Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hadrien Rambach library auction

The catalog for the auction of the Numismatic Library of Hadrien Rambach is now online. 255 lots of books. There are also 48 lots of ancient coins.

The e-Sylum mentioned this last week, but the catalog wasn't available then. Hadrien Rambach is a coin specialist at Spink & Son.

The estimates seem low. Lot 572, Babelon's Inventaire sommaire de la colleciton Waddington (1898, 4 volumes), his Rec. Gen. (1904), and his son's Catalogue de la collection de Luynes (1924-1932), is estimated at only 100 euros.

Whoever made the catalog has copying text to the clipboard disabled, which is profoundly irritating.

A correspondent recently asked why auctioneers make low estimates. He mention the usual reasons (unfamiliarity with the market, desire to inspire new bidders) and the usual problem (bad estimates send a false signal to collectors who then don't research what the usual price is). For books I would add the irritation of storing and returning unsold lots. If a coin doesn't make reserve it can go back into the safe. Who has space for a book that doesn't sell?

Princeton computer science professor and ancient coin collector Kenneth Steiglitz wrote a book, Snipers, Shills, and Sharks: eBay and Human Behavior which is apparently on the psychology of auctions including ancient coin auctions on eBay. Has anyone read it? Perhaps it includes the latest research on how buyers and sellers make decisions.

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