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Iraq Coinage a Hot Area for Stephen Album Online Auction

By Thomas Michael

In January 2019, the Stephen Album Rare Coin group began a new line of Internet-Only Auctions. They put them up online early, so people have several weeks to look over the lots, set up their accounts for bidding and even lay down some opening bids before the live sale day. Once the live sale begins, I have found it a breeze to follow along and hop in to bid at any point. It’s one of the simplest and most efficient online auction systems I’ve ever had the pleasure to use.

It’s been great fun to peruse these sales and check out all the interesting coins, tokens and medals offered at a more moderate price point for active collectors. I’ve often been surprised at the eclectic selections and impressive quality of these offerings and I’d really encourage our readers to jump in and have some fun bidding in these sales.

The fifth in their series of online auctions closed on Nov. 4. Here is a quick overview of the highlights from my perspective, along with their results.

Online sale No. 5 offered three nice groupings of material well worth noting for the specialist. There were 37 lots of modern Iraq coinage both in individual high-grade coin lots and small multi-coin lots at lower grades. It’s a hot area at the moment and SARC seems to have connections enough to be bringing up new Iraqi coins in each auction, at least for the time being. If you have ever considered building a collection of this limited coinage country, SARC offers you a great place to begin. Estimates were dead on for most of this group, with some selling just below or above the range, but mostly staying true to SARC’s predictions. For those who did not get to bid, but have an interest, there were a few lots that did not sell and might be available for post-auction purchase.

The young Faisal II is featured on this 1943 AH1362 copper 4 Fils graded MS64 by PCGS. This beautiful example realized just over its top-end estimate selling for about $310.

The same is true for Nepal, for which this sale has 36 lots of great condition pieces, including many varieties, which can be difficult to determine. All but one of these Nepal lots sold within their estimate range, with just a couple going slightly below and several key pieces being driven well above their estimate by seasoned specialists. The high quality of SARC’s photography and their excellent and accurate cataloging makes bidding in their sales a true pleasure, as you will never have a doubt regarding their descriptions, even in difficult areas such as Nepal or Tibet.

This Kingdom of Patan Mohar from 1641 realized over four times its estimate, selling for about $240. Most of the Nepal coins in this sale from the Kingdom of Patan brought very good prices.

Speaking of Tibet, this sale also offers something I have never seen before. Long center cuts of the Tibetan trade coinage Rupees of the Y#3 types. While the Standard Catalog of World Coins has noted cut coinage of one-half and one-quarter pieces of these Rupees, I had never heard of strips being cut. Small change was a problem in this time, so other shapes may have been cut and circulated; however, we have no record of this. The auction notes that these pieces were acquired in 1925 by a missionary, which would be possible, as the practice of cutting these Rupees was not even discouraged until 1934. Consider these study pieces for the Tibet specialist and well worth the reasonable $100 and $77 they sold for, including the juice.

A cut strip of Tibet Rupee presumably used for small change during a shortage of copper coinage in the region. While the Y#3 type Rupees are known to have been cut in one-half and one-quarter pieces, these strips are something unusual. I hope the new owner has time to study and research these pieces.

Of course, given the SARC groups’ expertise, there were large selections of Indian coinage from many eras and political divisions. For the specialist, it was a perfect gathering to find specific mints in various regions and to upgrade types you may have acquired in group lots back in the days when this was possible. For my part, I enjoyed seeing the Mysore Elephant coppers in this sale. There are eight of them in differing styles, but all of nice quality strikes. Always reasonably priced, several of the ones from Auction No. 5 did not sell and should still be available through SARC.

A sharp clean strike gives this Mysore copper paisa elephant coin real appeal. Sold for less than $55, right at its estimate, it is both a bargain and a treasure for its new owner.

The Islamic section held several of the Civic coppers, many with the animal depictions in their designs, of which I’ve always been most fond. Others must be of the same mind, as all of the Animal style Civic Coppers in Auction No. 5 sold well over their estimates. Each was a nice clean example, which surely helped, but I would guess that on the whole, these types are just not too common anymore and are going up in value as collector demand increases.

Left: From 1696 a great Civil Copper with a striking Crane figure in a square cut planchet. The best bargain in this bidder contested Civic Copper animal type group, the Crane sold for about 60% over its estimate. Right: Others went for much more, like this Donkey from Gilan Mint, which sold for $357, over six times its estimate.

To view, register and bid in future auctions from Stephen Album Rare Coins pop over to www.sarc.auction. Check out their main home page at db.stevealbum.com

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