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Friday 19 August 2016

Auction Records - calling my Auction House Readers

Is this a record?

The Philatelic Services of Finland company (Suomen Filateliapalvelu Oy) held its 98th auction today, an Internet-only auction. I had 150 Lots for sale and so I was watching closely. I was also buying. When I looked at the Results, I noticed

Lot 212 Start price 10 €   Hammer Price  3068 €
Lot 244 Start price 5 €  Hammer price 1011 €

You can still have a look at if you want to see what these lots contained. You will smile :)

But does the Result on Lot 212 set a record? The Hammer price is 307 times the Start price
Do any of my auction house colleagues recall a Result which beats that?

Of course, there are lots of reasons why Start price and Hammer price sometimes differ x 10 or even x 20. For example, an auctioneer with a sense of humour may know that a particular lot will attract a lot of attention. So it's fun to start it at 10 when you know it will sell for 100. But time in the auction room is precious and an auctioneer can't really waste time just to have a bit of fun. On the Internet, it's different - there is no real-time auctioneer at work so you can start at 10 and can indeed sit back and enjoy the fun.

Some things have no known market value, often because they are obscure. So an auctioneer has to start with a cautious estimate.

Some things are simply not understood by an auction house describer. There is one successful auction house in the UK which basically prices everything in the 100 - 300 range and leaves the buyers to work out the real value. You don't need much expertise to put everything into a 100 - 300 range.It's not very efficient of time in the auction room, but it's the model they have adopted and it seems to work.

Some things are understood  but there may still be uncertainty. I remember once doing some work for Heinrich Koehler. I had ten single Lots taken from a collection on which I put start prices of 1000 to 2000 €, but I said to Koehler: Look, one or two of the ten will go up but I don't know which ones so I have put them all in this 1000 - 2000 category. Well, one lot went to 36 000 and one to 52 000. But the others stayed closed to my Estimates. In the case of the 52 000 item, some of the uncertainty was caused by the printed company name on an envelope.It definitely added a premium, but I didn't know how much of a premium it would add. In the end, I think it contributed a lot to that 52 000 figure.

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