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Posted by Victor England on 4 November 2011

Our thanks to Dr. C. W. for bringing this to our attention.

Saxon Television

Dear Sir,

It has come to our notice that you are in possession of a Saxon Television, set serial number 91008, built between 710 and 765 AD. Unfortunately, we do not have any record of you purchasing a license for this TV set. I am sure this an oversight on your part.

Inspection of the set on your website suggests that it is an early model (type 70 to be precise) and receives only black and white transmission. The current license fee for a black and white TV set in the UK and the Crown Dependencies is 49 pounds per year. Since the fee has not been paid since 765 AD, you have accrued arrears amounting to 61,054 pounds. (Please note that as a sign of good will we have overlooked the 50 years from 710 to 765 AD, and decided that the payment of a penalty will not be required.) To find out about payment methods please go to A payment plan can be arranged. ,

Posted by Victor England on 1 March 2011

Every month I receive a very large number of emails. Earlier in February I received an email from a customer who I have known for years. We have sold him the odd piece over the years, but mostly we have gone head-to-head in auctions over exceptional pieces. As a collector he usually outbids us. His email follows and while it relates to the collecting of British coins, much of it applies to collecting at the top end of any market.

Reprinted with permission.

Coin Collecting as a Work of Art

From The Petition Crown

I consider a coin of the finest quality to be a work of art. The dies for coinage were created by the country’s finest artist to show the monarch at his best, often to mark a specific event. A coin that has survived the centuries is like an ancient artifact and is no less important, and is valued for its beauty, quality and rarity. Modern records show that great collections were already being formed in the 17th century and point to the timelessness of the beauty and appeal of the best work of the engravers. The most select coins have always demanded a premium price. When an auctioneer tries to establish an estimate, it is just that, as an estimate is only based on historic information and the auctioneer's own sense of the market, albeit that at present whatever is thought is clearly wrong.

Those who depend only on history for “comparables” will invariably miss out on those rare occasions when exceptional material comes up for sale.

Fine art is different from strict financial investments. We saw recently the fault that exists in “financial tools” that were purported to be worth specific amounts, but we woke up one day and found the value no longer existed.

On Dec 2nd 2010 a Testoon a portrait coin of Mary, Queen of Scotland [see on The Petition Crown] caught the eye of many collectors, it's last recoded sale was for 16 gbp in 1936, and it is a magnificent piece. It is interesting that at the end there were three people who wanted the coin for different reasons: one was a collector of ancient coins who, in fact, did not collect ladies but fell in love with the quality of this lady, another who collected because of the history of this Queen of Scotland, and a third who buys coins as “Works of Art”.

This Testoon, when you hold it in the hand, has a “presence” that ties it directly to 1562, and has a portrait that could be from the National Portrait Gallery. This was not just a coin in a recent London sale but a part of British heritage. It is also a coin that has a “wow” factor, an “eye appeal” that is immediately arresting and almost breathtaking. Such an exceptional portrait coin reflecting the influence of the high Renaissance is rare in any condition, and is exceptionally rare in such high relief and outstanding quality.

When you hold the piece, minted in 1562, and dream about to whom such a piece of Mary, the Catholic Queen of Scots could have belonged, or of the pouch it would have travelled in, or in whose hands it would have been 449 years ago, of of those last days in Fotheringhay Castle where the scene was set for Queen Mary to be executed. The morning of Mary's execution was a dismal one and as you dream you can see the people tether their horses to witness a grotesque killing on the scaffold where it took three attempts by the executioner to sever the head. (IT TOOK EIGHT CHOPS TO DO MONMOUTH)

What will all this mean in the future? To the hobby of Numismatics – the market will change. Enter a new breed of collector and dealer who have a background in art, and who consider coins as part of the fine art market, the ART OF COINS as part of art appreciation – dealers that before would minimize their need to invest in their stock will start investing so they can make a credible offering to the collector as the general art world does.

The recent auctions show new collectors have started entering the market worldwide; this new generation of collectors does not have the “hang-ups” of the old time collector. Price is not measured by yearly increases or decreases; it reverts back 100+ years were individual pieces of quality fetched amazing premiums. Others call him an investor, an opportunist. Call him what you will, he is the next generation of collector. He (or, increasingly, she) sees a coin, falls in love with it and wishes to own it. The artistic quality is the driving factor for the coin as a “work of art”. Those with the perception to recognize that “price” does not guarantee “quality” will also understand that “quality” establishes its own price. All that I write should not disturb the existing market but bring another layer of collectors to our hobby.

A few weeks ago one ancient coin of beauty was expected to bring 3’000 euro, or maybe even 6’000 in an extreme case. Well, it was an extreme case and it sold with commission for 32’000 euro, but it was truly a work of art and in superb condition. Quite simply, will the market develop at such a speed that it will encourage those who do not like the new dynamics to sell at prices they did not dream of getting?

It makes little difference if parts of the market dip, as the renaissance type coins find new levels, what is important is the change that has started and it is attracting a new younger breed of collectors who will continue our ancient hobby into the future. I feel lucky that I have two boys who enjoy the hobby, and both have different areas that interest them.

The auction rooms will, for a little more time, host a lot of bemused and confused faces, of dealers and collectors alike who watch as the new generation begin to feel their feet. Time to start now.



The Petition Crown

Posted by Victor England on the 2nd December 2010.

Back in May of 2010, we launched a fresh approach to closing our mailbid sales - the electronic close on the internet. Appropriately we labeled them with An Internet & Mailbid Close. Little did we understand what was about to happen. Two chaotic "crashes" on the server leading up to the close of CNG 84, a couple of quick programming patches and a series of post sale "stress tests" revealed the inevitable.

The reality was that we were operating on not only outdated, but in technology terms, antique servers and with versions of software that were three generations old. It seemed like it was only yesterday that we had launched this site.

We have not attempted to radically change or introduce many new features, just bring them up to current standards.

Enjoy, and as you find the inevitable bug we missed, please email us:

Posted by Victor England on the 19th April, 2010.

Volcanic activity seems like as good a reason to start these posts as any. Over the last few years we have discussed ideas on personalizing CNG, hence From the Inside:.. From time to time, we will post comments.

Fortunately, only one of our staff is trapped in the current travel debacle resulting from the shutdown of air traffic in Europe. A.J. is trapped in Paris for the next week (rough life - Eric in an email this morning to AJ on his situation used a term I have rarely heard: "as you are skiving in Paris and no doubt are desperately wondering how you will fill your days, if you do have a chance to think through how:).

Contingency planning regarding the close of CNG 84

The close of CNG 84 is still a few weeks away, but the current situation makes one realize how dependant we are on the airlines for certain things. By no means should bids be submitted by mail to or from Europe for CNG 84, as they may not arrive. European customers who have already sent bids by mail should wait a suitable time and then check to see if the bids have arrived, or they should fax or email the bids with a note that they have also been sent by post. It is best to place bids directly on the site.

If disruptions in air travel continue past the close of the sale, we will hold up the mailing of successful lots to affected winning bidders until such time as the backlog of international mail has cleared.