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Author Topic: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!  (Read 82334 times)

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Offline Carausius

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Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« on: June 18, 2015, 12:21:07 am »
Since purchasing John Spring's Ancient Coin Auction Catalogues, I’ve become borderline obsessive about buying old auction catalogues for my library, both for provenance research and general research.  In just the past year, I’ve acquired the following catalogues.  I’m focusing on the Roman Republic, but I’ve accessioned a few Imperial and Roman-Egypt catalogues along the way.  I’m pleased with the progress I’m making, but there are still some large, expensive holes (i.e. Martini, Prowe) and some stubborn, likely inexpensive sales that I just can't find (i.e. Myers 7, various Santamaria sales).  In a few cases, I’ve settled for reprints where I doubt I can source an affordable original.  Over time, I hope to rebind many of the currently softbound catalogues, but I’m already running-out of shelf space and hard bindings will absorb even more real estate.  

1.   Collezzione Haeberlin. A high quality, limited production reprint of the 1933 Cahn/Hess auction catalogue on good quality paper, with decent plates and handsomely bound in quarter-leather.  Expensive, but a fraction of the cost of an original.
2.   CNG 43 and 45 and Triton I (Goodman Collection).  The Triton I is hardbound.
3.   Glendining – October 1975 (Dr. H.F. Harwood Part I).
4.   Leu/MuM 21/10/66 (Niggeler vol 2).  Nice quality RR and provincial coins.  Many of the Republican coins have provenance to earlier collections.  In addition to the fine Republican coins, this catalogue contains some stunning drachms of Roman Alexandria with earlier provenance.  
5.   Leu 17 (Nicolas Collection). I had this catalogue hardbound in black “processed” leather.  “Processed” leather is the leather equivalent of plywood.  
6.   Lanz 88 (Leo Benz Collection).  Also hardbound in black processed leather.
7.   Leo Hamburger No. 95 - May 1932.  Recently purchased, but not yet received.
8.   Munzhandlung Basel 6 – March 1936.   I actually bought this catalogue for the Roman Egypt coins, but it also contains nearly 3 full plates of Republican.
9.   Munzen und Medaillen 17 - December 1957.
10.   MuM 19 - June 1959.
11.   MuM 38 – December 1968 (Coll. Voirol).   A gift from a friend. Lovely coins, many with provenance to earlier, important collections like Haeberlin.
12.   MuM 43 – November 1970.
13.   MuM 47 – November 1972.  Huge offering of Aes Grave.
14.   MuM 52 – June 1975.   I recently acquired a coin with provenance to this sale.
15.   Naville Ars Classica VIII – 1924 (Coll. Bement).   An impressive sale of Roman coins, strong in both Republican and Imperial.  Available for free online, but I’m old school and prefer to work with hardcopies.
16.   Naville Ars Classica XV – 1930 (W.H. Woodward).  A Father’s Day 2015 present, to be received next Sunday!
17.   Dr. Buso Peus Auction 322 – 1988.  Auction sale dedicated to a collection of about 650 Republican coins.  Coins are mostly gVF, with a few better, but the collection is very broad.  Per my recent thread on Forum, clues in this catalogue and in Banti’s Corpus Nummorum Romanorum lead me to suspect that this collection may have been Alberto Banti’s personal collection of Roman Republican coins.
18.   Vecchi 3 – September 1996, A Collection of Roman Republican Struck Bronze Coinage. Huge selection of struck bronzes.  I often refer to this catalogue when I need to see an example of any given struck bronze type.
19.   Vecchi 9 – December 1997, Collection of the Coinage of Augustus.
20.   NAC 10 – April 1997.  Large selection of Aes Grave.
21.   Russo, et al. The RBW Collection.  Technically not an auction catalogue, but all the RBW auction sales combined into one, easy-to-use, chronologically-arranged, sylloge-format volume.  A tremendous resource that I often use.
22.   Rodolfo Ratto – January 1924 (Bonazzi).  I ordered this recently, but have not yet received it.  
23.   Rodolfo Ratto 1927 Fixed Price List of Roman coins from the Republic through Augustus.  Bound in modern half-cloth with mottled boards.  I didn’t know it was hard-bound when I bought it, so I was pleasantly surprised upon receipt.  
24.   Rodolfo Ratto - 8/2/1928 (Morcom/Hands/Wertheim).  An impressive sale with separate loose plates in a folder at the back of the catalogue.  When I eventually re-bind this catalogue, I’m not sure whether to bind-in the plates or keep them separate.  
25.   Hans Schulman, Thomas Ollive Mabbott Collection, Parts I and II.
26.   Sotheby’s, Duke of Northumberland Collection – ex RBW’s library, with his notes and bid sheet!
27.   Sotheby’s, Eton College – ex RBW’s library, with his notes and bid sheet!
28.   Stack’s – 1938 (Faelten Collection).  Nicely hardbound in full cloth.  The plates are mediocre; but Barry Murphy gave me a very fair deal, so I took a chance.  
29.   Stack’s – May 1978 (Knobloch I Republic).  A recent purchase.  I acquired the Knobloch II Imperial catalogue new in 1980 and I bought my first auction coin from that sale!
30.   Frank Sternberg, Auction VII (November 1977).  I recently acquired a coin with provenance to this sale.
31.   Sydenham Collection. A mediocre-quality, Attic reprint of the 1928 original.  At $30, it was better than nothing…barely.

