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New Harlan J. Berk Sale (# 224) begins, including Curtis Clay Collection Part 1


DonnaML

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A smaller inventory than usual, but it includes the first part of the sale of Curtis Clay's Roman coin collection. I had no idea he was selling.  A lot of interesting coins! See https://www.hjbltd.com/#!/inventory/buy-or-bid/ .

Here's the description I received as an email this morning. It seems that it was a straight purchase by HJB of Curtis's entire collection of 5,000+ Roman coins, rather than a consignment: 

"We present to you our 224th Buy or Bid Sale which includes the first offering of the Curtis Clay, Roman Coin Collection lots 1-199 as well as our normal high grade selection of ancient and world coins as well as antiquities lots 200 on.

We are pleased and honored to have purchased Curtis Clay’s collection of Roman coins, amounting to well over 5,000 pieces. Curtis specialized in coins that were rare or unpublished, focusing especially on varieties unrepresented in the enormous, nearly definitive British Museum Collection. In the spotlight of Curtis’ expert knowledge and meticulous eye, seemingly common coins were recognized as extreme rarities. What we are offering today is the first of a series of sales that will appear over the next two years or more, representing the cream of his collection. When completed, a book will be published of these coins, entitled “The Highlights of the Curtis Clay Collection”. Other coins from the collection will be offered in online sales. All coins will be labeled “Curtis Clay Collection”, and some will be included in the Highlights book as well. The coins offered in our Buy or Bid Sales will be in chronological order, organized by Curtis himself. Most lots will include Curtis’ original tickets, with complete provenance and in some cases more extensive historical or numismatic notes than space in the catalogue allows. These sales will represent a chance for fortunate and astute collectors of Roman coins to fill their own collections with these special pieces. A rare opportunity!"

As usual, a lot of the more inexpensive lots were already sold by the time I saw the email and took a look at the sale!

Edited by DonnaML
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After scrolling through everything, I can safely say that most of the coins, from Curtis's collection or otherwise, are too rich for my blood! So for the first time in a while, I'm afraid I won't be buying any.  By the way, are the coin photos all in black and white, or am I imagining things?

I did, however, make one purchase: an attractive little ancient Egyptian scarab, with a pedigree to a previous HJB sale from 20 years ago. (I checked, and the current buy price is less than half of what it was in the old sale!) I will post photos when I receive it, in the antiquities forum. It will bring my total number of ancient scarabs to eight. Which I've heard is enough. 

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Just now, Ocatarinetabellatchitchix said:

What’s going on ? Okidoki is selling his Hadrian’s collection, Barnaba6 is getting rid of his 1900 Probus’ specimens, and now Curtis Clay….🤯

Don't forget @Julius Germanicus selling his wonderful collection of sestertii. Do people know something I don't know?

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I'm kind of glad this sale focuses on Roman coins. I just paid my Leu invoice and can use the break. 🙂 I bought one coin at their last sale but didn't see anything interesting at this one.

Maybe later this year there will be a few collectors of ugly 4th century Greek bronze coins who decide to unload their collections.

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Wow. I really don't understand some of those prices. Am I missing something?

Lot 52, for example - a Nero "Temple of Janus" as - $950?? I would expect a coin like this to be priced more around $150 - $200, tops, even in today's market. Is it an extremely rare variant or something? I don't see anything special noted in the description.

There seem to be quite a few lots that appear priced much, much higher than the current market. 🤔

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16 minutes ago, CPK said:

Wow. I really don't understand some of those prices. Am I missing something?

Lot 52, for example - a Nero "Temple of Janus" as - $950?? I would expect a coin like this to be priced more around $150 - $200, tops, even in today's market. Is it an extremely rare variant or something? I don't see anything special noted in the description.

 

For condition alone, it's not great. But it is described as an apparently rare variant -- "This variant not in RIC or MacDowall" -- but I don't see an explanation of what the variant is. I guess HJB is thinking that anyone interested in such variants who might conceivably be willing to pay such a high price would already know what it is!

