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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
BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Two Maine malls have now gone up for auction.
Arizona's collection of classic car auctions sold $251 million worth of cars during the past week, a total up about 1.2 percent increase from the previous year.
Ford auctioned off its first GT Heritage Edition supercar on Friday at the 48th annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, where the vehicle ...
The Spenger maritime collection went to auction this past weekend, but the rarest items, including a 34.29-carat diamond and a rare Japanese vase from the ...
Heritage Auctions' early January numismatic sales topped $71 million for the fourth consecutive year, the company announced Jan. 18.
WOODLAND — There's a lot to admire in The Columbian's offices.
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Jackie Robinson's contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers -- one of the most important documents of all time -- is hitting the auction block and it's expected to fetch ...
View detailed pictures that accompany our The 11 most expensive lots at the 2019 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction article with close-up photos of exterior ...
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2Pac's pornographic drawings and hand-written love letter to his girlfriend have been sold for over $21000 at auction.
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Treasure hunters in Evansville search for a diamond in the rough. Gems they seek are locked behind metal doors, and the highest bidder wins whatever is ...
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Don Lutes Jr. kept the 1943 copper penny he stumbled upon in his high school cafeteria seven decades ago in a safe behind a wall in his Massachusetts home.
Several Arizona multimillion-dollar mansions, including one owned by Randy Johnson, could soon go to the highest bidder in a live Scottsdale auction.
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Silent auctions are a mainstay of charity events, but how do they really work? Read more to learn what a silent auction is and how silent auction software can ...
Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald auctioned off three of his cars at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale Saturday.
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Get a peek at some of the collector cars that will be auctioned at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale on Sunday.
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Two dozen horses in poor condition were rescued from a local auction, and almost half had to be put down.
The most garish symbol of a convicted former Venezuelan national treasurer's greed — 14 Palm Beach County show-jumping horses seized by the feds — will ...
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Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake sprints for the end zone as time runs out in an NFL game against the New England Patriots on Dec. 9, 2018, at Hard ...
Jeff Gordon is auctioning off a 2016 Corvette C7.R with supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V8 engine to raise money for cancer research at Barrett-Jackson.
Prices of most Japanese government bonds were steady on Wednesday, supported by a pause in the stock market, but confined to a narrow range ahead of an ...
The ball is signed by Jay Hook, who pitched the entire five-hitter game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
That's a lot of money for four cars that aren't street legal.
Equine Sales Company has released its complete 2019 schedule of sales after previously announcing that the 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale will be held April 2.
The last remaining bit of 175-year-old McConnellsville business Harden Furniture is up for sale, with a sealed-bid auction due to end Feb. 1 for the company's ...
RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- An Illinois man is facing several charges after allegedly issuing several worthless checks at the Manheim Milwaukee Metro ...
Gooding & Co. will auction off some of the most expensive cars in the Valley on Friday and Saturday. We're talking multimillion dollar.
GLENPOOL, Oklahoma - The first ever medical marijuana auctioned online in Oklahoma sold to a dispensary in Oklahoma City that bid $2,200 for a half-pound.
The FCC's auction of 28 GHz spectrum officially surpassed $700 million after 35 days of bidding activity. The total amount of provisionally winning bids has ...
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For a 20th straight year, the 'Magic' is about to come alive to help Cedar Valley children and their families. The 20th annual Magical Mix Kids auction is.
While the late-rapper was serving time in the mid-90's, he drew an explicit drawing for his then-girlfriend, which is now going up for auction.
Walla Walla Community College's Institute for Enology & Viticulture will receive a $15000 grant to help support the program's “Human Capital” fund.
Woodmere estate in Ligonier, once listed for $7.5 million, sold for under $5.2 million at a no reserve auction held in Chicago.
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Arconic shares fell 25 percent on Tuesday after the aluminum products maker said it was no longer pursuing a sale of the company, following reports that it was ...
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A legendary Ford Mustang sold for a historic price at the Mecum Auctions event in Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday night when the bidding ended at $2,200,000.
Artsy presents Rago Auctions: Mid-Mod, featuring works by Eero Saarinen, Tommi Parzinger, Paul Evans, and more. In advance of the auction, browse lots and ...
Calling all fans of Ben Baller and slide sandals: Get your bids ready. StockX, the Detroit-based “Stock Market Of Things,” announced a new IPO ...
Rickey Jensen spent decades finding and collecting motorcycles and other items produced by or related to Indian-brand motorcycles. All of it, found in a locked ...
NAGPUR: In an unprecedented action, income tax department here has auctioned 18 properties, which included jewellery and immovable assets, to recover .
Two foreign mobile operators expressed interest in joining the 700-megahertz (MHz) spectrum auction unless the reserve price is based on the previous licence ...
Artsy presents Rago Auctions: Lost City Arts - 36 Years of Collecting, featuring works by George Nakashima, Harry Bertoia, Vladimir Kagan, and more.
A woman who has battled NASA for years over an artifact from the Apollo 11 moon mission has filed a new lawsuit accusing the agency of damaging the object ...
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Atonement Lutheran Church in the Heights is holding its Bounty of the Field wild game event on Saturday, Feb. 2.
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French actress Catherine Deneuve shares her YSL items in auction, including the gowns she wore to the Academy Awards in 1993 and 2000.
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In 1864, the Civil War raged on, with severe consequences both on the battlefield and in commerce. The greenback could not hold its value and Confederate.
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FORMER Gers ace Ricksen was recently reunited with his wife Veronika, 32, and his six-year-old daughter Isabella who flew in to St Andrews Hospice in Airdrie.
The national auction clearance rate across the last quarter of 2019 fell to 43.6 per cent from 62.3 per cent the previous year.
Gimmicks dominated the art scene but some technological changes have genuine potential.
If there's one thing an automaker loves, it's auctioning off the first VIN of a fancy new model for charity. Ford's the latest automaker to hitch its horse to that cart, ...
A rare example of an 1885 Trade Dollar, intended to help improve commerce with China, sold for $3.96 million in Dallas, Texas, last week. Prominent Utah ...
Honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., check out an art and wine festival or see what's going on the block at a high-end car auction.
FreshPlaza is the number one portal for the *fresh* produce industry, offering the latest news, job advertisements, pricewatching, and photo reports.
Larry Fitzgerald had three of his vehicles hit the auction at Barrett-Jackson over the weekend. So, how much did they sell for?
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The 13,000 square foot home that overlooks Roberts Bay will be sold fully furnished. In total, there is more than 20,000 square feet of covered space, both ...
This week, we have photos from Rosendin's centennial celebration and the holiday auction for Sunnyvale Community Services.
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