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12 Caesars Lot for Sale on CNG... and a challenge


idesofmarch01
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Yesterday I was perusing CNG's Coin Shop for new items and noticed a rather unusual offering -- a high quality lot of 12 Caesars denarii:

image.jpeg.cfe2f6d1e94c685974519d48589b6f95.jpeg

The listed price is $97,500 and there is more detail on their website.

This piqued my curiosity about whether I could put together an equal or better collection using only coins available publicly, at auction or purchase, within the last two years and equal to or less than CNG's list price.  Here's what I came up with:

image.jpeg.93c31f696df11ac0bda1577e0411221e.jpeg

My collection would have cost $93,200 including an average 20% buyer's fee for those 11 coins that were sold in auctions and arguably each coin is as good or better than CNG's lot (no insult to CNG intended!).

So, here's the challenge: can anyone here put together their own virtual 12 Caesars denarii collection, within the above criteria, at or better than my $93,200?

I'm also interested in hearing everyone's general thoughts and opinions on CNG's and my set.

Finally, here's the approximate cost for each of the coins I chose:

Julius Caesar -- $8,400

Augustus Caesar -- $8,500

Tiberius -- $3,600

Caligula -- $12,000

Claudius -- $10,500

Nero -- $6,600

Galba -- $8,600

Otho -- $9,600

Vitellius -- $10,300

Vespasian -- $4,600

Titus -- $6,000

Domitian -- $4,500

 

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With patience, yes. 

I paid $400 for this Titus elephant. Sure, it's nowhere near the quality of that posted, but there was a much better copy in the same auction that went for $1000.

I recently saw a Nero Salus from a reputable dealer on VCoins with a quality not that far off for $600.

Caligula and Claudius will cost a lot more, but I'm sure with time nice copies can be had for less than $10k.

I believe this CNG lot is for someone who has far more money than patience.

titus.jpg.5c521654f1852103d913c47d6f5cc0bb.jpg

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8 hours ago, idesofmarch01 said:

Yesterday I was perusing CNG's Coin Shop for new items and noticed a rather unusual offering -- a high quality lot of 12 Caesars denarii:

image.jpeg.cfe2f6d1e94c685974519d48589b6f95.jpeg

The listed price is $97,500 and there is more detail on their website.

This piqued my curiosity about whether I could put together an equal or better collection using only coins available publicly, at auction or purchase, within the last two years and equal to or less than CNG's list price.  Here's what I came up with:

image.jpeg.93c31f696df11ac0bda1577e0411221e.jpeg

My collection would have cost $93,200 including an average 20% buyer's fee for those 11 coins that were sold in auctions and arguably each coin is as good or better than CNG's lot (no insult to CNG intended!).

So, here's the challenge: can anyone here put together their own virtual 12 Caesars denarii collection, within the above criteria, at or better than my $93,200?

I'm also interested in hearing everyone's general thoughts and opinions on CNG's and my set.

Finally, here's the approximate cost for each of the coins I chose:

Julius Caesar -- $8,400

Augustus Caesar -- $8,500

Tiberius -- $3,600

Caligula -- $12,000

Claudius -- $10,500

Nero -- $6,600

Galba -- $8,600

Otho -- $9,600

Vitellius -- $10,300

Vespasian -- $4,600

Titus -- $6,000

Domitian -- $4,500

 

Maybe I have been staring at trachys too long but this CNG lot doesn’t seem worth half that

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I haven't had a chance to look at them in depth but I'm also wondering what the pedigrees are/what their cost is if they've sold publicly. I've often wondered the premium applied to "sets" like this (although I've also wondered what kind of collector would want to buy a set en-bloc without adding their own personal touch to it).

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Posted (edited)

Yes, there are four especially expensive Caesars out of the 12 if you want denarii in nice condition: Julius Caesar, Caligula, Claudius, and Otho. I have none of those four in denarii.  (Imperial bronzes of Caligula and Claudius are not very expensive.) But there are perfectly good examples of the other 8 available for a few hundred dollars each (certainly no more than $500), and I would guess that you could still put together a very decent set of the 12 for a total of around $10-15,000.   

Edited by DonnaML
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23 minutes ago, TheTrachyEnjoyer said:

Maybe I have been staring at trachys too long but this CNG lot doesn’t seem worth half that

Agree, seems the value somewhere between $25,000-$50,000 tops

Edited by El Cazador
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8 minutes ago, DonnaML said:

Yes, there are four especially expensive Caesars out of the 12 if you want denarii in nice condition: Julius Caesar, Caligula, Claudius, and Otho. I have none of those four in denarii.  (Imperial bronzes of Caligula and Claudius are not very expensive.) But there are perfectly good examples of the other 8 available for a few hundred dollars each (certainly no more than $500), and I would guess that you could still put together a very decent set of the 12 for a total of around $10-15,000.   

Realistically $20,000 - $50,000 all in XF or better condition 

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, El Cazador said:

Realistically $20,000 - $50,000 all in XF or better condition 

Hey, who needs XF?  Yes, visual appeal is always important, but I'd much rather spend $10-15,000 on a VF set than more than twice that -- never mind 9x that much -- to go one or two levels up. 

