Jeffrey P. LaPlante submitted these thoughts on the recent numismatic literature auction by David Fanning.
I want to thank you for bringing my attention to the David Fanning auction of December 3rd, 2009. I was able to obtain a bidder card after contacting Mr. Fanning and he was gracious enough to accept my credentials on short notice. This was a new experience for me because of the format. There are no fancy computer tools and widgets to confound anybody. The auction process is streamlined, all that is required is for one to send an email or call.
I sent an email, thinking rightly that Mr. Fanning would be very busy. In the email, you write down the item lot number, enter your opening bid, the maximum you are willing to part with for an item(s) and viola. Then after a few days have gone by you have either won an item or not. Very efficient and clean. The days went by and I received an email from David with the invoice attached. I had bid and won Lot 435: Error Trends Coin Magazine Vols. 4 and 5 with The NECA Errorscope Oct 72 thru July 73. I really can’t wait to see some of the old advertisements, and read about the latest finds; back in the day as it were.
The following is my two cents on what I think are some of the more interesting aspects of the auction. First of all my only regret is that I did not bid on more of the manuscripts that were available. It is Christmas time and money is in short supply everywhere, or so I hear. It is definitely so in the LaPlante household.
Of course the major highlights of the auction and the examples that garnered the most attention sold well as follows:
Lot 607: A complete, 21-volume set of hardcover Stack’s Ford catalogues brought $2500
Lot 375: A 1795 Supplementary Mint Act hand-signed by Secretary of State Edmund Randolph brought $2400
Lot 409: John J. Ford’s set of inscribed Red Books (1960-1998) brought $1600
Lot 573: The rare 1917 ANA sale, hand-signed by Wayte Raymond, brought $1300 on a $500 estimate amid heavy bidding
What I believe to be one of the great deals of the auction was the sale of Lot 205: Royal Cortissoz beautiful work about Augustus St. Gaudens, a First Edition in near fine condition which sold for $50.00. This is one that slipped past me and I wish to gosh I had bid on it.
Lot 221: an 1885 Evans did not sell, granted it is a paper-bound edition but rare in its own right. There were many versions and years of Evans and most sold away at the hammer. Why this first did not go is indeed a mystery. Lots 354 and 355 a 1965 and 1976 volume of Penny Whimsy also did not sell and again I am at a loss to explain the vagaries of auction attentiveness as the suggested estimates were certainly affordable.
Lot 167: Q. David Bowers’ American Coin Treasures and Hoards and Caches of Other American Numismatic Items sold for $90.00 and the going rate on this volume retails between $125 and $220, a great buy from this auction bidder's view.
The auction was a success and there was an abundance of important works up for bid and even so given the state of the economy. I emailed David about the auction and he was kind enough to offer his take on the event, he said, "Although the weak economy can be seen in the fair-to-middling results for works that are either regularly encountered or of limited audience, rare and especially desirable works continue to bring strong prices."
Mr. Fanning continues to bring rare and unique numismatic works to the fore. David Fanning auctions can be found at www.fanningbooks.com and he publishes an informative online newsletter called The Bookshelf which offers additional numismatic volumes to fill your library.
Many thanks to Jeff for his review. Rare items will always be rare, and remain desirable in any market. Some bidders did find bargains, but that's all the more reason for everyone to be on their toes in 2010 - get your bids in so you don't have to kick yourself if something goes for less than it's worth to you.
By the way, why do we "put our two cents in"... but the going rate is only a "penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going? And speaking of imponderables, how is it that we put men on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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