Coins, a Rising Market

A cased George VI gold four-coin specimen set, 1937, comprising a five pounds, two pounds, a sovereign and a half-sovereign
A cased George VI gold four-coin specimen set, 1937, comprising a five pounds, two pounds, a sovereign and a half-sovereign

The field of coin collecting brings together social, political and economic history with art and culture. Coins have been collected since Roman times and provide a tangible link to our past, present and future.

Coins have often been crafted by the finest engravers and sculptors of their time and are frequently works of art in their own right.

A William IV Crown, 1831, 'W.W.' on truncation of bust
A William IV Crown, 1831, ‘W.W.’ on truncation of bust

Whilst rarity is important to the value of any particular coin it is condition which is of overriding significance in establishing values. There is an enormous disparity between the price of a worn example of a coin compared to one in extremely fine or uncirculated condition. This is apparent in the prices realised by the exceptional George VI gold four-coin specimen set from 1937 and the William IV Crown from 1831 which made £8500 and £6000 respectively at Toovey’s specialist coin sales.

A Saxon penny from the Steyning mint, struck in the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066)
A Saxon penny from the Steyning mint, struck in the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066)

Sharper coins were produced by the process of milling coins with dies mounted onto a screw press. This can be seen by comparing the handmade Charles I gold Unite with the later coins illustrated. The Unite was a 17th century gold coin worth twenty shillings or one pound but this example sold recently at auction for £1600. The difficulties of manufacturing blanks to a uniform weight ensured that coins continued to be made by hand until the Restoration in 1660. Charles II brought the Roettiers brothers with their improved screw press from Holland to London. The first English coins made by this method for circulation were the 1662 silver Crowns.

As a general rule coins should never be cleaned without seeking expert advice. Silver and copper coins can appear to be tarnished but this patina is prized by collectors.

Collectors quickly develop an understanding of condition and quality. As they handle and inspect different examples their understanding and eye tone.

There are many fields to capture the attention of collectors. Some will collect coins from a particular country, others will focus on a specific type of coin like Crowns, or a period. Many are attracted by collecting coins made from precious metals.

I love to imagine who might have held the coins which come to auction and what points of history they have encountered.

With such breadth of interest, price and quality coins have a growing following and remain one of the most buoyant collectors’ markets.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

£132,000 South Coast Discovery at Toovey’s

A pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled porcelain rectangular tea caddies
£132,000 pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled porcelain rectangular tea caddies

A pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled porcelain tea caddies, displayed on a window sill, caught the eye of a Toovey’s valuer during a routine visit to a client’s home. The caddies were subsequently brought in for sale and went under the gavel in a specialist Asian Art sale on Thursday 23rd February 2017.

These Qing dynasty caddies from the Imperial kilns were similar in shape to those made for the European export market. However, the painted blossoming branches and flowering stems accompanied by the lines of text and red seals are typically Chinese in taste, as are the profusely decorated sides with their panels of lotus flowers and tendrils. Measuring just 16.7cm in height they realised a remarkable £132,0000. Both the vendor and Toovey’s Asian Art specialist, Tom Rowsell, are delighted with the result.

Mantiques and the Gentleman’s Interior

Selection of fine leather-bound books sold in our specialist book auction in October 2016
Selection of fine leather-bound books sold in our specialist book auction in October 2016

It’s not a phrase you will hear on the rostrum at Toovey’s, but “Mantiques” are gathering ground among young professionals. It’s arguably a rebellion against the floral vintage and white-washed looks that have been dominating interior design magazines over the last decade. This particularly alpha male inspired scheme draws on the Gentlemen’s clubs of old, with beaten leathers mixed with exotic woods and mirrored glass. Perhaps best personified by the fictional character Ron Burgundy in the 2004 comedy Anchorman, who stated in reference to his own persona and interior:

“I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal. People know me. I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.”
Bedroom at the QT Sydney hotel

