Numismatic libraries are incomplete without copies of the David Lawrence Rare Coins sale catalogs of The Richmond Collection. John Feigenbaum was
running the coin firm created by his father David Lawrence Feigenbaum when he decided to try expanding into the auction business. In an article
published this week on the site of John's CDN Publishing business (the Coin Dealer Newsletter pricing guides), John discusses the
monumental effort it took to hold that classic sale. -Editor
Years ago (circa 2003) as the owner of David Lawrence Rare Coins, I had the idea of expanding our business from direct sale-only to live
auction. I had the perfect entry point as I was offered a slot to hold the auction in conjunction with the New York Invitational coin show in
downtown Manhattan. "No problem" I said. "I'll take the slot and just solicit auction lots from my huge list of existing clients." Boy, was I naive.
I sent out the email to customers and all I heard was crickets. The other auction companies were not happy (understatement) to hear me tread on their
turf and we didn't have the software to provide even basic auction services like online bidding, etc. In 2003 there were very few third-parties
offering such things either.
But then the phone rang… our biggest client ever called. He'd seen a tiny mention in a Coin World press release and asked me, "John, do you think
my coins would do ok at auction?" I almost fell out of my chair, but quickly recovered and told him I'd be down in Naples (FL) the next day to visit
him personally and discuss the matter. To make a long story short, the following July we sold the Richmond Collection, Part I for approx $13 million.
The 3 parts would eventually total around $24 million — at the time one of the highest dollar amounts ever realized for a single collection. (The
collection featured major rarities including 1880 Coiled Hair Stella, 1885 Trade dollar, 1894-S dime and almost everything else in the Red
It was a thrilling time. But EXHAUSTING. For 2 years, I barely slept and my tiny company was overwhelmed by the herculean task of maintaining the
regular business while dealing with these 3 auctions. The sales were a HUGE success and we built incredible software along the way that paved the
future of DLRC via weekly internet sales.
We went from a sleepy little enterprise of 7-8 employees to a peak of 25 by 2007, and I'm not sure I was ever the same after. Over a decade later
in 2019 I easily recall the stress of those days, wearing every hat in the office, often waking in the middle of the night recalling a phone call I
forgot to return, a picture that needed touching up.
I have no regrets about this time. It was everything I wanted to achieve in my career and for my company. However, I get nervous feeling just
recalling the stress that accompanied those sale events.
Indeed. It's a big undertaking, even without the need to set up new technology. But that's how progress is made - try something new and
work it through. For another account of setting up an auction business, see the next article in this issue. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
The live auction business is
exhausting….but don't take my word for it. (http://blog.greysheet.com/the-live-auction-business-is-exhausting-but-dont-take-my-word-for-it/)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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