EDIT: I forgot, I just bought two more old catalogues today from FORVMCNG XII (Sep 1990), which includes part of Kerry Wetterstrom's collection of Roman Egypt bronzes, and Frank Sternberg 30 (1973).  I need a bigger house...

Offline Andrew McCabe

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2015, 06:04:58 am »
I've 26 out of this list of 31. Our interests coincide! (as if I didn't know). And many more beside too. I actually declined a copy of the Faelten collection. Possibly the worst plates ever.

Offline Carausius

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2015, 09:14:33 am »
I actually declined a copy of the Faelten collection. Possibly the worst plates ever.

For some of the plates, that's likely true. Unfortunately, the worst of the plates happen to coincide with my collecting interests.  The Ptolemaic silver and Byzantine plates aren't quite as bad. In any event, I bought it with eyes open - I was willing to take a chance because it was already hardbound and fairly priced.

Offline carthago

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2015, 09:29:12 am »
Funny, Carausius, it seems that you and I caught catalogue fever at about the same time (no doubt making some acquisitions that are in auctions expensive for both of us!).  

Since 2014, I've acquired all of Spring's Top Republican catalogues except for Bourgey 1972 Schott (horrible, horrible plates!) and Glendinging 1931 Nordheim/Evans.  I think most of the Bourgey coins are at least covered in the Bourgey Republican Coin corpus that is still available new.  I got pictures of the Nordheim plates at last time I was an the ANS yet I still search for a hardcopy which has proven elusive.  Meyers 7 proved very hard but I eventually found a copy buried away on the internet.  A worthwhile action to own IMO.  I've got a Haeberlin coin that appeared in that auction.

There are some serious errors on Spring's Top RR list.  Spring 465 - M&M 44 - has only 4-5 Roman Republicans.  Spring 423, Leu 18 has NO RR in it!  You can scratch those off of your needs if your concerned about RR.  

One to add to your modern list for Republicans should be NFA Auction XXVII 1991 which I'm told is Roberto Russo's personal collection (though it's not advertised as such) of Roman Republicans and full of outstanding coins.  Many NFA catalogues can still be found new in the shrink wrap and many of them are available hardbound.  There are lots of nice coins lurking in the M&M catalogues, as you've no doubt found out.    

I just bought a select run of Auctiones AG from the early 1973 - 1990 that I just received yesterday.  The particular sales were based on my research at the ANS but there are some great coins in them and some of very extensive RR cast bronze offerings if that's your thing.  

I know what you mean about the loose plates and rebinding.  I've got Santamari's Magnaguti and Ratto's Martini that both have loose plates and are in desperate need of rebinding.  I really need to talk over the options with the binder to see what my options are as a separate pouch would be cool and true to the original but I think practically speaking binding them in with the rest of the catalogue is probably the sensible choice.  I bought Ratto's Morcom/Hands/Wertheim already bound so I didn't even know the plates were loose to begin with and it works just fine.  

If you are ever able to visit the ANS in NY, do.  Set aside at least a full day, perhaps more if your serious about researching your catalogues and which ones you want to own.  You can preview them all there (though Meyer 7 is missing from their shelves too!).

C


Offline Carausius

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2015, 08:04:51 pm »
Quote from: carthago on June 18, 2015, 09:29:12 am
Funny, Carausius, it seems that you and I caught catalogue fever at about the same time (no doubt making some acquisitions that are in auctions expensive for both of us!).  


Acquiring Banti's Corpus last year was like learning to swim in the kiddie pool.  Within a few months, I jumped into the deep-end of catalogue buying.  I really haven't bought too many catalogues at auction and those that I have bought at auction have been mostly uncontested, sole-bidder situations; so, we have not impacted each other.  Still, I'm glad to know that you will not be among my competition for the elusive Martini, Prowe, Quadras y Ramon, etc. 

