NGSA 18 Established a New Price Level for Coins from Geneva
Top-class numismatics, that is what we are used to from Numismatica Genevensis. And top-class numismatics was the collection of Geneva coins auctioned off on 15 November 2022. It was nothing less than the most comprehensive ensemble of coins from Geneva ever offered at auction. And as is common with genuine special collections, there were many specimens among the offer that were extremely rare but not of perfect quality. The fact that these coins too are highly coveted on the market provided that their rarity is accurately described, is shown by the results of this sale of Numismatica Genevensis, the auction house for discerning special collectors.
What this means is probably best illustrated by lot No. 2003, a piece that anyone who is not a collector of Geneva coins would probably have rather expected to find in a box of bargain coins than at a premium auction sale. However, Numismatica Genevensis’ catalogue points out how rare this piece is and highlights its crucial numismatic importance. For it is much more than a unique piece – it is the only surviving testimony to an archival note that tells us that the Council of the City of Geneva had small coins minted as early as on 3 February 1550 because the city was in urgent need of them. Therefore, this small coin takes us right back to the centre of the Reformation, where Calvin’s personality attracted numerous religious refugees from other parts of Europe.
The tiny, rather shabby coin had already been estimated at CHF 1,000. The hammer fell at CHF 15,000 – which is certainly not too much for a key specimen that is a unique numismatic testimony to the role Geneva played during the Reformation.
An exception? Certainly not! Auction 18 of Numismatica Genevensis demonstrated the true value of rare pieces. An inconspicuous 1551 quart, whose description in the auction catalogue mentioned that it was missing from Demole’s standard work on Geneva coins, climbed from an estimate of 80 Swiss francs to a hammer price of 1,000 Swiss francs, highlighting how important a scholarly catalogue is when it comes to the sale of special collections. This is the only way to guarantee that a rarity actually realises its true potential in terms of the hammer price.
We could show many more such examples: coins regarding which only experts know about their central numismatic importance and incredible rarity. Take a look at the results of this auction and see for yourself how many examples there are for this phenomenon.
Highlights of the Collection of Geneva Coins
The fact that the highlights of the collection also realised high prices probably does not need to be mentioned. It should be noted, however, that anyone who checks CoinArchive to see what are currently the ten most expensive Geneva coins will notice that since 15 November, seven out of the ten first ranks are occupied by coins from Numismatica Genevensis’ Auction 18. We cannot list them all here, which is why we limit this review to the five most expensive coins, listing them from less to most expensive.
17 Hammer Prices in the 6-Digit Range, One in the 7-Digit Range
While we already had a hard time choosing which of the many remarkable pieces to present in the preview, this task is even more difficult regarding the review. For in both auctions 16 and 17, a total of 17 lots in the 6-digit-range were realized, as well as one in the 7-digit range. We have to limit ourselves and only mention the two top pieces from the section of ancient coins. This is followed by the most expensive Swiss coin of the sale and the most expensive lot of the entire auction.
There are two new records for the most expensive decadrachms from the city of Syracuse ever sold – according to CoinArchives: the decadrachms of Kimon offered by Numismatica Genevensis. They combine all the characteristics that currently make an ancient coin desirable: they are works of art of perfect quality. Numismatica Genevensis described these pieces as the most beautiful known specimens of this extraordinary issue. In addition, both pieces have a provenance that can be traced far back. They were already documented in Germany in 1940, 1941 resp. The bidders honoured this with unusually high bids. 750,000 Swiss francs was the hammer price for lot No. 13, 700,000 Swiss francs for lot No. 14 – making the coins the two most expensive Syracusan decadrachms, and the third and fifth most expensive decadrachms ever.
The coveted multiple issue of 20 ducats of 1741 from Basel, a perfect showpiece on a Proof blank of exceptional beauty, was sold at CHF 700,000.
The most expensive lot of the sale was a complete collection of the 56 dinars minted under the Umayyad caliphs. From the first dinar of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan after his coinage reform of 77 AH (= 696 CE) up to the last dinar of Marwan II, the last Caliph of Damascus from 132 AH (= 750 CE), this collection contained one dinar for every year in which they were minted. Especially the first dinar from 77 is considered one of the most coveted coins of Islamic numismatics. It is very rare and marks the beginning of Islamic coinage, which was to dominate long-distance trade for centuries.
All results can also be found in the online catalog.
After the auction is before the auction. If you want to consign outstanding collections or exquisite coins at Numismatica Genevensis, contact the specialists. For more information visit the NGSA Website.