The E-Sylum:  Volume 7, Number 15, April 11, 2004, Article 18


  Darryl Atchision writes: "Here is another (perhaps the last)
  contribution on catalogue pet peeves.

  I want to thank the few collectors who chose to respond to
  my previous commentary concerning the absence of price
  estimates and select bibliographies from modern sale catalogues.
  I do have to wonder, however, why no dealers/cataloguers
  have responded.  I know there are many pre-eminent dealers
  with huge reputations on our mailing list and I would have
  loved to hear their viewpoints since I believe that any discussion
  is also worthwhile - even if agreement or consensus cannot be

  Nonetheless, I will once again throw my gauntlet to the ground
  and raise another thorny "pet peeve" which is perhaps even
  more distressing than no page numbers, no price estimates and
  no bibliographies.  I am talking about something which affects
  present day collectors (especially bidders) as well as future

  How many times have you received a catalogue which had an
  item identified as a particular lot no. and when you went to
  view the coin, token (whatever) the item was not in fact what
  was described in the catalogue.  I am not referring to grading
  issues - no two people will ever always agree on grading. I
  am talking, rather, about cataloguing errors.  Either misattribution
  or simple human error.  For example, a recent sale I was
  perusing had coins of mixed denominations listed together -
  even though the descriptions indicated they were all the same
  denomination.  It would have been obvious to an advanced
  bidder that the cataloguer had simply made some typing errors
  and when the material was sorted for presentation in the
  catalogue the coins were lumped together

  It makes me wonder why cataloguers don't publish errata
  sheet(s) for their sales.  I realize that once the catalogues have
  been mailed the catalogues can't be corrected, but how
  difficult would it be to make a sheet available at the time of
  the auction or to prepare one post-sale that corrects the
  cataloguing errors, notes withdrawn lots and covers any
  other issues.  I know that some prices realized lists will
  address the issue of withdrawn lots but not all of them do it
  effectively so that it is immediately evident which lots have
  been withdrawn.

  I'm not trying to be difficult, but I would like to be confident
  when I am looking at a sale twenty years from now that I
  have the best and most correct information at my fingertips
  - short of having to write all over the catalogues myself.
  Even this option is not realistic as no-one can attend every
  sale - so they won't have first hand knowledge of all the
  cataloguing errors that occur.

  I would be interested if any of our other readers have a
  viewpoint on this."

  [I'll offer one thought - while catalogues are indeed
  great tools for numismatic researchers, their original
  purpose is completely different.  They are a vehicle for
  selling coins.  Always have been, always will be.  While
  many auction houses and cataloguers indeed strive to
  present a quality product for both today and tomorrow,
  even the most conscientious among them are already hard
  at work on the next sale as soon as the last one is out the
  door.  As such, they have little time to devote to cleaning
  up the previous sale.  I would also point out that since
  most cataloguers are indeed fairly conscientious about
  producing error-free work, it may be a safe assumption
  that they simply are not aware of the errors you are finding;
  after all, if they knew about them, they wouldn't have
  appeared in the final product to begin with!  Not all
  readers notice them, and of those that do, few take the
  time to notify the author.  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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