Quote from: carthago on June 18, 2015, 09:29:12 am
There are some serious errors on Spring's Top RR list.  Spring 465 - M&M 44 - has only 4-5 Roman Republicans.  Spring 423, Leu 18 has NO RR in it!  You can scratch those off of your needs if your concerned about RR. 

Yes, I had also caught both those errors, and I now double-check the full Spring description before blindly buying anything on the "top" lists. 

Quote from: carthago on June 18, 2015, 09:29:12 am
I know what you mean about the loose plates and rebinding.  I've got Santamari's Magnaguti and Ratto's Martini that both have loose plates and are in desperate need of rebinding.  I really need to talk over the options with the binder to see what my options are as a separate pouch would be cool and true to the original but I think practically speaking binding them in with the rest of the catalogue is probably the sensible choice.  I bought Ratto's Morcom/Hands/Wertheim already bound so I didn't even know the plates were loose to begin with and it works just fine

I think the plates are probably much safer bound-in than loose.  Safer from accidental tearing, folding and loss.  However, I'm not sure whether there is adequate left-hand margin on the plates to simply bind them in "raw".  I don't want the left side coin photos bound deep into the bend of the spine.  I have heard of loose plates being "hinged" before binding.  I think that means that the left side of the plate is glued to a strip of paper or fabric (to increase the left margin) and then bound, so that the plates remain fully visible.  I suppose you could then trim the right side of the plates to eliminate any protruding excess; or, if trimming is not feasible, bind them in a separate volume. 

Thanks for your advice and tips on the catalogues you mentioned.  I may visit the ANS in January during NYINC week. 

Offline Enodia

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2015, 10:40:52 pm »
i started to get obsessed by catalog collecting a number of years ago. i gathered quite a few, although none of the really old auctions being discussed here, mostly from the 80's and 90's. i did love being on the NFA subscription list, however i finally realized that on my limited budget i'd rather collect silver than paper.
i still have them though, and actually do reference the Magna Graecia sections ocassionally...

http://www.librarything.com/catalog/Enodia&tag=Numismatic+Catalogs&collection=-1

~ Peter

Offline Andrew McCabe

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2015, 11:34:58 pm »
Contributors to this thread will are already be aware of it, but for others reading, my website has an expanded and more detailed list than Spring for Republican types, and includes download links and sample photos

http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/RRAuctions.html#oldauctions

To an extent, I've moved beyond Spring's list, having ticked most of its boxes, and am am focussed on what catalogues with between one and four plates of RR happen to include high quality coins with high quality pics. Spring's list of cats with 5+ plates of RR includes lots of duds with low quality coins or photos. There are many marvellous cats with plenty of good RR (though not 5 plates) that aren't on his list.

The reason this obsession is perpetually discussed among RR collectors is I think because of the very high hit rate combined with the limited number of sales needed to get those hits. A good proportion of my 50 top pre-1970 cats contain a coin I now own. That's the sort of hit rate that encourages one to become a betting man. Just one more cat and it'll have every coin I miss...

The real secret is however in FPLs, not covered by Spring. For example, the 1963 lists of Crippa in Milan have 14 plates of high quality Roman Republican, each coin good enough for a NAC sale. And that's just one dealer in one year.

Offline Carausius

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2015, 12:52:52 pm »
i started to get obsessed by catalog collecting a number of years ago. i gathered quite a few, although none of the really old auctions being discussed here, mostly from the 80's and 90's. i did love being on the NFA subscription list, however i finally realized that on my limited budget i'd rather collect silver than paper.

That's a nice group of catalogues you've assembled, Peter.  Regarding budget, most of the catalogues on my list were purchased for less than $30 each.  There are high-priced, high-demand exceptions of course, like the Naville Ars Classica catalogues and the Ratto catalogues, but lots of good, old catalogues remain surprisingly inexpensive.

Offline Carausius

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2015, 05:15:01 pm »
The reason this obsession is perpetually discussed among RR collectors is I think because of the very high hit rate combined with the limited number of sales needed to get those hits.

It helps the hit rate for an average RR collector that the Republican series included only limited gold and largely formulaic bronzes.  As a result, the finest RR sales include many still-affordable denarii and bronzes  in the plates.  Compare this to Imperial sales where plates are often filled with aurei, stunningly artistic  bronzes, or great rarities that only a few collectors could afford to buy today.  

