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An Auction Guide


Guidelines on Selling - Index


  • Do not rely on information supplied by self-anointed 'dealers'.

  • Do consult with reputable individuals, dealers and collectors, and get some feedback. Remember 'dealers' will give you a price that is lower than market value, they need to make a profit. 'Collectors' usually offer the best price quotes. Auctions will usually give you the best price available when an 'in demand' collectable or antique item is offered for sale.

  • Pick an auctioneer that you can trust. Ask 'regulars' at auctions for references.

  • Before you decide to take items to auction, make sure these are items that you no longer need or want.

  • Make your plans known to the auctioneer approximately 3 to 4 weeks before the schedule auction. This will allow time for preparations and advertising (if he determines that certain items are worth mentioning).

  • Have your items in the original containers (if applicable), packed in an orderly fashion and in clean condition. Items in the original container and in clean and operable condition will bring better prices.

  • Let the auctioneer know if anything electronic or mechanical is in working condition. Again, the extra time you take to clean items and make sure that it works will greatly reflect in the price.

  • Take the items to auction yourself, if you can. Auctioneers will charge more money for pick-up. 

  • Remember, do not take items, that are similar to items that have been sold at the last auction. The most common mistake people make when taking items to auction is trying to duplicate the price that an item of the same type has brought. In a few instances, your item may bring a similar price. But for the most part your going to be very disappointed. 

  • The more variety you have, the better the prices

  • Be-aware of reproductions. No sure fire way exists to determine if an item(s) are reproductions. However, you can use these as guidelines: quality, quality and quality. 

  • Play the fads or trends. If everyone wants beanie babies, sell beanie babies, but moderation is the key. 

  • Try to pick an auction after pay days. After the 15th and 31st of the month. People will have more money during these periods. My preference is the first weekend of each month. 

  • Be seasonal in the items you want to sell. People do not want to buy lawn mowers or air conditioners in December or snow blowers in June. 

  • Ironically, the best money making auctions I have attended occur on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and on New Years Day. If you plan on buying these days, chances are slim that you'll get what you want (unless, of course, expense is no object). At the end of the year some dealers will get rid of their stock and start over again. 

  • Auctions held during the winter months bring in more money than auctions held during the Summer months. During the summer, competition from yard sales and flea markets lower profits. 

  • Personal items, (i.e. electric razors, old hair dryers, curlers, curling irons) and other personal hygiene products, do not sell at auction. Throw the items away. People do not buy these items at auction. 

  • Old hats (especially female) and scarves do sell at auction. Make sure they're clean

  • Old furs occasionally do well at auction if they are in good clean condition. However, beware of fanatics. I don't agree with killing animals for their fur, but I wasn't around fifty - eighty years when these animals were killed. These items do have a market value as well as a place in history. I won't say anymore about it. 

  • Do not take rusted, damaged, abused, broken, chipped, neglected and otherwise dirty toys, pots, pans, stuffed animals, glassware, toaster ovens or any other item that belongs in the garbage. Some auctions do accept these items as part of a household or storage lot (why people would pay to store this stuff amazes me) and will display it. Not only does this make the better stuff in the lot look bad, but lowers your overall payoff. Trust me, don't do it. 

  • If you have clothing, it is best to donate them to charity or have a yard sale. People do not go to auctions to buy clothes. Unless they are considered 'vintage' clothing. When I say 'vintage', I'm referring to clean older items of clothing at least 30 years old. The 60's and 70's are popular now. 

  • Do ask the auctioneer if and where he advertises. Advertising means more individuals will see the items for sale, which does have an effect on sales. 

  • When buyers are shopping the auction listings they are usually looking for specific items or in general a lot of good quality merchandise. Usually there are many scheduled auctions within a 60 mile radius on any given day. Advertising plays a key role in the development of a successful auction. If you have a 'quality' piece(s) notify the auctioneer well before he plans on running an ad. This is very important. 

  • Local auctioneers are usually generous in helping with and selling your items. If not, find another auctioneer. 

  • If you have an estate or large quantity of items for sale. Do some homework and search for the right auctioneer. This sounds simple, but it can be the difference between success and failure. Contact many auctioneers for price quotes. But remember, most auctioneers are not registered appraisers. They can tell you reasonable price estimates for their respective auction. It can vary differently. Each auction house has they're own group of 'collectors' and 'regulars'. These people are key in the success of selling items at auction. 

  • When you take a large quantity of items for sale, make a mental note of the dollar value that you like to achieve. When you show up for the auction, do not get upset if certain items are bringing less money than you thought. Some things will bring less money and others will bring more than you'd expect. This is typical. Remember the nine conditions. The total amount of goods sold is your real concern. And in my experience, you will receive more money than you were hoping to achieve. But set a realistic goal. 

  • Remember to take into account any fees or commission that the auction charges, in establishing a reasonable mental price for the items you plan on selling. 

  • If you have unusual or unique pieces for sale (old pottery, civil war items, etc..), take some time and look through books and collectors publications. These will give you an IDEA as to age and POSSIBLE value

  • Remember when using collectors books or price guides, They are exactly what the say, price guides. These publications (most) take their respective price quotes from higher, well established auction houses. Some auctions sell only certain items (i.e. depression glass), others are Antique auction houses. Prices vary differently in these situations. Specialty auctions are geared towards a certain topic or items and are designed for the collector. Antique auction houses are designed for the well established individual who has an income proportional to their taste for the finer things in life. These auction houses will bring higher prices for their respective items. 

  • Do not expect to receive bids that are comparable to prices in collectable books and magazines. As stated earlier, these publications get their prices from a variety of sources. Depending upon the location of your auction, the type of auction and the nine conditions, the prices you receive for your merchandise will vary. 

  • No one person can assure certain prices for your merchandise, unless a ridiculously low price is quoted. Quotes from auctioneers are meant as a guideline for establishing a reasonable dollar value for your items. 

  • The more information about an item(s) that you can tell the auctioneer, the better the price paid for your merchandise. Many people who attend auctions like to here the story behind items, especially anything relating to historical events. 

  • If your unsure as to what items to take to auction, consult with the auctioneer. He is the final deciding authority. Be specific, when possible, about what items you have for sale. You will be surprised at the items that may be worth money. But remember, QUALITY and CONDITION is EVERYTHING

  • Navigation is accomplished by using the main menu on the left. Just click on the red help book next to the words Auction Guide and the topics will unfold. Or you can use the index below.



Copyright Information 


  • This reference is here for informational purposes only.

  • This guide may be freely distributed providing that I have been credited as the author, and a link to this website has been placed on each chapter. Thank You.

  • I would appreciate an email if you did use excerpts from this guide. But it's not necessary.

  • Written and Copyrighted 1997-2001 by Stan Daniloski,  Earth Station 9.



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