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3 minutes ago, DonnaML said:

For condition alone, it's not great. But it is described as an apparently rare variant -- "This variant not in RIC or MacDowall" -- but I don't see an explanation of what the variant is. I guess HJB is thinking that anyone interested in such variants who might conceivably be willing to pay such a high price would already know what it is!

🤦‍♂️Duh! Not sure how I missed that. $950 still sounds high, but for a rare variant, anything is possible I guess!

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3 minutes ago, Al Kowsky said:

I concur with everyone on this thread, the prices were too high & some being ridiculous 🙄...

Is Curtis sufficiently well-known to apply a premium to any coin  from his collection?

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I rarely buy from HJB, but to be fair a couple of my favorite coins and favorite shopping memories are from that firm. I have perhaps a half-dozen HJB purchases and maybe a dozen? pick bin pieces.

I think my 2023 purchase was my first since 1999 or 2000.  The post office tried mightily to destroy the package, but it somehow survived.  I just don't have any luck with priority mail, no matter who the dealer is.  I would choose Fedex were I to make another purchase. 

Some of the lots were somewhat near market norms, like some of the Heraclius Solidi.

Edited by Nerosmyfavorite68
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Some pretty pricey pieces in that sale, but I really can't comment much about the Roman coins in the first section, since I really don't specialize in republican or imperial Roman coinage. 

Some lots are on the high side due to apparently rare variants, such as the Trajan Decius sestertius, lot 439, with the two figures on the reverse both facing left, a bit unusual for this type, which is quite obtainable otherwise with the more normal reverse.  

On the world side, I think someone got a pretty good buy, even at $4,250, for the "death peso" of "Pancho" Villa, 1914, lot 507.  I think at auction that coin would fetch a hammer price around that figure, perhaps more, plus the buyer's fee.  The Guatemala 4 reales, 1769, lot 494, which sold at $800, seems high to me, but Spanish colonial coin prices, both milled and hammered, have really shot up over the past few years, so I guess I shouldn't be so surprised.

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14 hours ago, DonnaML said:

Is Curtis sufficiently well-known to apply a premium to any coin  from his collection?

The short answer is NO, but we all know Curtis Clay has been an important part of of Harlan J. Berk, LTD from it's inception, & their organization is recognizing his loyalty. One clip from the recent harlan j berk podcast 32 that I found rather amusing was Aaron's comment on CNG 542, lot 401, a denarius of Otho, pictured below. This denarius just sold for $1,920.00 including the buyers premium, with an estimate of $750.00. Aaron commented that he would never buy a coin like this because the name OTHO isn't completely visible. CNG542lot401_2.jpg.db56e66dcce9585cc6ac57016f9e0ff9.jpg

The current HJB Bid-Buy Sale 224 has an Otho denarius for sale, lot 73, from the Curtis Clay collection with a buy price of $2,000.00, see photo below. HJB224thBid-BuySaleLot73othoest_2000.jpg.dfb1c7002848effcd280ed9c8e095f7c.jpg

Now which of these two denarii would you consider a better coin for the money 🤔?

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18 hours ago, DonnaML said:

A smaller inventory than usual, but it includes the first part of the sale of Curtis Clay's Roman coin collection. I had no idea he was selling.  A lot of interesting coins! See https://www.hjbltd.com/#!/inventory/buy-or-bid/ .

Here's the description I received as an email this morning. It seems that it was a straight purchase by HJB of Curtis's entire collection of 5,000+ Roman coins, rather than a consignment: 

"We present to you our 224th Buy or Bid Sale which includes the first offering of the Curtis Clay, Roman Coin Collection lots 1-199 as well as our normal high grade selection of ancient and world coins as well as antiquities lots 200 on.