The real secret is however in FPLs, not covered by Spring.

Oh joy, something new for me to obsess on.   :laugh:  FPLs will require some research on my part - i.e. looking through the ANS library holdings, as suggested by Carthago - to see which are worth hunting. The alternative is to buy bulk lots of FPLs  with fingers-crossed and hope for the best. Of course, the occasional "no brainer" shows-up from time to time, like the 1927 Ratto FPL included in my original post.

Offline Carausius

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2015, 04:23:24 pm »
Received in todays mail:

Otto Helbing, Auction 63 (Coll. Prix) - April 1931.  In lovely shape, except it is MISSING plates 1 and 2 !   I don't recall that being disclosed in the offer, so I'm following-up with the seller.  If the seller fails to make it right, would any Forum member be able to send me a high-quality scan of plates 1 and 2 from this catalogue?

Offline Andrew McCabe

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2015, 05:48:35 pm »
Quote from: Carausius on June 20, 2015, 04:23:24 pm
Received in todays mail:

Otto Helbing, Auction 63 (Coll. Prix) - April 1931.  In lovely shape, except it is MISSING plates 1 and 2 !   I don't recall that being disclosed in the offer, so I'm following-up with the seller.  If the seller fails to make it right, would any Forum member be able to send me a high-quality scan of plates 1 and 2 from this catalogue?

Prix plates 1 and 2 are Aes grave. Quite high quality. It was common for aes grave plates to be in double size fold out format which might explain their loss. Since the remaining 7 plates of Republican material are high quality and given that it's a rare item I'd be inclined to keep it. The Heidelberg uni site might have this catalogue and its plates - one doesn't need an especially hi res scan for aes grave. Or I can do you a scan in time. My own copy of Prix has a high proportion of the Byzantine coins cut out, which would be a disaster if I bought it for the Byzantines. But I didn't. A high proportion of auction catalogues I've bought over time have defects such as you and I describe, because they were ephemeral collectors' aids that were lucky to escape the bin. Unless I bought it from a specialised numismatic bookseller such as Kolbe I wouldn't expect any warranties re content. Ephemera tend to come as-is.

postscript: it's online at Heidelberg, linked to from my page http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/RRAuctions.html
checking plates 1 and 2, I don't think any scan I could do would give a better result. Each page is 1100px by 800px and given a page is just one or two aes grave wide that's a reasonably high per-coin resolution

Offline Carausius

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2015, 06:21:40 pm »
Unless I bought it from a specialised numismatic bookseller such as Kolbe I wouldn't expect any warranties re content. Ephemera tend to come as-is.

Thanks, Andrew.  I will look at the Heidelberg site to see what I can pull from there.  As it happens, I did buy the catalogue from a coin/coin literature dealer, so I would have expected disclosure of any missing plates.  However, the offer was in a foreign (to me) language, which I translated before purchasing, but it's possible I missed the disclosure.  If I missed it, then shame on me and I'm "stuck" with this hard to find catalogue.  If there was no disclosure, I will likely still keep the catalogue, but may try to negotiate a reduced price for my reduced Prix !

Offline Carausius

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2015, 10:03:13 pm »
postscript: it's online at Heidelberg, linked to from my page http://andrewmccabe.ancients.info/RRAuctions.html
checking plates 1 and 2, I don't think any scan I could do would give a better result. Each page is 1100px by 800px and given a page is just one or two aes grave wide that's a reasonably high per-coin resolution

 +++  I agree, the Heidleberg scans should do nicely.  I will want to find paper of comparable weight to the existing plates for a closer match, and I'll need to pay attention to sizing of the prints.   

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2015, 09:34:36 am »
Received in today's mail:

Rodolfo Ratto - Jan 1924 (Coll. Bonazzi), which had been on order. Cover partly detached at spine (I planned to rebind it anyway) but otherwise in fine shape. A splendid catalogue!  It is hand priced in light pencil throughout, though I've no way of knowing whether these are prices realized or a bidder's strategy notes. 

Offline carthago

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2015, 11:24:34 am »
Quote from: Carausius on June 26, 2015, 09:34:36 am
Received in today's mail:

Rodolfo Ratto - Jan 1924 (Coll. Bonazzi), which had been on order. Cover partly detached at spine (I planned to rebind it anyway) but otherwise in fine shape. A splendid catalogue!  It is hand priced in light pencil throughout, though I've no way of knowing whether these are prices realized or a bidder's strategy notes. 

