We received several reader’s letters in response to Ursula Kampmann’s last editorial, including from the ANA. The discussion also seems to initiate a new development that will be beneficial to institutions in the future. We have compiled the feedback of our readers for you. And to make sure you know what the letters to the editor deal with, we start with the editorial.
The editor reserves the right to publish and shorten letters without altering their meaning, as well as to translate the letters into German or English. The responses do not necessarily reflect the opinion of CoinsWeekly.
Thursday, June 3, 2021
Dear Coin Enthusiasts all over the World,
deaccessioning is the buzzword for a situation in which an institution generates funds that are needed for covering running costs or new acquisitions by means of selling objects that are neither needed for the exhibition nor for the museum’s research projects.
Whereas deaccessioning was a widespread phenomenon prior to the Second World War, “flogging off” items from museums has become frowned upon since the 1970s. Overshadowed by the debate on cultural property issues and encouraged by generous funding, some museum depots became a sort of black holes devouring so many items that a part of it could never be published or exhibited due to the fact that there is never enough money to fulfill all needs of a museum.
Covid changed that. The slump in visitors and revenue resulted in gigantic holes in the budgets of these institutions that have to be filled somehow. Thus, many directors remember the good old days when unneeded objects were sold for this purpose. According to their press release, the ANA has also decided to do that.
You may think whatever you want about deaccessioning, but one thing makes me wonder: The ANA does not sell their duplicates via the coin trade but via eBay. It leaves a strange aftertaste that all the dealers who have been supporting the ANA for decades with their donations don’t make any money from the sale, instead, the revenue goes to an internet giant that has never shown any support of numismatics. Are the auction fees of coin dealers not competitive with eBay? Or did the ANA omit searching for a solution to involve those dealers who are willing to reinvest part of the profit in the ANA?
Yours Ursula Kampmann
Responses and Reactions on the Editorial and the Article of That Issue
American Numismatic Association Response to Ursula Kampmann June 3 Editorial
In response to Ursula Kampmann’s CoinsWeekly News editorial on June 3 about the American Numismatic Association’s recently launched Money Museum deaccession auctions, it should be stressed that the decision to go with eBay was not taken lightly by the ANA, nor was it to avoid working with auction houses or dealers. As has been stated in our official announcement, the decision was made because it is the best decision for the ANA and its membership.
The items being deaccessioned are predominantly low-value, duplicate objects (the vast majority have a retail value under $20) that have been accumulating through donations from collectors and dealers for five decades. No auction house is interested in this material.
After evaluating several different potential avenues for auctioning this material, it was determined that eBay was by far the most cost-effective, equitable and efficient method to sell the objects – especially as we are able to do so as a nonprofit business – nearly eliminating the normal costs associated with eBay sales. The current format allows anyone to bid on the deaccessioned lots, including dealers should they be so inclined. All proceeds will go towards furthering the educational mission of the Money Museum.
The American Numismatic Society likely came to this same conclusion last year with their decision to use eBay to sell their duplicate items.
Curator and Director
American Numismatic Association Money Museum
Ulf Künker, CEO of the International online auction platform Sixbid is contemplating on how Sixbid could support museums and other institutions seeking to sell objects of their collections without a fee. Künker: “As a member of the numismatic community, I am intent on ensuring that the profits from the process of deaccessioning stay with said institutions. We also want to enable these institutions to make the biggest profit possible without involving big tech companies from outside the industry. We are currently looking in to the technical side of things and will hopefully be able to offer a solution that connects non profit institutions directly with the buyer. With roughly 10,000 daily visitors to our website, we offer a truly attractive platform that reaches a large group of very willing potential buyers.”
More Reactions by E-mail
I read your editorial piece today and in some ways could not disagree with you more.
First is the aspect of deaccessioning. Too many museums around the world have objects in their collection that have never been, nor will ever be displayed. It could be a duplicate of an object in better condition or an object that just not merit being displayed according to the staff of the museum. In either case, it is far better to sell if off to someone that will cherish it or another institution that will display it. I believe that an object, or coin, or banknote that is stored away and not seen or used in research to have little to no value. Only those items that are seen and appreciated have value.
Second, you criticize the ANA for using eBay as compared to dealers. As there are many, many dealers as members of ANA, how would you ever choose? And any choice made, will upset or anger others. Besides the press release says the items will be of lower value. Almost all the dealers I know don’t want to bother will low value items. The ANA is correct that eBay will allow the greatest number of people the chance to acquire something. And I will be very interested to see how they make it so members get some form of discount as I don’t have any idea how that would be done.
Please note that I am not a member of the ANA.
Timothy V. Welo
On the Grün Auction Sale Review
your criticism of the Jaeger catalogue is absolutely right and justified. I was one of the highest bidders at Grün but ended up “rather” empty-handed.
I may have been ahead of my time and embraced the concept of top quality much earlier. In the last year, the items on my website sold like hot cakes!
I’m thinking of shutting it all down and putting it back up later at twice the price. It might sound like a crackpot idea – but what is the true value of top quality?
Kind regards from Rodgau!