The rise of the sartorial gentleman is arguably still coming to fruition, but the fashion world is already embracing the gentlemanly touches of pocket watches, suit fabrics and perfect tailoring. Something Brighton-based designer, Gresham Blake, has been championing for the last decade. Top fashion houses such as Christian Dior, Chanel and Victoria Beckham have followed, adopting masculine influences in their collections. It is only natural with such a widespread influence on the sartorial world, that it will affect our opinion on interiors too. After all, a sophisticated man needs sophisticated surroundings. Within interiors, it’s a fusion between the traditional and the modern. Dark polished woods and a glow of subtle ambient light juxtaposed with boy’s toys such as sleek wireless speakers and the best of the latest technology. Despite the supposed male influence the look has been adopted by many females, most famously Jennifer Aniston at her Beverly Hills home, as featured in the Architectural Digest a few years ago. If you still can’t picture the look, the QT Sydney hotel in Australia has the luxury and quirky styling that is at the core of the interior design.

A pair of 20th Century George III style buttoned brown leather wing back armchairs sold for a hammer price of £1400
A pair of 20th Century George III style buttoned brown leather wing back armchairs sold for a hammer price of £1400 in December 2016

Every month sees a furniture auction at Toovey’s brimming with furniture made from luxurious dark woods and often offers previously loved leather armchairs, as well as other chairs crying out to be reupholstered in a sartorial fabric. The Specialist Book Auctions always include a host of beautiful books bound in glistening leathers to make a statement on the bookcase of opulence and intelligence. The next Book Auctions at Toovey’s will be on 24th April and 3rd October 2017. Other feature pieces could include decanters, silver salvers and candlesticks, mirrors and statement pieces of art. The look centres around quality, luxury and splashes of colour in a restrained but eclectic style. Toovey’s auctions always have a wealth of quality items that can help achieve the look and perhaps you will be inviting people to view your collection of “mantiques” soon!

Visit Toovey’s website to see forthcoming auctions and viewing times.

Christmas and New Year opening hours at Toovey’s 2016/2017

Please note that we close for the Christmas period at 5.00pm on Thursday 15th December and reopen at 10.00am on Thursday 29th December for pre-sale viewing of our End of Year Sale on 30th December.

Note: All enquiries regarding this sale will be responded to on our return.

After the sale day, we are closed from New Year’s Eve Saturday 31st December to Monday 2nd January.

We return to our normal opening hours from Tuesday 3rd January:
Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm for valuations and 9am to 5pm for all other enquiries.

Dixon’s Gavel Bash!

Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings by Simon Dixon

Nick Toovey will once again be wielding his gavel on contemporary art, but instead of hosting a self-representing artist sale, he will be conducting a contemporary art auction to raise funds for a much loved and celebrated Brighton-based artist, the ‘daddy’ of pop art, Simon Dixon, on Thursday 29th September at the Naked Eye Gallery in Hove.

'Dixon' by Antony Micallef
'Dixon' by Antony Micallef

A host of artists originating locally but of national and international renown have donated works to raise funds for Simon’s therapy and care in his battle against cancer. The auction includes works by Antony Micallef, Simon Dixon, Sarah Shaw, Ian Hodgson, Chris Kettle, Charlie Day, Tori Day, Paul Ostrer, Sam Hewitt, Jim Sanders and Graham Carter. The auction will be a rare opportunity to buy works of art from a gallery with the price tags decided by the bidders and buyers.

Auctioneer, Nick Toovey, said ‘I can’t wait! The auction includes works from so many of my friends from the Toovey’s contemporary art auction days, not least Simon himself, who really needs some help with what he is going through at the moment.  I love the community spirit of the art world and this auction exemplifies it.’

On the evening of the sale, the ‘Tree of Temptation’ will offer luxuriant treats donated by local artisans and businesses to buy and take home, but with a twist – find out more on the night!

Artwork offered for the sale can be previewed from 3rd September at the Naked Eye Gallery, 5 Farm Mews, Farm Road, Hove, BN3 1GH, where the auction itself will be conducted by Nick Toovey Thursday 29th September. Doors open at 7pm with the auction starting at 8pm. If you can’t make the auction but wish to try and buy, there are other ways to bid. Please ask for more details at the gallery.

Please visit the Facebook event page for further information.