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Vol 01 No. 04 - Aug Sep 1987

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About This File

Perceptions are often as powerful as reality and any business person dealing with a wide spectrum of contacts must constantly be aware o f perceptions that may affect the lines of communication.

We received a very thoughtful letter recently from Bill Raedy of North Carolina. Bill said, in part:

"Your last edition was disturbing because your main story dealt with record prices attained in recent auctions. To me it signals that you are playing to the 10% - the high rollers, the monied speculators and the dealers - or the minority.

Can this really interest the average collector, could he ever possibly imagine himself purchasing such a coin?

The story wasn't balanced and gave the impression that because a few individuals had the money to make some record breaking purchases that the market is healthy and prices are on the rise. I'm sure the market is healthy but that doesn't necessarily imply that prices should rise dramatically.

Don't forget the basic collector, the $50 - $100 purchaser who desires choice coins but can't afford the higher prices that dealers will now place on their lots and on estimates for future auctions. The last thing we want to see is higher prices."

Bill went on to describe some analyses of auction prices realized that indicated that many, if not most, coins sold at or below estimate. He concluded:

"I realize that you are, to a great degree dependent on dealers for advertisement and information that is needed for publishment of your paper and I have found most dealers are  reputable and honest - however as a  collector I find mylelf in the other  camp.

Please, in your future editions, try  to do stories on collectible coins and types that will interest the true collector, who will, I hope, be your majority."

If Bill Raedy was disturbed by the nature of our feature article last issue,  it is equally disturbing that we be perceived as "playing to" either the minority or the majority. In Vol. 1, No. 1 we outlined the purpose of The Celator . That purpose remains - to advance the appreciation of ancient numismatic art.

Most of the coins discussed in our auction feature :-vere examples of extreme rarity and exceptional artistic merit. It is cenainly impossible for the majority of collectors, regardless of financial ability, to own examples of this type.

The intent of our coverage was to illustrate that some ancient coins are indeed major works of art, not just collectible artifacts of historical curiosity. When a Van Gogh painting brings $14 million at auction, the average collector (who might be able to afford a Rembrandt print) certainly doesn't cry 'foul' at the major network coverage. I doubt seriously if the price of the Van Gogh drove up the price of Rembrandt prints, and 1  haven't seen any indications that the price of Arthur Houghton's Seleucus I tetradrachm did much to drive up the price of 4th century Roman bronze coins.

The perception, as stated in this case, seems to be that The Celator is encouraging the escalation of higher prices for average collectible material. That perception is totally misplaced. From a purely logical standpoint, the more subscribers a paper has, the more successful it can become. There are not so many collectors of ancient coins in this country that one has to beat them away from the door, therefore, new collectors are eagerly sought out by publishers and coin dealers alike.

High prices discourage new collectors and slow the enthusiasm of established collectors. No dealer can continue to carry the same overpriced material around from show to show, or run it in list after list, while paying extremely high overhead costs. Low prices are to the advantage of the dealer and The Celator as weil as the collector.

On the subject of articles about coins that the majority can afford, check Vol. I, NO.2 of The Celator. We ran a front page article about a common bronze coin from Aradus that seems to depict a distinctly narrative scene, probably unique in ancient art. I have seen many examples of the featured coin offered for as little as $10 and never more than $40, even in exceptional condition.


The subject of auctions, and how much a coin is worth, was also raised last issue in a Letter to the Editor  from Russell Bobkoskie. Our reply advised collectors to "pay what ~ think a coin is worth, not what someone else thinks a coin is worth.6 We reiterate that advice.

Perceptions are powerful things, they can work to one's advantage or they can be incredibly destructive. W e appreciate Bill Raedy's sharing this perception with us so that we can better communicate our point of view.


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