur Springs Company, White Cloud City Company, Yellowstone Park Transportation Company, Cocos Island Treasure Company, Consolidated Hidden Treasure Company, Hampton Whaling Company, Lackonick Whaling Company and the ever-popular Ocean Floating Safe Company.

Oh, yeah, don't forget to look at an uncancelled stock certificate for the Augusta National Golf Club signed by (you guessed it!) Bobby Jones. See lot 1563 and don't let this item escape if you're a golf collector.

Now to the railroad specialty. I count only twenty-six lots but can testify that none of the single-item lots are common.

Without a doubt, the item with the highest estimate is a Mason & Fort Dodge Railroad Company stock certificate issued to James J. Hill in attractive calligraphic style. While Hill must have owned thousands of certificates in his lifetime, his signature, like Commodore Vanderbilt's, is quite rare on railroad certificates. The opportunity to acquire a railroad item with Hill's autograph comes along very rarely.

Another certificate that attracts a lot of attention among collectors of Colorado narrow gauges is a Rio Grande Southern bond signed by Otto Mears. Seventeen of these bonds have sold on eBay in the last two years, generally at prices in the range of Spink's low estimate. I don't know how much longer the eBay supply will last, but when it dries up, prices for these items will surely rebound.

Other items that might attract collectors will depend, of course, on items they already have in their collections. One item I know that can only be found in a couple collections is an\ABN bond from the Kansas Mexico & Orient Railway (lot 1616). I've never encountered this cancelled item before and I know of only two other such bonds, both uncancelled and serial numbered 11 and 12. For comparison, #11 sold for $73 in 1992 and then again for $400 (by HSK) about a year ago, Serial #12 was offered by Erik Boone in 1993, but I never learned the sale price. I hope collectors will realize that Spink's $250-$350 estimate is very fair for such a rare certificate.

As usual, you may view Spink's catalog online at www.Spink.com where it offers both eCatalogue and PDF versions. The best option, of course, is to order one of Spinks excellent physical catalogs. While not every lot is illustrated, images printed in the physical catalog are much better quality than either the PDF or eCatalogue versions.

Whatever choice you make, please be quick about it. The sale will take place on Wednesday and Thursday of the last week in the month.

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