29. ledna 2024
The successful Czech coin, banknote and historic-legal-tender market is at its peak now. It is a subject of interest for numismatic enthusiasts at home and abroad as well as for investors. Numismatics constitutes a remnant of boyhood dreams: it means a search for the unknown, can mean great adventures, and tends not to be attractive for women. In connection with last year’s significant successes of Czech numismatics, we asked František Křesťan from the Aurea Numismatika auction house for an interview.
At your last auction, several numismatic records were shattered. Can one assume then that Czech numismatics is doing well?
Numismatics has been doing well for a long time due to a large, stable base of collectors which has been expanding in recent years, and not only in the Czech Republic. However, records can only be broken if extraordinary items are offered at auction.
What is the situation here compared to abroad? Do you follow the foreign markets?
The numismatic market is of course global today. I go to auctions all over the world to acquire items for our customers. It’s pleasing that after years of communism during which coins were only exported from our country, significantly more are being imported than exported now. National markets are usually influenced by the prices of items related to a given country or location. Therefore, our market is instrumental in creating the prices for Czech coins or coins relating to our territory. Some segments, such as ancient numismatics, however, are global. In recent years, one can observe significant growth of eastern markets, including the Czech market.
How do you explain the results? Was it primarily a quality offer and good timing, or did other factors also play a role?
A pre-requisite for record-high prices is, of course, a quality offer. The guarantees provided by our auction house play an important role as well, supported this time by expert comparison with the only known museum-held specimen in the case of the most expensive coin. It’s highly satisfying for our company that the prices achieved at our auctions are comparable with results of the world’s largest auction houses. Now, we even receive items from foreign collectors and dealers to be sold at auction. Coins are sold where the sellers expect to yield the highest prices.
Who are your clients and can you somehow categorise them in social terms or by age? Are they typical numismatic enthusiasts and collectors, or are coins today also the subject of investment demand?
Our customers are primarily collectors and numismatic enthusiasts. Of course, coins are also the subject of investment demand today, and thus some buyers can be labelled as investors. With regard to age and socio-economic status, the range is very diverse, except for the fact that it is predominantly a men’s affair. There are even fewer women among us than in politics.
Are we attractive to foreign buyers today? Do they follow your auctions?
Our auctions are known abroad. If you’ll excuse my being can immodest, I must say that ours are the most followed of the auctions organised in the new EU countries.
How long have you been involved in numismatics?
I’ve been involved in numismatics since my childhood, i.e. for more than 30 years.
How long have you been building your collection, and what has changed in the numismatic market in our country during that time?
I also started building my collection when I was a child. The possibilities in the communist era cannot be compared to today’s situation. The range of coins on offer was very limited, especially in the segment of ancient numismatics which I’m interested in the most. Auctions organised beyond the Iron Curtain were completely inaccessible to us, and so our knowledge and experience were also limited.
How did your auction house start up?
My partner Roman Veselý and I founded the auction house in 2000. We had a great deal of collector experience, but that is true of many people in our country. Even though we were ambitious, we were far from certain whether we would succeed in building a European-standard auction house in the conditions offered in this country. It was a certain advantage that there was no such house in Eastern Europe at that time. The first three years were quite modest. Later, also due to lucky coincidences, such as the acquisition of exceptional collections and the economic boom, we started doing well.
Do you have any numismatic dream or goal you are striving for?
Many numismatists have a dream specimen or dream about the completion of a certain collection. My collecting segment, the Antiquity, is so vast that any effort to complete it would certainly be in vain. However, my dream may be the discovery of an as yet unknown, unrecorded type or variant. Collecting also involves research activities that can turn into great adventures.
Imagine that you addressing potential young coin collectors – what would you tell them? What is the appeal of numismatics? I suppose it isn’t just that a numismatic collection is much easier to store than a fine-art collection…
I would hope they were attracted primarily by the aesthetic and historic uniqueness and the beauty of numismatics, so that attractiveness of investment isn’t the only important thing for them. I believe that the appeal is also in the search and quest and the fact that many coins can be hard to find in these times when one believes one can get anything if you have enough money. Compared to collecting fine art, I’d say the advantage, other than just easier storage, lies in the fact that prices are more transparent and easier to establish. Each painting is an original and has its own price, whereas coins are interchangeable and can thus be compared more easily.
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