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Background info on Baldwin's Auction # 65


aleksandr
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Does anybody have any information on the Nobleman's Collection that was recently auctioned off? Any information on the collector would be much appreciated.

 

This "collection" was put together by a few Russian dealers specifically for this auction.

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Perhaps by dealers that vainly fashion themselves "noblemen" :ninja:

"new" noblemen ;)

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Really? If true, this is funny and clever, but isn't it also slightly scandalous? Do you guys think anyone paid more for coins because of the "noble" provenance?

 

I attended the auction and I did not notice anyone fighting for those coins because they had "noble" provenance.

Goodman coins at St. James, on the other hand, certainly brought premium...

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nobleman?

who do you think collected coins in the old day, peasants? serfs?

 

:ninja:

 

Had you said that about a year ago I would have agreed with this sentiment, but... a few months ago I started reading a Russian book (and never finished because it was so boring). I don't remember the name of the book or the author, but the story in the book started just before the revolution in some small town not far away from some minor provincial city. The book had a passage about a girl who was working as a cook's assistant or a maid or something like that in the house of a local doctor. That girl collected stamps. I know, stamps were not coins, and she was not a peasant, but still, the point is, you didn't have to be a nobleman to be a collector.

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Very interesting post, IMHO. Thanks for the information. Another few questions: Is it really that easy to export Russian coins from Russia? Is it simply a matter of a bribe? You'd think that if the Russian government really cares about repatriation of historical objects, that no bribe, or agreement among individuals, would be secure. Did this sale correspond with the permanent emmigration of a dealer or collector? Who is buying the best material nowadays? This post surprised me, because it shattered this image I had in my head of billionaire Russian oligarchs in Russia bidding against each other and repatriating national treasures. Is this true except that the bidders now live in London, instead of Moscow?

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Very interesting post, IMHO. Thanks for the information. Another few questions: Is it really that easy to export Russian coins from Russia? Is it simply a matter of a bribe? You'd think that if the Russian government really cares about repatriation of historical objects, that no bribe, or agreement among individuals, would be secure. Did this sale correspond with the permanent emmigration of a dealer or collector? Who is buying the best material nowadays? This post surprised me, because it shattered this image I had in my head of billionaire Russian oligarchs in Russia bidding against each other and repatriating national treasures. Is this true except that the bidders now live in London, instead of Moscow?

 

All good questions, but I am not sure if anyone will try to answer them.

I will just say that 80% (or more) of the coins were bought by Russians and went back to Russia.

Western auctions bring good prices and the coins really sell (most of the time).

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All good questions, but I am not sure if anyone will try to answer them.

I will just say that 80% (or more) of the coins were bought by Russians and went back to Russia.

Western auctions bring good prices and the coins really sell (most of the time).

I'm a bit confused here.

 

It has been my understanding that much of the better stuff in Western auctions is purchased by Russian dealers who then resell the coins in Russia at a profit.

 

It is true that there are very wealthy Russians in London, so selling there is not too surprising. What does surprise me is the idea that good coins are leaving Russia for the West, only to return there again (although I can imagine a reason why that might happen).

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(although I can imagine a reason why that might happen).

 

I am also confused, but I have grown to be comfortable with mystery in my life. :ninja:

 

What reason can you imagine, Grivna? I guess I can imagine how Russia wouldn't be the ideal venue country to conduct a coin auction. Perhaps there are concerns about security, both for the auction house and for potential buyers. Maybe some of the bidders can't easily go in and out of Russia. Or perhaps there are issues with the government requiring some type of tribute. Even a slight increase in these items of overhead would drive an auction away.

 

What do y'all think?

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I am also confused, but I have grown to be comfortable with mystery in my life. :ninja:

 

What reason can you imagine, Grivna? I guess I can imagine how Russia wouldn't be the ideal venue country to conduct a coin auction. Perhaps there are concerns about security, both for the auction house and for potential buyers. Maybe some of the bidders can't easily go in and out of Russia. Or perhaps there are issues with the government requiring some type of tribute. Even a slight increase in these items of overhead would drive an auction away.

 

What do y'all think?