That's a great sale (isn't it Riche though?)!.  I've got a price list but I think it may be the estimates and not PRL.  Shoot me some of your prices and I'll double check. 

Offline curtislclay

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2015, 11:49:50 am »
Hand pricing is always prices realized, in my experience.

The amounts should also give it away: if always even multiples of 5, 10, 100 etc., estimates; if not, prices realized.
Curtis Clay

Offline Andrew McCabe

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2015, 12:08:00 pm »
Quote from: Carausius on June 26, 2015, 09:34:36 am
Received in today's mail:

Rodolfo Ratto - Jan 1924 (Coll. Bonazzi), which had been on order. Cover partly detached at spine (I planned to rebind it anyway) but otherwise in fine shape. A splendid catalogue!  It is hand priced in light pencil throughout, though I've no way of knowing whether these are prices realized or a bidder's strategy notes. 

100% certainly prices realised. Not even I would have a strategy to bid on each and every coin in a sale.

Riche is what the title page says, but it is Bonazzi. I've an old hand marked copy that says Bonazzi, before John Spring told us so.

Offline curtislclay

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2015, 12:16:26 pm »
"Riche collection" is simply French for "rich collection". I think I have seen "Riche" cited as though it were the name of the collector, however!

Curtis Clay

Offline carthago

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2015, 01:19:31 pm »
Quote from: Carausius on June 26, 2015, 09:34:36 am
Received in today's mail:

Rodolfo Ratto - Jan 1924 (Coll. Bonazzi), which had been on order. Cover partly detached at spine (I planned to rebind it anyway) but otherwise in fine shape. A splendid catalogue!  It is hand priced in light pencil throughout, though I've no way of knowing whether these are prices realized or a bidder's strategy notes. 

100% certainly prices realised. Not even I would have a strategy to bid on each and every coin in a sale.

Riche is what the title page says, but it is Bonazzi. I've an old hand marked copy that says Bonazzi, before John Spring told us so.

"Riche collection" is simply French for "rich collection". I think I have seen "Riche" cited as though it were the name of the collector, however!

Well, there you are!  And here I've thought it was Richie Riche's collection all this time.   :-[


Offline Carausius

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2015, 01:07:30 pm »
Hand pricing is always prices realized, in my experience.

The amounts should also give it away: if always even multiples of 5, 10, 100 etc., estimates; if not, prices realized.

Quite right, Curtis. I looked through the catalogue again and most of the prices noted are precise (i.e. 3, 7, 9, 36 etc). So, I am confident these are realized prices, though who knows if they are actually correct. I shudder to think of someone relying on the accuracy of my own hand-priced catalogues 80 years from now!

Offline carthago

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2015, 02:37:34 pm »
Quote from: Carausius on June 27, 2015, 01:07:30 pm
Hand pricing is always prices realized, in my experience.

The amounts should also give it away: if always even multiples of 5, 10, 100 etc., estimates; if not, prices realized.

Quite right, Curtis. I looked through the catalogue again and most of the prices noted are precise (i.e. 3, 7, 9, 36 etc). So, I am confident these are realized prices, though who knows if they are actually correct. I shudder to think of someone relying on the accuracy of my own hand-priced catalogues 80 years from now!

Offline Carausius

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2015, 04:51:01 pm »
Thank you, Carthago!  I will compare to my catalogue tomorrow.

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #22 on: June 28, 2015, 02:02:58 am »
That looks like prices realised to me. Full of odd numbers like 11 and 26. And it shows that lots have been combined in quite a few cases, which would happen live. I'm curious as to whether it'll match the handwritten numbers.

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #23 on: June 28, 2015, 03:11:11 pm »
Note that Ratto was charging for this list: price 4 francs. So clearly prices realized on that account too, in addition to the odd numbers and combined lots. I have never heard of a dealer charging for the list of estimated prices!
Curtis Clay

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Re: Old Auction Catalogue Madness!
« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2015, 03:32:22 pm »
Note that Ratto was charging for this list: price 4 francs. So clearly prices realized on that account too, in addition to the odd numbers and combined lots. I have never heard of a dealer charging for the list of estimated prices!

Glendinings used to charge a premium cost for post-sale priced catalogues. The scale was something like, illustrated pre-sale 2 shillings, unillustrated copies at the sale free, illustrated and priced post sale 5 shillings. I know because I've a bunch of Glendinings and in some cases the same catalogue with and without prices realised with a substantial difference in price. Recall that absent the internet, there wasn't alternatives to paying for the prices realised if you wanted to follow the market. That might also explain the tendency for sale participants to manually price everything.

 

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