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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 44, October 28, 2007, Article 12

FRED HOLABIRD ON THE JOHN J. FORD ASSAY INGOT SALE

Fred Holabird of Holabird-Kagin Americana writes: 
"Concerning the Ford sale last week, certain comments 
were made that continue to exhibit blatant bias and 
unsupported accusations, which, in some cases, The E-Sylum 
noted and carefully responded to. Ongoing work on ingots 
has shown that there are more than one forger, coming from 
different parts of the country during different periods. 
The blatant bias ignores the strong possibility that some 
of these ingots were made by people feeding into the greed 
(or passion) of Franklin or Ford (though they easily could 
have contracted to have had some of these made). Further, 
scientific and historical work on several of the ingots in 
question has not been completed. Wild unsupported 
speculation regarding an ingot's authenticity and maker, 
as well as what ingots Ford had or didnít have and what 
were done with them, does no good for the industry. 
Likewise, comments on the estimates and cataloguing are 
curious, but basically meaningless. The hammer determined 
the ultimate outcome.

"Simply put, the ingots in the Ford sale did well because 
there are many collectors who want genuine pieces. The 
Stacks sale directly followed the trends set by our buyers 
in past sales: In order of preference: 1) Assayer bars, well 
marked; 2) fancy presentation bars; 3) Scarce mining camp 
assayers; 4) lesser, well marked assayer bars 5) genuine 
antique bars with poor markings. It also follows that those 
bars made by assayers related to those that made the gold 
bars of the SS Central America are worth a significant 
premium.

"While I have my own private opinions on some of the bars, 
I would generally never voice them publicly, because we 
are taught to avoid rendering an opinion on a specific 
piece that we have not tested. Exceptions exist.

"Prior to the sale I was asked about the bars by at least 
fifteen prospective buyers. Because I was involved in 
possible purchase of many, I was unable to fully comment 
to anyone, except those to whom I was a direct agent.

"Where was all the comment on the paper Clark Gruber piece?

"Regarding the comment: 'what were they thinking': If 
prices went high for specific lots, there was a very good 
reason. Just look at the buyer and underbidder as examples. 
In some cases, specific pieces were clearly condition census 
pieces - some of the finest known. In another example, the 
assay sheets, very few people know the actual rarity of 
specific pieces. I hope to publish this in our upcoming 
catalog. In example, I bought all the JG Kellogg pieces, 
and the Wass Molitor bullion receipt. They were among the 
only ones known. Several others were in the same category, 
unknown to most bidders.

"Another curious thing happened. When those of us who have 
dealt in this material for decades see specific pieces we 
have never seen before, sometimes we just step up to the 
plate and buy it. Great rarities, particularly from the west 
for our market, are in tremendous demand. Clearly, more than 
one person had the same opinion.

"In summary, from my view, it was a great sale, well attended 
and well marketed. The material was of premium caliber, and 
my hat is off to Stack's for promoting and selling paper western 
Americana, which until now, was a relative secret held by our 
own clientele. Its great stuff, fabulously rich in history, and 
generally exceedingly rare."

JOHN KLEEBERG ON THE FORD INGOT SALE
esylum_v10n41a07.html

ALAN WEINBERG ON THE STACK'S JOHN J. FORD XX AND XXI SALES
esylum_v10n42a05.html

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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