Could the secret to the sweet success experienced by Swiss International Coin Auction (Sincona AG), as it has sold three parts of a landmark collection of Russian coins, lie in the chocolate replicas of highlights in its auctions?
What other auction house creates candy calling cards of its best pieces?
Sincona has had confectionery coins, showing obverse designs from a few highlights of its Russian coin auctions, distributed at coin shows in Moscow and during the auction.
The firm’s Russian numismatic expert, Vadim Shiryaev, knows better than to credit success to the confectionery coins. Instead, he highlights the strength of the collection, and the firm’s efforts to publicize the auctions months in advance.
“After one auction we begin to advertise the coins in the next auction,” he said. “Collectors of serious coins do not buy anything else during the year because they know what will be in our next auction. It will be clear from March what they’ll [budget] for the whole year.”
Two big highlights
The strategy seems to work for the four-year-old company, as two highlights in the firm’s latest installment of the collection each realized 1,495,000 Swiss francs ($1,561,110 in U.S. funds) on Oct. 13, including the 15 percent buyer’s fee.
The top lots were an 1886 silver ruble pattern and an 1807 ruble pattern, both struck at the St. Petersburg Mint. The 1807 pattern in the auction is one of two examples known, with the piece in the sale bearing a smooth edge and the other piece, housed in the Hermitage, bearing a lettered edge. (Earlier coverage of the 1886 pattern and other highlights appears in the October monthly edition of Coin World and online at www.coinworld.com.)
Two different collectors purchased the two patterns mentioned, which were offered along with many other highlights. The latest installment realized an estimated 12,650,000 Swiss francs ($13,209,400 U.S.), with the buyer’s fee added.
Combined, all three parts have realized the equivalent of an estimated $38.7 million U.S., making the auction one of the most (if not the most) successful for a collection of non-U.S. material, of all time, with one more auction scheduled.