We are pleased and honored to have purchased Curtis Clay’s collection of Roman coins, amounting to well over 5,000 pieces. Curtis specialized in coins that were rare or unpublished, focusing especially on varieties unrepresented in the enormous, nearly definitive British Museum Collection. In the spotlight of Curtis’ expert knowledge and meticulous eye, seemingly common coins were recognized as extreme rarities. What we are offering today is the first of a series of sales that will appear over the next two years or more, representing the cream of his collection. When completed, a book will be published of these coins, entitled “The Highlights of the Curtis Clay Collection”. Other coins from the collection will be offered in online sales. All coins will be labeled “Curtis Clay Collection”, and some will be included in the Highlights book as well. The coins offered in our Buy or Bid Sales will be in chronological order, organized by Curtis himself. Most lots will include Curtis’ original tickets, with complete provenance and in some cases more extensive historical or numismatic notes than space in the catalogue allows. These sales will represent a chance for fortunate and astute collectors of Roman coins to fill their own collections with these special pieces. A rare opportunity!"

As usual, a lot of the more inexpensive lots were already sold by the time I saw the email and took a look at the sale!

As @Al Kowsky comments as well, the sale is mentioned by Aaron Berk in their recent podcast. Aaron Berk also mentions that Curtis Clay's collection consists of rarities mainly. So, looking at the sale; beside some lovely coins in terms of appearance (lot 43 is a beauty, just look at that fantastic Nero portrait!), overall I personally think that the prices are just too much*. I can understand that some collectors love the peculier legends, or the reverse design that's a bit different than usual. But to me, it doesn't justify the high price. Look e.g. at the Claudius middle bronzes. Some of them look great, but to me personally, it's not 'special' enough to be willing to spend that much on an overall common coin with a very rare, or unique, legend (letter added, or missing). 

46 minutes ago, Al Kowsky said:

The short answer is NO, but we all know Curtis Clay has been an important part of of Harlan J. Berk, LTD from it's inception, & their organization is recognizing his loyalty. One clip from the recent harlan j berk podcast 32 that I found rather amusing was Aaron's comment on CNG 542, lot 401, a denarius of Otho, pictured below. This denarius just sold for $1,920.00 including the buyers premium, with an estimate of $750.00. Aaron commented that he would never buy a coin like this because the name OTHO isn't completely visible. CNG542lot401_2.jpg.db56e66dcce9585cc6ac57016f9e0ff9.jpg

The current HJB Bid-Buy Sale 224 has an Otho denarius for sale, lot 73, from the Curtis Clay collection with a buy price of $2,000.00, see photo below. HJB224thBid-BuySaleLot73othoest_2000.jpg.dfb1c7002848effcd280ed9c8e095f7c.jpg

Now which of these two denarii would you consider a better coin for the money 🤔?

 I noticed the exact same thing, lol! And it's good to know that despite my low quality Otho coin, the fact that the 'OTHO' is fully legible, it's fantastic value 😉 

*Note that of course they are the 'buy' prices, one can bid lower. And there are no fees, which is great of course! And quite a few coins are sold immediately, so that means some buyers do find the prices very reasonable. So, again: just my opinion! I have one coin of Berk, with which I'm very glad, and the service was great. So no negativity there, whatsoever. 

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Hello,

defenitely the last one, when I collect the coins of "Otho" !

The first one is common but the last one is very rare.

 

I myself immediately bought 12 pieces from the Flavians on Thursday.

I can't speak for the other types but the Flavier on offer were almost cheap.

Example: https://www.hjbltd.com/#!/inventory/item-detail/ancient-coins/102800?fromBbs=224th Buy Or Bid Sale

RIC II 1² Domitian 324 (R2 / very few examples known). And this piece is the RIC plate-coin.

750$ ... I bought it immediately.

 

With friendly greetings from Germany

 

drooling.jpg

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1 hour ago, friedberg said:

Hello,

defenitely the last one, when I collect the coins of "Otho" !

The first one is common but the last one is very rare.

 

I myself immediately bought 12 pieces from the Flavians on Thursday.

I can't speak for the other types but the Flavier on offer were almost cheap.

Example: https://www.hjbltd.com/#!/inventory/item-detail/ancient-coins/102800?fromBbs=224th Buy Or Bid Sale

RIC II 1² Domitian 324 (R2 / very few examples known). And this piece is the RIC plate-coin.

750$ ... I bought it immediately.

 

With friendly greetings from Germany

 

drooling.jpg

Unfortunately overpriced, fairly common design 

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