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geejay50

S & Co Tokens fail to shine on ebay

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geejay50

Hello all,

 

 

Griqua Coins of 1816/16 , it seems the market still suports them when it comes to the auctions.

 

At a recent UK St James Auction No 16. 07/12/2010 lots 678 and 679 were an AU58 Griquatown Silver 10 Pence and an MS64 Griquatown 5 Pence with starting prices of 4000GBP (R42,320 plus 20% Buyers Premium). At that price a bid was placed during the live event on each coin but the auction was passed as the reserve had not been reached.

 

See pics of respective coins.

 

 

 

thumb00678.jpgthumb00679.jpg

 

 

 

By contrast 12 Strachan & Co Tokens (including the rare M&H 2/-) were placed on ebay initially unsold on a starting buy now of $3000 by a seller who said the following ;

 

The Strachan & Co tokens are South Africa’s first circulating indigenous currency. They circulated for nearly 60 years from 1874. The Griquatown token coins never circulated. Proof available at the source. (Balson, S. Strachan & Co tokens. (Available: The trade tokens of Strachan and Co. Last accessed 7/10/2010).

 

 

 

he batch remained unsold and was then converted to a democratic $1 start, to sell eventually for $202-50 (R1377 or R114 per coin) Item No 270685238369 on 04.11.2011.

 

The botom line is that collectors do not need a reference that tells them that a coin circulated or not. No other really old coins have such references (Roman /Greek /Byzantine) , yet they fetch big prices. T

 

 

Geejay

Edited by qball
removed confrontational posts

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jwither

I do not collect tokens (or medals) generally, but I see no reason why the same dynamics do not and will not continue to apply to these as they do to others such as in the United States.

 

In the United States, collectors actively collect tokens from the colonial period, the 1830's or thereabouts ("Hard Times" tokens) and the US civil war period. I do not know how scarce or rare any of these are but though some are worth decent money, they do not sell anywhere near what comporably scarce coins do and the prospects for them doing so I would rate as essentially zero.

 

To MOST collectors (the vast majority), there is a difference between legal tender (and these tokens I list WERE used as money) and those that are not. Tokens were not "officially" legal tender and therefore, not considered coinage or required to be bought to acquire a complete set. That is why the demand for them is so much less generically because there are many fewer token collectors than coin collectors.

 

In terms of an issue such as those struck or supposedly struck in 1815-1816, it also does not matter to most collectors whether they are or are not what the catalogs claim. The fact that they ARE in the catalog is enough for most collectors to consider them part of a complete set. Its no different really from a coin such as the 1879 United States Flowing Hair gold $4 "Stella". This coin is in actuality a common pattern with a mintage of 400. However, the only reason that possibly explains why it sells for $150,000 USD or more (an exhorbitant amount based upon its actual scarcity and availability) is because it is listed in the "Red Book". And since it is, then many collectors consider it part of a "type set" or one with every design/denomination combination.

 

For the Strachan & Co tokens, they also have three other things going against them from a financial standpoint. The designs are unappealing (I consider them plain at best) and they are base metal. Also, I consider it highly likely that for most or even all of them, that possibly zero exist in MS or close to it. To MOST collectors this does matter which is why they are not going to pay as much as they would for say, a high grade KGV (such as the 1926 1/2D PCGS MS-63 BN which sold on eBay today for $2100 USD), even if the latter is less historical and possibly more common.

Edited by jwither

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Propaganda

 

Hi Georg

 

You say:

The Strachan & Co tokens are South Africa’s first circulating indigenous currency. They circulated for nearly 60 years from 1874. The Griquatown token coins never circulated. Proof available at the source. (Balson, S. Strachan & Co tokens. (Available: The trade tokens of Strachan and Co. Last accessed 7/10/2010).

Despite the propaganda, the batch remained unsold and was then converted to a democratic $1 start, to sell eventually for $202-50 (R1377 or R114 per coin) Item No 270685238369 on 04.11.2011.

Your personally directed tirades are becoming a bit tiresome but I won't take the bait.