I'd be happy to stay with any of these without an upgrade, and I don't think a single one would qualify as XF:

image.jpeg.4a6d450e93c900cc968422f45190dc0b.jpeg

Or maybe I would cheat slightly and go with this one, since it does, after all, qualify as Imperial silver:

image.jpeg.2463ae321a3ab427fe0ab25a378b5769.jpeg

Plus these:

image.jpeg.297eec8ac1c9e1e697537d255bca14f1.jpeg

image.jpeg.e68d3f2f334d3f587d776389de3e188a.jpeg

image.jpeg.f51953a27e000dea28b99835e2e6607d.jpeg

Or maybe I'd sneak this one in instead:

image.jpeg.50d4c7f9207f803a0c01113967a401b1.jpeg

image.jpeg.9e9e4e6582f34d90ec2de767eaf6a5a0.jpeg

image.jpeg.4343d43b37824641c212bddde2ef2fc2.jpeg

Edited to add: I should probably make clear that a 12 Caesars set (in silver or otherwise) is an extremely low priority for me. There are a great many coins I'd rather spend money on than denarii of Otho, Caligula, Claudius, or even Julius Caesar.  I do have a pretty decent Nero denarius, but I need to re-photograph it from the one I have, which is Frank Robinson's. I won't post that one! If I were to mix in bronze, I have this Nero Temple of Janus as that I like:

image.jpeg.1355e28c413547a8dcb93b1d92938fb5.jpeg

Edited by DonnaML
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1 hour ago, AncientJoe said:

I haven't had a chance to look at them in depth but I'm also wondering what the pedigrees are/what their cost is if they've sold publicly. I've often wondered the premium applied to "sets" like this (although I've also wondered what kind of collector would want to buy a set en-bloc without adding their own personal touch to it).

Since it is in the CNG shop you could probably half the dollar amount and come closer to a more suitable retail price.

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1 hour ago, DonnaML said:

Hey, who needs XF?  Yes, visual appeal is always important, but I'd much rather spend $10-15,000 on a VF set than more than twice that -- never mind 9x that much -- to go one or two levels up. 

I'd be happy to stay with any of these without an upgrade, and I don't think a single one would qualify as XF:

image.jpeg.4a6d450e93c900cc968422f45190dc0b.jpeg

Or maybe I would cheat slightly and go with this one, since it does, after all, qualify as Imperial silver:

image.jpeg.2463ae321a3ab427fe0ab25a378b5769.jpeg

Plus these:

image.jpeg.297eec8ac1c9e1e697537d255bca14f1.jpeg

image.jpeg.e68d3f2f334d3f587d776389de3e188a.jpeg

image.jpeg.f51953a27e000dea28b99835e2e6607d.jpeg

Or maybe I'd sneak this one in instead:

image.jpeg.50d4c7f9207f803a0c01113967a401b1.jpeg

image.jpeg.9e9e4e6582f34d90ec2de767eaf6a5a0.jpeg

image.jpeg.4343d43b37824641c212bddde2ef2fc2.jpeg

Edited to add: I should probably make clear that a 12 Caesars set (in silver or otherwise) is an extremely low priority for me. There are a great many coins I'd rather spend money on than denarii of Otho, Caligula, Claudius, or even Julius Caesar.  I do have a pretty decent Nero denarius, but I need to re-photograph it from the one I have, which is Frank Robinson's. I won't post that one! If I were to mix in bronze, I have this Nero Temple of Janus as that I like:

image.jpeg.1355e28c413547a8dcb93b1d92938fb5.jpeg

I have to disagree. Vast majority of serious collectors preferred XF+ quality and in some instances MS… to me, it’s about quality, not quantity 

 

and btw, Vespasian Aureus and Tiberius would likely qualify as XF under NGC grading criteria 

but again, to each its own!

Edited by El Cazador
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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, El Cazador said:

I have to disagree. Vast majority of serious collectors preferred XF+ quality and in some instances MS… to me, it’s about quality, not quantity 

 

and btw, Vespasian Aureus and Tiberius would likely qualify as XF under NGC grading criteria 

but again, to each its own!

Of course everyone has their own standards, and I wasn't suggesting that what I said applied to anyone other than myself personally. The two most expensive denarii of the ones I posted were the Tiberius ($450 from Kirk Davis) and the Galba (a bit more than $600 from Marc Breitsprecher), both sold to me as VF.  Given the off-center reverse and the incomplete legends, I very much doubt that the Tiberius would qualify as XF, even with its very nice portrait. But I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, there's a point of diminishing returns from minute marginal improvements in condition -- the kind that US coin collectors seem to be so obsessed with! The Galba that @idesofmarch01 found is the same type as mine, and I'm sure is in somewhat better condition. But there's no way that it's sufficiently superior to justify spending 15 times as much as I did on mine!  And of course I "prefer" an XF coin, but it's a question of whether the additional visual appeal is worth multiples of the cost of a VF coin. I also am not enamored of your use of the term "serious collector" to mean someone willing and able to spend $10,000 instead of, say, $1,000 in order to buy an XF vs. VF ancient coin. All that means to me is that someone is wealthy, not that they're "serious." I consider my purchases as seriously as anyone, and I'd like to think I only buy attractive coins.

