A Word from our Chairman
Dear Friends and Clients
At least we got the Olympics this summer!
After Covid-19, Brexit 20, Delta 21 … I feel we’ll get Liberation 22, either through some level of herd immunity, or we’ll simply learn to live with the virus and its variants. Even though business is good as existing collectors are adding to their collections at an unprecedented pace, and new collectors are emerging as never before in my two decades at Spink, giving Spink one of its best first halfs ever, I must say the summer brought me mixed feelings.
Yes we could travel a bit, that is if we were quick enough to adapt to the ever changing rules (!), we could see friends and family, and we had the amazing feast of the Olympics, with the world’s amateur young athletes showing us in their postevent interviews that we live in a wonderful world where amazing destinies abound for those who choose to commit to their passion. I used to row competitively and now the same competitive spirit animates my collecting habits. But apart from a great collectables market, a summer with loved ones and great Olympics (in a country whose population did not want to hold them …), we witnessed a planet literally on fire, already 590,000 hectares burnt down in Europe since 1st July, with temperatures reaching 47 degrees Celsius in Spain and 48 degrees Celsius in Italy. And at the time of writing the human tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan shows that manmade disasters still abound. If there were more collectors, scholars of history in their own ways, maybe we would not repeat the same mistakes all over again … Collecting, beyond the fun it provides, also gives us some much needed perspective.
What’s next for the Collectables market?
Now the big question is to know if the extraordinarily favourable conditions for collectables will last. They are driven by the inability for most of us to travel and “revenge consumption” as people are trapped at home and spending less than in more normal times. There will be two key drivers to see how long this golden era for collectables can last. On travel, Bloomberg just released a very good survey on the travel conditions between 40 main global cities for business and leisure, including of course our offices in London, Hong Kong, New York and Switzerland. Only 20% of these 1,538 possible routes are now more accessible than previously. Still 34% of those routes are not possible and another 12% are possible but with quarantine on arrival, which makes them difficult for travellers. So it is fair to say that 50% of the most travelled international routes are still de facto closed. With the emergence of the delta variant among others, it is fair to assume that travel complications will last at least until the end of the year, as when routes are open again it will take time for major airlines to re-establish the seat capacity on these routes. Therefore it seems this positive factor for collectables will stay in place for the foreseeable future.
For consumption, we have seen a sharp rebound in all our markets post- initial lockdowns; for example, consumption in the UK is up an impressive 7.3%% in 2Q21. But this might not last for many quarters as economists and investors are wondering if the post-Covid peak consumption is not already behind us in the main markets of Europe, USA and China. However as spending money on collectables and enjoying time spent with our collections is providing much needed solace, it might stay longer than more traditional consumption. The return of inflation and the massive quantitative easing might also encourage savvy collectors to keep spending on their collections. So I think this driver will also stay positive for a while longer. To conclude, we thought this extraordinary time for collectables would be tapering off by now, but because of the above, we now believe this favourable environment might last for another few quarters, and we certainly see no sign of slowing down yet in our auctions. This is also compounded by the fact that many dealers must replenish their stock and hence participate more aggressively than before in our auctions. So the window to achieve great selling rates and great prices is still open for potential vendors. This is the type of opportunity we see once in a generation for sellers.
An extremely strong market in all categories in the last few months
Just over a year on from the first pandemic lockdown, Parts I and II of the Dr Tony Abramson Collection of Dark Age Coinage grossed an impressive £850,000, with heated bidding reflecting the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire coins which have not been seen on the market for a generation. April saw a record-shattering auction of World Banknotes with a plethora of paper money rarities, including the spectacular Zanzibar 100 rupee note, achieving no less than eight world records. This was followed in July by our Bank of Scotland and Bank of England charity auctions, which were a resounding success – the latter raised over £250,000 for its nominated charities – please see London News for further details of the sales. The months folllowing have been as busy as ever, with bidders finally – cautiously – allowed back in person, and what a joy it has been to meet with some of our clients face to face once more. Our July preview reception for the Jamaica Dubois Part II Auction showed just how much we have all missed human contact over the past months, and how important it is to be able to view our beloved collectables in person once more. The hectic programme of the London Coin department is by now familiar to an increasing number of eager online and returning room and telephone bidders. Spink Numismatics Department has already offered over 4,000 lots since February – an impressive feat done without breaking sweat, and in the immediate aftermath of an already explosive and action packed 1,500- lot room and online auction programme seen at our virtual NYINC and Sir Rodney Sweetnam auctions.