 

This subject was discussed at some great length here on this BoB Forum.. See: http://forum.bidorbuy.co.za/coins-notes-numismatist/11057-griquatown-1-4p-first-coins-used-sa.html

My sources cannot be faulted because they are accurate - and (as you might recall) the unchallenged outcome was:

 

The silver Griquatown tokens were a failed experiment. At best they might have had very limited circulation for a brief period of time in 1820 in the small settlement at Griquatown, but there are no records to support this. Helm notes in 1821 that he had the great majority of the tokens meaning very few were actually distributed. The copper Griquatown tokens may have only been minted, for reasons unknown, many years later as no reference is made to them in any reports dating back to, or before, the early 1820s.

 

Source: http://forum.bidorbuy.co.za/coins-notes-numismatist/11057-griquatown-1-4p-first-coins-used-sa-7.html#post87799

 

Unlike the Griquatown token coins there is ample evidence to support the fact (which is not challenged) that the S&Co circulated widely as currency across a region the size of Ireland. Not only that but they were holed to facilitate their storage by the indigenous peoples of East Griqualand from 1874 to 1932 when they were withdrawn. This is a significant transition in the new South Africa because MOST coinage up to then (sovereigns, Rijksdaalder, scheepjesgulden etc) was largely aimed at use by the white settler population. There is no doubt the S&Co (set one) were the first indigenous coins to circulate widely in South Africa.

 

Could you please explain to me and this forum why these facts are propaganda?

 

As to the price they sold for someone did get a bargain - but the date you supply is a bit confusing seeing that November 2011 is ten months away. (You see I did not get personal?)

 

Unlike the 1936 Farthing this set of coins was very poorly marketed as (if they have indeed sold yet) I certainly was not aware of the fact they were for sale otherwise I would have been a bidder!

 

If you have something of value to add to the debate over the Griquatown tokens feel free to add it but using words like "propaganda" does little to support your cause.

 

PS I think you will find that the silver Griquatown tokens, you refer to, did not reach the reserve because their prices in that condition have fallen dramatically over the last 18 months. I recall similar Griquatown tokens selling for about US$15,000 on eBay. In reflection the price offered at auction is quite a dramatic drop.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

6d..jpg.027962258742fca9c88ec790b75f2726.jpg

Edited by ndoa18

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jwither

Scott,

 

I will stand corrected on the point you made. I would expect that those in UNC deserve a strong price but one still much less than a comporably scarce legal tender coin. Most or all of the others though that I have seen appear to be in grades of VF or so. And if there are more than 20,000 in existence just with the hoard you had or have, that is likely to be ample supply for what I see as the likely foreseeable collector base. I'm not sure how many issues are represented by your hoard, but by my standards, anywhere from several hundred to several thousand is really not that scarce. I have seen a decent number of these for sale primarily on eBay, though I do not recall how many different tokens this includes.

Edited by jwither

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Response to John

 

John, in relation to S&CO in UNC condition - I have quite a few pieces which are in perfect condition - the best pieces out of the over 20,000 I counted back in the 1970s. They have no nicks and some are beautifully toned (see example below). My best set of S&Co is largely in UNC and all the other pieces in near UNC.

 

In relation to "circulating currency" the S&Co were adopted by the independent Griqua Raad (who ruled East Griqualand until 1878) as their currency. Even the Standard Bank in Kokstad accepted and distributed the S&Co coins - long after 1878 - as their own published history records. The designs are a bit plain but the remarkable power of a trading story as the region's banker reflects an interesting twist. The S&Co were backed by the trading stores goods - which is more than you can say or the FIAT currency we use today!

 

Here is an example of a S&Co in UNC... (this piece has mirror fields - lost in the scan)

[ATTACH=CONFIG]1014[/ATTACH]

 

With regards to the 20,000 coins I counted. I kept just a few hundred pieces - mainly complete sets which are now out there in private collections. The rest of the coins were taken by Ken Strachan after S&Co closed down in the early 1980s as a result of the homeland policy. Ken showed me the coins in large bank bags in the late 1980s at his home in Pietermaritzburg. Prof Clive Graham and (I believe) Anthony Govender also saw the coins held by Ken. A few years later - after giving a bag to a local jeweler - the coins were made up into jewelery - he had the rest melted down for their metal value. The money was given to a local church.

 

When I saw the coins I offered to buy the lot but Ken refused to part with them.