 

I think Western auctions are a better venue to sell coins and art because they are international, while Russian auction houses are not (when was the last time you saw a Russian auction house on sixbid?). As for Russian coin dealers, they know hot to take their coins out of the country--legally or otherwise, whereas, us, common folk, don't.

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I'm a bit confused here.

...

It is true that there are very wealthy Russians in London, so selling there is not too surprising. What does surprise me is the idea that good coins are leaving Russia for the West, only to return there again (although I can imagine a reason why that might happen).

 

There was not a single wealthy Russian from London in either of two auctions. I actually think Germany (Kunker and Gorny) is a better place to sell coins and to hold auctions, since there are always more people participating in their auctions live. If auctions are held at other countries, you will get the same 5-6 dealers participating (plus occasional collector, like me :ninja: ) and that's about it. As far as mail and phone bids - it does not really matter where the auction takes place, since bidder is bidding from home.

 

I am also confused, but I have grown to be comfortable with mystery in my life. ;)

Mystery is a good thing. ;)

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I think Western auctions are a better venue to sell coins and art because they are international, while Russian auction houses are not (when was the last time you saw a Russian auction house on sixbid?). As for Russian coin dealers, they know hot to take their coins out of the country--legally or otherwise, whereas, us, common folk, don't.

 

Interesting. What is it about Russian auctions that prevents them from being "international?" I assume it's the export prohibitions, but you'd think that if dealers are transporting millions of dollars of coins to London only to be sold to Russians and returned, that there could be some legislative fix in Russia to avoid this farce in the future. Perhaps this will trigger such a legislative fix, or perhaps it will trigger stricter enforcement. What do you think? I just wonder how this happens so openly, because if the Russian government really cares about repatriation of national treasures like some of those coins that sold, then a bribe agreement between some dealers and customs officials would still be risky, because someone higher up the food chain could swoop in and ignore those agreements, right?

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Interesting. What is it about Russian auctions that prevents them from being "international?" I assume it's the export prohibitions, but you'd think that if dealers are transporting millions of dollars of coins to London only to be sold to Russians and returned, that there could be some legislative fix in Russia to avoid this farce in the future. Perhaps this will trigger such a legislative fix, or perhaps it will trigger stricter enforcement. What do you think? I just wonder how this happens so openly, because if the Russian government really cares about repatriation of national treasures like some of those coins that sold, then a bribe agreement between some dealers and customs officials would still be risky, because someone higher up the food chain could swoop in and ignore those agreements, right?

 

 

A little disclaimer, I have no idea if that "Nobleman's" collection was really put together by dealers with coins exported from Russia, but if it was, here is a theory on how it can happen:

 

As far as I understand the Russian law that relates to export of antiques, you have to get permission from the Ministry of Culture (or some other ministry) to take your item out of the country. They have these lists there that show what is valuable and what is not, which is how they determine whether to allow you to export your item.

 

Now if you are an art/coin/stamp/whatever dealer you can afford to make that trip to the offices of whatever ministry and get those export licenses. Maybe this is where bribes come in, or maybe the ministry thinks that most coins are NOT cultural "treasures", a determination a customs official at the airport cannot make.

 

If you are a tourist who came to Russia and bought a coin, will you have the time to go to some Russian ministry and fill out forms in Russian and stand in liines? Probably not. Therefore, foreigners don't buy coins in Russia, and consequently, Russian auction houses are not international.

 

As for my earlier comment that Western auctions are better venues for selling Russian coins, think if it this way: you need as wide an audience to bid on your coins. Even if you are confident that some Russian oligarch wins all the coins, you still want some western collector to bid them up. In other words, for best prices you need the auctions to be international.

 

I don't want to get into a big discussion of the legislative process in Russia, but if they want to keep their laws so complicated, let them. it's entirely their business. We still get a chance to bid on their coins as evidence'd by this "Nobleman's" collection (assuming these coins did in fact just came from Russia), so we don't care. The only people who should care, are the Russian auction houses that are missing out on all those fees. They are the ones who should be lobbying for this "legislative fix", but I don't see Russian legislators initiating any fixes without at least some lobbying by Russian local businesses or some other vested interests.

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A little disclaimer, I have no idea if that "Nobleman's" collection was really put together by dealers with coins exported from Russia, but if it was, here is a theory on how it can happen:

 

As far as I understand the Russian law that relates to export of antiques, you have to get permission from the Ministry of Culture (or some other ministry) to take your item out of the country. They have these lists there that show what is valuable and what is not, which is how they determine whether to allow you to export your item.

