|Report of the Meeting, February 21, 2015
Live Auction 5
PRESENT: Twenty members and one guest attended; apologies were received from five members.
The Chairman welcomed a good attendance to Spring Stampex, and especially our three visitors from Egypt, and moved quickly to pay tribute to the late Peter Smith, by far our longest serving member, a leading light of the Circle for very many years, and author of the Egypt “bible”. He asked Edmund Hall to explain the make-up of this QC, which is intended as a memorial to a great collector, and members then stood for a minute’s silence in memory of Professor Smith.
There was then a brief introduction by Sherif Samra (ESC 311), President of the Philatelic Society of Egypt, to the two Cairo exhibitions being organised in the run-up to the major celebration in January next year of the 150th anniversary of the first Egyptian postage stamps. For brief details see here.
Admin was dealt with quickly – we are happy to welcome new members in Amr El-Etreby from Egypt and Sun Yu Ng from California – and it was announced that 29 members had chosen to help the Circle’s funds by reading the QC online, We are grateful that so many made the choice; and hope it will be more in future.
The Live Auction that followed produced some surprises, but 11 of the 19 room bidders and 18 of the 23 who bid by email were able to add to their collections, with 99 of the 194 lots sold. Rather against the pattern of recent live auctions, the email bidders were much the more successful, winning 64 of the lots for a total of £1634 against 35 that went in the room for £1059. The recent pattern has been about a 50-50 split. All of the ten sellers were successful – but a plea to future vendors: it is clear that better-quality items are more attractive than run of the mill. Especially when they are offered at attractive starting prices. Before postage costs, the commission realised for the Circle is close to £400 – a satisfactory and entertaining afternoon.
Auction 53, which was completed late in mid-November, sold 291 of its 533 lots, very nearly 55 per cent and more than in recent auctions, which have hovered around the 44-48 per cent mark. There were 17 sellers and 46 bidders, two of them for the very first time.
There is still, however a tendency for lots to go to a single bid at the starting price: 154 of them in this case, virtually half of those sold, and in many cases that single bid was very much higher than the reserve. In similar vein, 13 of the bids matched the winning price but arrived later and so lost out. It was fascinating to watch the usual flurry of early bids, with 13 bidders in the first four days, Most bids were received for one of the First-Day covers, with Lot 131 attracting nine bids and moving up from £5 to £17.20. Eight lots went for over £100 – always something to gladden an auctioneer’s heart!
The whole auction was wrapped up – with material passed on and sellers paid out – in 12 days, which must be a record. Overall, the total for lots sold amounted to something over £5200, which is good news for the Circle, with commission due (before postage is paid for) of some £780. Postage, however, is a killer - thank you, Royal Mail – and in the future we shall need to be tougher on seeking postage for heavy or bulky items. “Normal” postage (ie, not registered) of over £10 is terrifying, and it was galling too to have to spend £2.15 to send a single stamp to its successful buyer! The postage total of over £100 cuts severely into our commission.
Which makes our thanks to Dr Sherif Samra all the more profound for his generously offered service as a “courier” between Cairo and London; and the same thanks go to those who have donated material for auction, including André Navari, Jack Graham, Ibrahim Shoukry, Mostafa El-Dars and former member Hillary Shaw. Without such generosity of spirit we would be a lesser society.