As for the cistophorus, that cost me more than $1,000 from Wessex Coins in the UK, but Augustus cistophori in even VF condition tend to be quite expensive.  The Vespasian aureus is, of course, a different story; I spent more on that than on my two next most expensive coins put together. And yes it's in nice condition, and yes, I could probably sell it for a lot more than I paid, but that's less because of its condition than because I was able to document its published photographic provenance back to the de Sartiges Collection in 1910, rather than merely to the 1938 Ars Classica auction, which was the provenance that the seller provided.

Edited by DonnaML
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6 minutes ago, DonnaML said:

Of course everyone has their own standards, and I wasn't suggesting that what I said applied to anyone other than myself personally. The two most expensive denarii of the ones I posted were the Tiberius ($450 from Kirk Davis) and the Galba (a bit more than $600 from Marc Breitsprecher), both sold to me as VF.  Given the off-center reverse and the incomplete legends, I very much doubt that the Tiberius would qualify as XF, even with its very nice portrait. But I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, there's a point of diminishing returns from minute marginal improvements in condition -- the kind that US coin collectors seem to be so obsessed with! The Galba that @idesofmarch01 found is the same type as mine, and I'm sure is in somewhat better condition. But there's no way that it's sufficiently superior to justify spending 15 times as much as I did on mine! As for the cistophorus, that cost me more than $1,000 from Wessex Coins in the UK, but Augustus cistophori in even VF condition tend to be quite expensive.  The Vespasian aureus is, of course, a different story; I spent more on that than on my two next most expensive coins put together. And yes it's in nice condition, and yes, I could probably sell it for a lot more than I paid, but that's less because of its condition than because I was able to document its published photographic provenance back to the de Sartiges Collection in 1910, rather than merely to the 1938 Ars Classica auction, which was the provenance that the seller provided.

Again, everyone has different standards: personally, i care less about pedigree and more about eye appeal, grade, strike, surfaces!

out of all, i do like your Galba, Tiberius and Vespasian the most, just because the condition is far superior to the other ones you provided

PS Kirk Davis always has great stuff!👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

Edited by El Cazador
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1 minute ago, El Cazador said:

Again, everyone has different standards: personally, i care less about pedigree and more about eye appeal, grade, strike, surfaces!

out of all, i do like you Galba, Tiberius and Vespasian just cause condition is far superior to the other ones you provided

PS Kirk Davis always has great stuff!👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

Indeed he does; I always love getting his little printed catalogs in the mail. Just like the good old days!

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Just now, El Cazador said:

Yeah, but he stopped listing on Vcoins, rarely see new stuff nowadays 

I guess he saves his new stuff for the catalogs. There wouldn't be much point to the catalogs if everything was already listed on VCoins.

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6 hours ago, El Cazador said:

I have to disagree. Vast majority of serious collectors preferred XF+ quality and in some instances MS… to me, it’s about quality, not quantity 

 

and btw, Vespasian Aureus and Tiberius would likely qualify as XF under NGC grading criteria 

but again, to each its own!

By ‘serious’ do you mean ‘rich’?

Quality is a reasonable goal, but a serious collector will love a low grade coin if it’s special and ticks all the boxes of their collection criteria. The grade of ancients isn’t usually even mentioned on here.

Indeed for me, grade is an obsolete idea now that eye appeal can be assessed by a photo.

Edited by John Conduitt
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1 hour ago, John Conduitt said:

By ‘serious’ do you mean ‘rich’?

That is the definition of 'serious' in the market today where we see people who know nothing about coins spending without limit sometimes guided by a knowledgeable professional and sometimes not.  When it comes to 'sets', I tend to prefer to see matching condition rather than matching price per coin.  If the Otho and Caligula are dogs but the Domitian is MS, the whole set looks funny to me. 

Each can decide whether we collect to impress the competition, to learn about the coins or to invest in the hope of financial return.  The CNG set is not aimed at anyone I would call 'serious' in any way but probably 'rich' enough that they don't care.  

About 30 years ago I heard a relatively big name dealer define a 'serious' collector as on that spent $1000 a year on coins.  Then I was 'serious'.  Today, I would expect that number to be considerably higher to qualify for the tag since the cheapest single coin in the 'ides alternative' set is $4500.   I'm not interested in being 'serious'.  While I agree with Donna that VF coins are best 'for me', the fact remains that our lower grade coins have not appreciated in value along with the 'serious' coins.  We see with some regularity people complaining that their castoffs brought disappointing returns in the auction to which they were consigned.  I have that problem when it comes to selling coins.  If a coin does not seem to me to be worth having in my collection, how can I expect anyone else to pay me more than I paid for the coin I don't want?  This is not a problem for investors who don't care about the coins as much as the profit but it is for those of us who are interested in the coins for other reasons. 

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