 

And I do agree with you about many collectors just collecting what they are told to collect in books.. this is what separates most collectors from real numismatists!

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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geejay50

Hi Scott,

 

In summary all the positive publicity you have promoted for the S&Co Tokens in your website and this forum as being the first truly indigenous currency has fallen on blind eyes and deaf ears of the man you need to impress ie the collector.

 

He has voted with his wallet and given the Token a tiny price in relation to the well pedigreed Griqua coins. That is unfortunate but really these Tokens are quite common (excepting MH), dont get graded and never come to big international auctions. Every second trading store in the Transkei and Southern Natal had their own Tokens, some are so rare that they may be extinct (Milner Snell's book). S & Co are but part of a basket of Tokens from that time.

 

The attempt at denigration of well pedigreed circulated Griqua coins in the vain hope of bringing the market (read money) to the S&Co token area has possibly been the best advertisement that the Griqua Coins could ever have had.

 

You see many of us were taught at school as part of old Apartheid History that Dr John Phillip and his championing of the Griqua people as being the arch enemy of the Afrikaner cause. Now we have these coins and these stories about productive Griqua people who with the help of such missionaries traded down south to keep the trade routes to the east going. Then they lost their lands to the Diamond barons and had their own Groot Trek to Mount Currie. Its nice to have such coins to tell us the true history of the past so that we can give dignity to the descendants of these people and can heal some wounds. That is very important for those of us that still live here.

 

 

 

Geejay

Edited by geejay50

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Thank you for the clarification

 

Hi Georg

 

Thank you for the clarification.

 

I sense that you agree the word "propaganda" in your first post was inappropriate - I agree.

 

If you look at this forum you will see that the only time I have mentioned the S&Co is when someone first raises the coins - like you did in this thread.

 

In fact if you have a look at the thread dedicated to the history of South African tokens the S&Co are missing. See: http://forum.bidorbuy.co.za/coins-notes-numismatist/6818-southern-africa-tokens.html. I have put up posts about the Durban Club and Larkan there. Now if your insinuation that I take every opportunity to "promote" the S&Co on this forum was correct do you not think I would have "promoted" them there?

 

Sadly I am still waiting for my copies of Milner's new books (blame the postal service!) so cannot respond to your comment - only to say that the other tokens came out years AFTER the first set of S&Co. And that is what makes them the FIRST widely circulating indigenous currency in South Africa. It might be of interest to you that the catalyst for Milner to further research the tokens of East Griqualand was my book "Kence". (Ask him). Milner is a very good friend of mine and we are in constant contact by email over a number of issues including his seeking advice on related matters. You might recall I alerted this forum to his new books a few months back. This year Milner will be taking me around the historic Mount Currie site which was first exposed when I discovered the outline of the village on Google Earth about a year ago. Milner will tell you that, as a result of this information, he and his colleagues from the Kokstad Museum, are now marking out the old village. This is very exciting and historic news!

 

I am still waiting for you to contribute something of value to this debate (ie facts disproving what I have stated). As I have said so many times before I would be happy to debate this subject with you or another serious collector in a public forum - and I am planning on coming to South Africa in September - October this year.

 

Georg says:

That is unfortunate but really these Tokens are quite common (excepting MH), dont get graded and never come to big international auctions.
To correct you if I may, the set three one shilling is as scarce as the Mountain Home pieces. In fact less than one hundred were counted by me back in the 1970s.

 

The S&Co have been sold on big international auctions on many occasions that I know of.

 

And to correct you once again.. here is an example of many of the S&Co coins which have now been graded (sold on BoB by ZARBOY):

58f5a71ee9929_sampcograded..jpg.6f27a1d83c28f5886ba47e9965bfe737.jpg

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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geejay50

Hi Scott,

 

My apologies, this is the first S&Co Token that I have seen graded but is the exception rather than the rule. Griqua coins are usually graded and even sent to NCS to get them protection as they are so rare and so sought after.

 

Reading Milner Snell's book on Tokens, it is not really sure when the S&Co Tokens started and he can find nothing to substantiate the quoted 1874 date.

