Numismatic “Applause”

If you ever attended a live public auction then you will understand the excitement that is in the room, the bidding fever, the competition between two or more buyers and the audience response when the unusual occurs. This can be a new record price, the anticipation of an upcoming lot, the calling out of bids to try to discourage opposition, and the loud chatter that builds along with the excitement. It becomes a show with no script and the actors are the auctioneer and the bidders, the people sitting beside you, in front or back of you and those standing in a corner so not to be observed.


Applause in the auction room or for an auction sale is not always the norm, but when it does happen, it can be for a variety of reasons. As an auctioneer I have experienced applause when:

1) A new record price has been established.

2) The auction sale is so exciting that the crowd applauds.

3) The crowd attending acknowledges outstanding results.

4) As an acknowledgement of and in appreciation for a job well done.

However, the greatest form of applause that I have received is not the physical applause that happens in the auction room, but it is the many letters, emails, and phone calls we receive after a sale, commending us on our auctions.


Our recent sale of the Thos. K. Law Collection prompted many such responses. I would like to quote from two letters that were received shortly after the sale.


Shortly after the Thos. K. Law Sale of English Gold coins was sold, I received the following letter from the consignor.


“Dear Harvey

"Thank you for the update. We are thrilled with the response to the sale of the coins and we know we could not have done as well without you. I certainly hope our friendship will continue because I have enjoyed it immensely.

“If I can ever do anything for you please allow me to be of help in any way I can. I look forward to receiving the hard cover catalogs for the family. They are educational and beautiful. If you have extra some close friends would like one. Many thanks for all you have done "

A second letter came from a very old and dear client and close numismatic friend. I have had the pleasure of serving this collector for some 50 years.

"Dear Harvey

“Thank you for your recent e-mail.  It is always good to receive good news from old friends. As for myself I have known both the better and lesser good days. My husband always used to say:  ‘I am still on the good side of the grass.’

“Since we last communicated I received the various auction catalogs.  I agree with you that the presentation of the Law Collection was outstanding, and so were the prices realized. The number of rarities and unique pieces was amazing and of course the preservation was far above average. Sincere congratulations to you and to Larry for a most beautiful and scientific auction catalog.

“Warm regards from one of your special clients and warm friend "

The way I was trained in numismatics and the way the Stack’s Bowers team functions today accounts for the many hundreds of sales we have conducted and the great collections that have passed through our hands. Over the decades we have served the numismatic community — from 1935 to today — we have earned our share of applause. It is my great hope that we will move forward with this outstanding record of service to numismatics, and continue to earn applause in whatever form it takes.

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