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The Jan. 5, 2012 sale of the Prospero Collection of ancient Greek coins resulted in a total of $25 million (including a 17 percent buyer’s premium) earned from 642 lots.
The magical worlds of Greek history and mythology depicted in the coins from this collection certainly captured the imagination of the collectors, dealers and investors bidding in the room and online via the services of The-saleroom.com. Around 200 bidders were in attendance at the Baldwin’s Auction, held in the Vanderbilt suite at the Waldorf Astoria hotel (a fitting venue for the most significant auction of ancient Greek in the last 20 years) with an additional 156 registered to bid online. Anticipation was building prior to the auction and an electrifying buzz filled the air when the auctioneer opened the first lot at $450 and was immediately bid up to $1,700. Excitement grew as lots proceeded to sell for three, four, five times their pre-sale estimates, it became clear that the prices achieved in this landmark auction would be the new benchmarks for high quality Greek coins.
A good stalwart group of international collectors with an eye for the highest quality Greek coins took the bidding to new levels never seen before in this market. Bidding from start to finish was extremely strong
Lot 213, the catalogue cover coin, broke all previous world records for an ancient Greek coin, selling for a phenomenal $3.2 million (hammer). This beautiful example of a Gold Stater from Pantikapaion depicts the head of a satyr, a character widely used in Greek mythology. The coin is one of the most spectacular numismatic objects to have survived from the classical world and is one of the greatest and admired of all the ancient Greek coins. This miniature work of art is an incredibly rare artistic masterpiece and it was no surprise when bidding soared past the pre-sale estimate of $650,000.
Lots were selling to many different bidders from around the world, with a noticeable presence from European and America dealers and collectors. The internet too played an important role in the success of the auction with a total of $1.4 million selling to bidders online from around the globe. The most expensive single coin sold online went under the hammer at $150,000 and the internet was responsible for a great deal of underbidding throughout the sale.
Paul Hill, Baldwin’s ancient coin specialist and cataloguer for the Prospero Collection, commented directly after the auction: ‘The sale of the Prospero collection has far exceeded our expectations. It has truly been a once in a generation auction and one that will go down in numismatic history. It was an honour and a privilege to catalogue this collection and the results achieved are testament to the dedicated team at Baldwn’s.’
The coins in this auction broke records across the board but the most noteworthy sales included lot 149, a Silver Tetradrachm of Naxos, a wonderful example of one of the greatest of all fifth century Greek coins, which sold for $850,000 against its pre-sale estimate of $125,000 and lot 411, an outstanding Stater of Phaistos with an exceptional provenance, which achieved a staggering $650,000 against the pre-sale estimate of $40,000.
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