 

The much rarer James Cole Token started during the bad recession of 1880 and he built his first store (Riverside) in 1873 (after working for Cecil John Rhodes as his farm manager from 1870 to 71) His Tokens were the result of an argument he had about money with his Bank Manager where he decided to have his own money made (tokens). He died in 1937 a very rich man at the age of 96 with an estate that included 54 farms,52 erven, the entire village of Franklin, 12,013 head of cattle,22 992 head of sheep and 18 trading stores. He had a really colourful character and stories about him abound.These Tokens are easily the contemporary of the Strachan Tokens and would fetch high prices if offered.

 

I have been fortunate in acquiring a set of his tokens and when other such tokens were spare there was a frenzy amongst collectors to try and get some (including Peter Bowles). I am not a big Token collector though but these are worth having.

 

The S&Co Tokens might not be worth slabbing but the Durban Club Tokens are. They were the first and are well known. I have had mine slabbed to identify the variety and to preserve them.

 

 

Regards

 

Geejay

58f5a71eeeca1_1880JamesCole3amp100.jpg.b0e711294c699b0756ab4d0c1a5bb51a.jpg

58f5a71ef3062_1860DurbanClubTamp.jpg.980a6f6b7d0350f72f4d97cde24f05c7.jpg

58f5a71f0352b_1880JamesCole6amp100.jpg.43391e08225d742e4d457ac3f17e13ce.jpg

58f5a71f079bd_1880JamesColeSamp104.jpg.c4c5d537a58301e1b661a519eee0fcaf.jpg

58f5a71f0bde0_1860DurbanClubTamp.jpg.9fd22edcf2ca936107ab100954e18246.jpg

Edited by geejay50

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Am I missing something?

 

Hi Georg

 

In your first post you call my research propaganda and anything anyone else writes as fact without question. Milner has done his own research independent of Prof Clive Graham and I - that is what adds weight to the research and the undervalued role of the trade tokens in East Griqualand. Clive had a source which confirmed the 1874 date of the S&Co and I had discussions with Ken Strachan in Umzimkhulu back in the 1970s in which he stated that he had been told that that was when the first S&Co set were circulated.

 

What you have to understand is that I had direct access for many months with Ken Strachan while I worked at Barclays Bank Ixopo in the 1970s and he showed me letters from his grandfather talking about these tokens being used everywhere from the late 1870s on. The Standard Bank even confirm in their history that the S&Co were accepted and distributed by the bank at remote Kokstad from 1878 Source - the 2003 PDF of the history of Standard Bank Kokstad first 125 years. I have about fifty S&Co pieces I purchased from Judge Tom Mullins (Google him) about six years ago. Tom bought these at face value from the Magistrates Court in Umzimkhulu - where they had been accepted as payment for fines in earlier days. Clearly the S&Co were (as their high numbers even today suggest) a bona fide currency of the region. For more on my meeting with Tom Mullins in 2006 see: Scott Balson's trip to South Africa - 15th September 2006 - Port Elizabeth - see the bottom of the page and related links at the bottom.

 

Milner's research is based on his own independent research and more recent material - and I highly respect his work. It is good to have different viewpoints based on independent research - just like mine on the Griquatown token coins. That is what no one on this forum seems to understand. It adds depth. And, as you know, I was the first to alert everyone here to Milner's research because I have an open mind and love conflicting perspectives - because that gives you a clearer overall view when you know all the facts. (I STILL have to receive my copies of the books!!)

 

I have nearly fifty James Cole tokens that I have collected over many years. I have never sold one because, yes, they are rare. There are probably only a couple of hundred in existence today. The rumour was that Cole hoarded his tokens under the floor of his butchery at Riverbank in the 1930s. I remember seeing the old butchery in the 1970s - if only I had known! It was partly washed away in a flood some years later. Who knows in years to come they might start washing up on the mouth of the Umzimkhulu River - metal detector hobbyists - this is a new area to check! For some of my James Cole tokens.. and more on this remarkable man who stole books from Cecil Rhodes! See: James Cole Tokens

 

With regards to the butchery at Riverside Milner Snell of the Kokstad Museum reported the following to me by email in July 2006: The butchery at Riverside does still exist although it is in a bad state. Underneath the building is cellar where the meat was stored. The floor is dirt. I arranged a metal detector and did a quick sweep of the butchery, but alas I came across bits of metal but no tokens. This can lead to three conclusions: My source was wrong, the tokens are buried deeper than the detector I had could reach or that they were washed away in a very bad flood that went through Riverside in the 1980s. Riverside was once a very attractive but rather run down settlement. Unfortunately over the last two years a large low cost housing scheme has been built close to the old hotel and it has ruined it.