 

Now if you are an art/coin/stamp/whatever dealer you can afford to make that trip to the offices of whatever ministry and get those export licenses. Maybe this is where bribes come in, or maybe the ministry thinks that most coins are NOT cultural "treasures", a determination a customs official at the airport cannot make.

 

If you are a tourist who came to Russia and bought a coin, will you have the time to go to some Russian ministry and fill out forms in Russian and stand in liines? Probably not. Therefore, foreigners don't buy coins in Russia, and consequently, Russian auction houses are not international.

 

As for my earlier comment that Western auctions are better venues for selling Russian coins, think if it this way: you need as wide an audience to bid on your coins. Even if you are confident that some Russian oligarch wins all the coins, you still want some western collector to bid them up. In other words, for best prices you need the auctions to be international.

 

I don't want to get into a big discussion of the legislative process in Russia, but if they want to keep their laws so complicated, let them. it's entirely their business. We still get a chance to bid on their coins as evidence'd by this "Nobleman's" collection (assuming these coins did in fact just came from Russia), so we don't care. The only people who should care, are the Russian auction houses that are missing out on all those fees. They are the ones who should be lobbying for this "legislative fix", but I don't see Russian legislators initiating any fixes without at least some lobbying by Russian local businesses or some other vested interests.

 

An expert from the ministry of Culture can not give any permission for any item older than 50 years. You can maybe bribe one, but I think that would be useless. As I understand the customs officers can also call an expert in case things look suspicious.

 

At any rate, Russian laws are complex, prohibitive, and designed not to make any sense. All that leads to ample incentive for bribery, both on the part of officials and regular citizens who want to simplify and expedite matters.

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An expert from the ministry of Culture can not give any permission for any item older than 50 years. You can maybe bribe one, but I think that would be useless. As I understand the customs officers can also call an expert in case things look suspicious.

 

At any rate, Russian laws are complex, prohibitive, and designed not to make any sense. All that leads to ample incentive for bribery, both on the part of officials and regular citizens who want to simplify and expedite matters.

I know nothing about this other than what I have heard here, so my thought is simply rank speculation. But I wondered if there might be some tax advantage for Russian dealers to do business this way. Kind of like how some British rock bands such as the Rolling Stones moved to France (or other countries) for tax reasons?

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I know nothing about this other than what I have heard here, so my thought is simply rank speculation. But I wondered if there might be some tax advantage for Russian dealers to do business this way. Kind of like how some British rock bands such as the Rolling Stones moved to France (or other countries) for tax reasons?

It is a fact that coins are being exported from Russia to western auctions -

this very coin has featured for many years in the MONETY i MEDALI catalog http://www.numismat.ru/catalog.shtml?year=1796.

It is still showing there.

It was however auctioned as #2580 at Künker Auktion 150 March 2009 at EURO 15.000. I was there and held it in hand.

BTW I did not like the bubbles on the date side :ninja: but coin was out of my budget anyway. Sigi

1796261.th.jpg

1796262.th.jpg

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It is a fact that coins are being exported from Russia to western auctions -

this very coin has featured for many years in the MONETY i MEDALI catalog http://www.numismat.ru/catalog.shtml?year=1796.

It is still showing there.

It was however auctioned as #2580 at Künker Auktion 150 March 2009 at EURO 15.000. I was there and held it in hand.

BTW I did not like the bubbles on the date side :ninja: but coin was out of my budget anyway. Sigi

1796261.th.jpg

1796262.th.jpg

Thank you for this most interesting post, Sigi.

 

I have thought that Russia might act as a giant black hole for the coins, with many going in but virtually nothing coming back out. How nice to see that this might not be the case at all.

 

I wonder if the coin returned to Russia after the Künker sale?

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Hmmm, bubbles, eh, Sigi? My gut tells me that authentic cipher series coins (originals or novodels) don't look like that, and then looking at the bubbles... It looks questionable to me, but then again, what do I know? Someone must have thought it was the real deal. Or perhaps this reveals something about the buyers nowadays. Anyone else have an opinion on this coin?

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