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Buying at auction, be it for stamps or coins, antiques or even cattle, can be one of the most exciting and profitable experiences possible. It can also be expensive and utterly frustrating. The best way to come out ahead is to learn the tricks of the trade early. Here are some suggestions that should help you get on the fast track to success.
(1) Do your research. Knowledge is your most important tool, even more important than money.
(2) Learn how to be inconspicuous.
(3) Beware of zombies, shills and lunatics. The best way to avoid them is
(4) Hire an agent.
(5) Be selective. Don't be afraid to spend the extra dollar when something especially rare or in exceptional condition comes your way. You may never get another chance.
(1) Every experienced buyer knows how important knowledge is. Questions of authenticity, condition, and rarity are always the key considerations. If you are fortunate enough to have both knowledge and money, you have the world by the tail. But even if you have limited funds you can still do very well if you know something the rest of the potential buyers don't.
(2) Once you have spotted something you want to buy, fade into the woodwork as much as possible. The last thing you want to do is attract attention to yourself or the lot you are interested in. After you've been around long enough, your competition will find out who you are. Until then try to keep as low a profile as possible and guard your information. Use a code system to keep track of your limits. I'm constantly amazed at how careless some bidders are with their auction catalogs and what they write in them.
(3) Zombies, shills and lunatics are every auction bidder's nightmare. If a zombie knows who you are, he/she will follow your every move. Their motto is: if that person is willing to spend a hundred dollars for a lot, I sure can afford to spend a hundred and ten. Most people know what a shill is. It is someone working for the auction house or seller who artificially pushes up prices by bidding against you. In order for an item to get a good price, two or more bidders must be interested in it. Shills are especially skilled at figuring out how high you are willing to go. Lunatics are the ones who absolutely have to have a lot and will bid whatever it takes to win it. The best way to deal with these three worthies is to hire an agent to bid for you.
(4) Agents are professionals who have developed skills at bidding at auction. One famous New York stamp auction agent was so skilled at hiding his bids that only the auctioneer and a few other people ever knew how he did it. As strange as it may sound, paying an auction agent the extra 2-5% fee may save you many hundreds of dollars or more in the long run. The zombies, shills and lunatics won't know who is bidding against them.
(5) Finally, one of the most important skills of all is the ability to recognize when to open up the purse strings. Condition and rarity are the two most important determinants of price. The exceptional item is always worth an extra bid or two. One customer who was examining my stamps at a national stamp show remarked, "I've been looking for this one for more than 40 years and you have a very nice copy. But I never pay more than half catalog for anything." I wished him well. It was a scarce stamp and I expect he'll still be looking if he lives another 40 years.
To summarize: knowledge is the primary key to success at auction bidding. Secondly, develop your skills as a bidder and buyer. Then, learn to recognize the individuals you will have to deal with on the auction floor. Cross them up and use and agent. And finally, know when to pay a premium for the exceptional item.
Best of luck!
John Anderson has been bidding at auction for more than forty years and has purchased hundreds of stamps, antiques and collectibles that way. Now semi-retired from stamps he is a full-time writer. His first novel, The Cellini Masterpiece, was published under the pseudonym of Raymond John. He is now hard at work on his second, and an auction plays an important role in the plot. If you would like to contact John or read the first chapter of The Cellini Masterpiece, please log on at: http://www.cmasterpiece.com
Antiques and the Arts Online
Yale Halfback's 1937 Heisman Trophy Drives To $312000 At Heritage Auctions
Antiques and the Arts Online
DALLAS — Numerous bidders made a run at the 1937 Heisman Memorial Trophy presented to Yale University halfback Clint Frank to drive its final price to $312,000, with buyer's premium, claiming top-lot honors in Heritage Auctions' Fall Sports ...
Roberto Clemente Game-Worn Jersey, World Series Trophy Up For Auction
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Stolen and Seized Items from Municipalities and Police Departments to be Auctioned Off through PropertyRoom.com
PR Web (press release)
From July through June, September, ten (10) Municipalities and Police Departments chose to partner with PropertyRoom.com to auction off their unclaimed stolen, seized or surplus assets and goods. PropertyRoom.com is an online auction site offering “$1 ...
Need a Porsche at bargain-basement prices? Saturday's state auction has you covered
All vehicles must be paid for in full the day of the auction. Cash, credit and debit cards (Discover, MasterCard and Visa) are accepted. There is a 3 percent service fee on all credit and debit card transactions. Temporary tags are no longer available ...
AmmoLand Shooting Sports News
Morphy's To Auction Wyatt Earp's Gun, Chief Rain-In-The-Face's Winchester Oct. 30
AmmoLand Shooting Sports News
Colt single-action Army revolver that belonged to legendary sheriff Wyatt Earp in the 1890s, extensive Earp family lineage and documentation. Est. $75,000-$100,000. DENVER, Pa. – -(AmmoLand.com)- While Morphy Auctions strives to make each of its sales ...
Oil study attributed to Thomas Gainsborough (Br., 1727-1788) will headline Woodshed's Nov. 1st auction
The auction will be held on Thursday, November 1st, online and live in the 500 Gallery, at 475 Franklin Village Drive in Franklin. Live bidding will begin promptly at 5:30 pm Eastern time. People can register and bid now, at www.woodshedartauctions.com.
Business Wire (press release)
Over a Half a Million Dollars Raised to Benefit Tilly's Life Center
Business Wire (press release)
Sponsors, supporters and friends of TLC gathered for an evening of dancing, drinks, family style gourmet food, music, live and silent auctions accompanied by a TLC graduate's captivating story of forgiveness. Their overwhelming support resulted in ...
Yield curve flattens before auctions
NEW YORK: The US Treasury yield curve flattened to its lowest level in more than two weeks on Monday before the Treasury Department is due to sell $108 billion in new short- and intermediate-dated debt this week. The debt sales will include $38 billion ...
November Basrah Light Cargo Sold At OSP +$0.20: Dubai Mercantile Exchange Auctions
Exchange News Direct
Iraq's National Oil Company SOMO Monday sold a 2-million barrel cargo of Basrah Light via DME Auctions, achieving a premium of $0.20 per barrel over the November Basrah Light Official Selling Price (OSP). SOMO increased its Basrah Light OSPs for ...
250 year-old Christie's could be a 21st century digital disruptor
James Christie, the founder of Christie's auction house, conducted his first sale in London on 5 December 1766. Over 250 years later, the global business holds around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and ...
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