 

As far as slabbing is concerned, I know of many S&Co that have been slabbed. I see them all the time. Personally I do not slab any of my coins - I have what Allyn Jacobs calls the finest set of Durban Club 6ds around - including the pattern. None are slabbed. See: The Durban Club 6d and images of the four coins purchased from the Durban Club. The three coins above these images were sold last year through BoB for over ZAR20,000.

 

I dislike slabbing old coins because it is like putting a condom around a rose and then trying to appreciate its historical aroma. I cannot understand the obsession coin collectors have with slabbing! Dr Frank Mitchell would turn in his grave... let me quote to you what he said: "My final downfall came when an old family friend showed me his collection. I listened spellbound as he introduced me to his coin portrait gallery. He allowed me to hold a Macedonian tetradrachm of Alexander the Great while he told me of his incredible exploits. My hand trembled as I studied the fine portrait of Alexander in his lion-head headdress. Two and a quarter thousand years ago he died – though only 33, the conqueror of most of the known world. Suddenly, as I studied the coin, the truth dawned – I was holding History in my hand!"

 

ie not a slabbed coin!

 

Some other related links

 

Ken Strachan orders thirty copies of "Kence, the trade tokens of Strachan and co" from me (1978) - applauding its accuracy

Page one: http://www.tokencoins.com/ken1.gif

Page two: http://www.tokencoins.com/ken2.gif

 

A letter from Milner Snell to me (2005): http://www.tokencoins.com/book/snell.gif

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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jwither

I had never seen a graded SA token before the one you showed except for one, an 1861 Hope & Co MS-63 BN. While NGC does not specifically lists these as items they grade, to my knowledge they will grade other items not on their lists as long as attribution can be supported. I have also seen these are major auction if someone's defintion includes those in the UK such as Baldwin's, but not in the US.

 

From a financial standpoint, I do not know what your UNC would sell for now (I would guess in the vicinity of $1,000 USD each depending upon how scarce they actually are). I know you do not keep them for this purpose, but I do think they will be "winners" financially in the future, but just less than scarce Union and ZAR.

 

The circulated specimens, I doubt it. I would expect that they will increase in value somewhat because $202 is cheap for a set of five, but I do not expect many collectors to pay substantially more given their apparent scarcity and the other attributes I described.

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Anomaly

 

Hi John

 

The S&Co UNC pieces are very rare - I was able to keep the handful that I own during the count in Ixopo in the late 1970s (Ken Strachan said I could keep the coins I wanted as the company had no use or them). The research of the coins included categorising all 20,000 using a bathtub (which went black) filled with soap and warm water and towels (which went black) to clean them - this process took six months working several hours most nights.

 

The price for the incomplete set sold on eBay (with only one MH coin) that Georg refers to in his opening post is an anomaly - and the buyer did very well. The coins must have been badly listed because I missed them! A few years ago I picked up a very nice Durban Club 6d for under $50 on eBay - and last year, here on BoB, I picked up a unique Stafford Post token coin for a few hundred rand - so bargains do happen!

 

Last year I sold a complete set of S&Co on BoB for ZAR20,000 at an open auction with strong bidding for the coins. The S&Co is widely acknowledged as the most widely sought after of South African tokens. This is not my suggestion but that of others on this forum in the past.

 

You can see the auction of the S&Co set I sold at: Tokens - First time offered on BoB - complete set of Strachan and Co (16 pieces) was sold for R20,001.00 on 13 Jul at 20:00 by ndoa18 in Australia (ID:23464177)

 

Complete sets including the rare MH and old In Goods 1/- are very hard to come by and less than fifty collectors in the world have a complete set today. The most complete record of owners of complete sets can be seen at: General Background to the Strachan & Co coins - the list is probably not complete or out of date but it gives a general idea of the caliber of collector who has decided to collect them.

