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:

Latest Blog Post

Good Times and Favorite Finds – Part I

One of the best parts of my job is collecting stories, both from my consignors and the objects themselves. Here are a few of my favorites since I founded my business in 2011. When I originally started, I had no idea what to sell. I had people give me self-help books, old computers, used sneakers, […]

Estate Silver – Good Find or Goodwill?

Ever wonder if that old silver tray collecting dust on top of the refrigerator is worth something? One of the primary factors in determining the value of anything “silver” is whether it is made from sterling silver or if it is simply silver plate. Sterling silver consists of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper alloy, […]