Archive for February, 2014

To Auction or Not to Auction… That is the Question

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

Doll DressI love auctions. There’s nothing more exciting that to see something you’re selling zoom beyond your expectations. On the flipside, it’s also quite possible for prices fall far short of what you had hoped. So how, when, and why would you choose auctions over selling items with a fixed price?

Auctions can either be conducted locally by a licensed auctioneer or online, with websites such as eBay or uBid being the most popular. A local auctioneer can typically handle anything from a single item to a large estate and can make arrangements to either haul everything off or hold the auction on-site. Most online auction sites allow users to auction items themselves, which may be preferable if you’re the do-it-yourself type.

If you’re in a bind for time or simply have a large collection, then an auction may be the best way to sell your items quickly and efficiently. Depending on the size and the scope of what you want to sell, an auction can be arranged and items sold within as little as a few weeks.

If you have something particularly rare or valuable, an auction can be a great way to bring the best price for your item. As the items are usually advertised in advanced with a limited window to place a bid, auctions will oftentimes bring out the competitive nature of serious collectors… and their large check books! (See the doll dress in the photo for reference.)

MeccanoWhile there are a number of positives attributes of auctioning off items, the biggest negative factor is less control than one desires over the final price, which can result in items selling for less than expected. Local auctioneers will typically sell to the highest bidder without a minimum or “reserve” price (I once sold a large lot of furniture through a local auctioneer. He nearly forgot about a huge antique dining table and sold it towards the end of the night for a mere $20, which made me sick to my stomach…) Formal auctions will oftentimes have estimated sales prices published in their auction catalogues and will start bidding at 1/2 of the lowest estimate. Occasionally, items may only receive a single bid at this opening price.

Online auctions can start as low as $0.01. I’ve sold more items at $0.99 than I care to remember (such items are typically low quality or obscure). If you’re unsure of the demand for an item online, I’d recommend either starting the auction at a higher price or listing the item at a fixed price instead.

Ultimately, things are only worth what other people are willing to pay for them. Sometimes, it’s a good surprise. Other times, it’s not. But it’s always fun and exciting.


The original article can be found in the March 2014 issue of Southern Neighbor available here:

A Basic Guide to Collecting

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

I’ve had the privilege to work with a number of collectors since I started my business and also spend a lot of time reading about different collecting trends. If you or a friend / family member has a collection or some sort or perhaps just want to start one, here are a few basic guidelines for a good collection.

Collect what you like. Owners of great collections have a passion for what they collect. They can usually tell you anything that you want to know about their collection, including the history of the item(s), variations, errors, etc. If you collect solely with the hope that your collection is an investment, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment down the road.

Do your homework.  If you’re serious about building a good collection, you should learn about your subject as much as possible. Which pieces are considered entry level and which are advanced? What’s an acceptable level of damage or wear? Do reproductions or fakes exist and if so, how do you tell the difference? Where are the best places to get good deals?

Buy the best quality that you can afford. Unless you plan to collect cars, then most collections can be started with a relatively modest amount of money, perhaps with as little as a few dollars. Over time, as your collection grows, you may find yourself shifting from quantity to quality, which typically means greater expense may be involved with each purchase. I know of one local coin collector who has told me he’s at the point of adding a new coin to his collection every 1-2 years, due to the particular quality and expense associated with his collection.

Keep the box. If whatever you collect comes with specific packaging or a box, be sure to keep it, ideally in the same condition that you originally received it. Boxes and packaging materials can add 10%-30% to the final value of a collectible and can sometimes be harder to find than the collectible itself. A vintage Barbie box is worth $25-$50, a vintage Rolex box may sell can sell for $100 or more, and a 1950s Hubley Atomic Disintegrator toy cap gun box may fetch up to $400 (without the cap gun!)

Pass it on to other collectors. Whether you spend a few years or a lifetime putting together your collection, at some point, it will be time to pass it along. If family members or friends don’t share the same level of enthusiasm for your collection, don’t burden them with having to deal with it themselves. Take the time to find a good outlet to either sell or donate your collection to others who will appreciate and take care of the items as you did.


The original article can be found in the February 2014 issue of Southern Neighbor available here:

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