 

There are only about 100 of each of the four MH pieces in existence, with the set three 1/- less than that - so the number of possible complete sets is under 100. While that might seem relatively common I can tell you that I am constantly getting unsolicited enquiries from people around the world. I just sold a complete set of S&Co last week for over US$3,000 to a buyer in the US.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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jwither

I was not aware that there are 16 pieces in the set, so maybe $3,000 USD is a reasonable price but its probably more than I would be included to pay. The issues I have seen are like the picture you included of the 2/, though I would not know the grades because I am not proficient at grading them.

 

Unless there are multiple 2/, this particular piece to my recollection is not particularly scarce. I have considered buying them when listed on eBay, but just never got around to it.

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Georg Please Explain

 

George (geejay) said:

 

By contrast 12 Strachan & Co Tokens (including the rare M&H 2/-) were placed on ebay initially unsold on a starting buy now of $3000 by a seller who said the following ;

 

The Strachan & Co tokens are South Africa’s first circulating indigenous currency. They circulated for nearly 60 years from 1874. The Griquatown token coins never circulated. Proof available at the source. (Balson, S. Strachan & Co tokens. (Available: The trade tokens of Strachan and Co. Last accessed 7/10/2010).

 

Despite the propaganda, the batch remained unsold and was then converted to a democratic $1 start, to sell eventually for $202-50 (R1377 or R114 per coin) Item No 270685238369 on 04.11.2011.

I am interested to hear the real agenda of a numismatist/coin dealer who started this thread who stated the above... when right now on BoB a single Strachan coin (a 2/- MH listed among the coins sold on eBay) has a price of R1590 (ie more than the closing price for the TWELVE Strachan coins offered for sale on eBay).

 

Georg you would have known that this eBay listing in your quote above was very badly marketed.

 

For the MH piece currently offered for sale by EWAAN see: Tokens - Strachan & Co. Type #2 Mountain Home - 2 Shilling - Scarcer Type @@@ R1 Start for sale in Johannesburg (ID:31268666)

 

(For the record I have offered EWAAN the corrected background to the history I originally supplied to Theron (who wrote the first coin book back in the 1970s) but he continues to quote information on his Strachan listings from Theron's book which is outdated and NOT correct.)

 

You will note that the SINGLE S&Co (2/- MH) coin listed for sale still has nearly ONE WEEK to go BUT its current price is higher than the total of the 12 coins sold on eBay that Georg refers to in his opening post - my earlier response (above) suggests a practical and obvious reason apparently overlooked by Georg. I am not a bidder on any of the coins currently offered for sale by EWAAN - as you will see.

 

EWAAN has listed this MH token coin as well as a large number of other S&Co (including common pieces) under tokens (See: Tokens for sale) starting at R1

 

Look at the S&Co prices currently offered for sale by EWAAN (R1 start) - WITH NEARLY A WEEK TO GO. I would be interested to hear from Georg why they currently attract more interest than much rarer token coins (and even "currency" pieces) listed on BoB right now.

 

As I think you once said Georg - let the buyer decide.

 

Its one thing calling someone who has credibility a "propagandist" it is another supporting that derogatory allegation with FACTS - please do so.

 

Georg, I am waiting for you to do that.

 

PS I apologise to those who have PMd me and contacted me by email regarding the "On the cusp" thread but I am keeping my powder dry now largely thanks to this derogatory opening post by Georg. As far as I am concerned sharing knowledge needs to be respected or it is lost... the lack of rebuttal to this opening post from prominent numismatists who participate here to Georg's suggestion that my years of research is "propaganda" is compelling. I am now a bystander on this forum not an active participant.

 

For the record there is (in my view) no better opportunity than right now to buy gold and silver at "low" prices. I continue to buy crowns on BoB

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

Edited by ndoa18

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qball

Scott - please argue the post and not the poster.

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Addendum

 

I forgot to add....

 

the prices being achieved on BoB continually demonstrate that, when it comes to South African coins, there is no better online auction market than BoB.

 

Kind regards

 

Scott Balson

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qball

Notice to all on this topic. Personal comments and confrontational posts will not be tolerated. Should this continue this topic will be closed and removed from the forum.

 

Thank you

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