Since then our popular Numismatic e-Circular has treated followers monthly to Triple-Unites, Laurels, Guineas and even modern Kilo gold coins, and truly everything in between. As the world mercifully re-emerges after Coronavirus, it is evident to all that the popularity and convenience of this modern and efficient online only auction format is here to stay, and as the prices are showing, it can also be the better option for vendors too. Further instalments of these exciting e-Circulars are outlined in our upcoming auction preview and calendar section. We very much look forward to tempting you with our sometimes eccentric, often esoteric but always exceptional range of numismatic items offered through this excitingly reliable programme with converts to the English silver series duly warned about our upcoming instalments in the Autumn and Winter!
Our last auction before the August lull
as an example We held two Medal Auctions in July, with an e-Sale of 700 Lots preceding the Room Auction of 500 Lots held at the end of the month. Both continued the trends of this booming area of the market, selling rates at over 99% with some remarkable records being set. Highlights included a hammer price of £19,000 for the ‘Slough Bomb Incident 1940’ George Cross sold in the e-Auction, before the front-cover Lot of the Room Auction, the superb CB, Indian Mutiny VC group of three awarded to General Blair, achieving £180,000 hammer. Another notable result was the important Bomber Command DSO & Bar, DFC and Bar group of six awarded to Wing Commander ‘Tubby’ Baker, one of just a handful of airmen to notch up 100 Bombing Missions during the Second World War. His Medals and archive were finally knocked down at £70,000 on an estimate of £28,000-32,000. The World Orders and Medals were again hotly contested, but the standout result was a very early Legion of Honour sash Badge in gold which was sold for £45,000. So strong prices are observed across the entire spectrum of collectables, not only at the top end, as is usually the case.
We have an action-packed autumn coming up, with both Stampex – of which we are again the main sponsor – and Coinex taking place in September, after which the Horace Hird Collection of Tudor, Stuart and Commonwealth Coins and Patterns sale takes place, followed by Parts III and IV of Tony Abramson’s Collection of Dark Age Coinage to bring this historic series to a close. For the philatelists among you September also sees the ‘Greca’ Collection of Southern African Postal History up for auction at the RPSL London, followed by Stamps and Postal History of Great Britain, with e-auctions of British West Indies: The Phil MacMurdie Collection of Bahamas & the Pearce Collection of Grenada and The Philip Hoare New Zealand 1935 Pictorials Collection. October brings the unrivalled Alan Holyoake Grand Prix Collection of British and International Registered Mail, a philatelic treat of both quality and importance.
We could do with more beauty in our world …
And Spink will try again to play its part. Indeed from 20th September until 31st October Spink will be holding an art exhibition at 69 Southampton row where works of renowned artist Ann Carrington will be available for sale. Ann Carrington’s stamp- and coin-themed work makes this exhibition a perfect match with Spink as evidenced by her amazing artwork, inspired by Numismatics, on the cover of this magazine. The huge stamp works and the large coin-encrusted sculptures are Ann’s flashback to her childhood and her fathers’ collecting of both. She has been commissioned by Elton John and Sir Paul Smith among others, but perhaps her most famous work, a Royal Jubilee Banner in 2012, was commissioned to hang from the Royal Barge, The Spirit of Chartwell, for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Over half a million buttons were used in its construction and over 2.5 billion watched the barge on its journey down the Thames. I invite you to come and see this wonderful and refreshing exhibition to get your creative juices flowing, and maybe buy the piece of art your collectables room at home or in the office has been waiting for for years. And after reading this, you might even be convinced to sell some old duplicates from your collection to fund your purchase.
Wishing you all the best