Buying At Auction: 6 Hints to Make You a Successful Bidder

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.

To elaborate:

(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

In The News:

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Funds plugged in as £2bn JP Morgan grid auction electrifies bidders  Telegraph.co.ukHomegrown funds are squaring up to Chinese investors including the Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing in the final round of a £2bn battle to buy one of the UK's ...
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India To Auction Transmission Projects Worth $5 Billion To Support RE Expansion  CleanTechnicaTo ensure that the rapidly expanding renewable energy capacity and planned auctions of large-scale solar and wind energy projects have the adequate ...
Thousands of items from HPD evidence room up for auction  Honolulu Star-AdvertiserThousands of items from the Honolulu Police Department's evidence room are up for auction. HPD amassed the items from various criminal cases over the years ...
Slash’s Top Hats, Guitar Case, MTV Moonman Highlight Ex-Wife’s ‘Uncoupling Auction’  Rolling StoneIconic items from Slash's Guns N' Roses tenure – including the guitarist's top hat, coffin-shaped guitar case and his 1988 MTV Video Music Award for Best New ...
US Treasury yields tick higher as investors await economic data, auctions  CNBCLong-term U.S. government debt yields snapped their recent streak of declines Tuesday following a steep fall over the past week.
Rowan Atkinson to sell his Mercedes 500E – again  The TelegraphIt turns out Rowan Atkinson's classic Mercedes 500E is so good he's selling it twice. The actor and supercar aficionado is putting the silver saloon car up for ...
Sydney auction clearance rate hits 12-month high in March  Domain NewsSydney's auction market has posted its strongest result in a year but the number of properties going under the hammer is markedly down on this time last year.
Notre Dame auction at the click of a mouse  Lowell SunTYNGSBORO -- If you are a baseball fan, enjoy stunning, high-quality jewelry, or wish to bring a group of friends to a free, private wine-tasting, the Academy of ...
Artist auctions off photo of dad's underwear for $1,300  Fox NewsEccentric artist Dominic Allan - who goes by the name Dominic of Luton - photographed his dad's underwear drying on a radiator for a work he has titled “My ...
Mystery Owner Auctions $26 Million of Wines in Hong Kong  BloombergQuint(Bloomberg) -- A wine collection of almost 17,000 bottles from a single cellar -- including grand cru Burgundies and first-growth Bordeaux -- is expected to bring ...
Pogba auctions World Cup-winning boots for charity  Sport24The football boots with which Paul Pogba effectively won the World Cup for France last year are to go under the hammer.
Most MISO zones clear planning auction at $2.99/MW-day  Utility DiveMost zones in the Midcontinent ISO cleared a recent annual capacity auction at $2.99/MW-day, according to a report on the 2019/2020 Planning Resource ...
Auction of leases needs more study, claims Congress  Times of IndiaPANAJI: All India Congress manifesto committee convener Rajeev Gowda on Saturday said the auction of mining leases was an issue that needed to be stud.
Online luxury real estate auctions aim to shake up sales  BNNBloomberg.caAn online auction for a luxury home in Abbotsford, B.C., is drawing attention for its novel approach, which some observers say has potential to inspire new sales ...
Public auctions to be held in Greenfield, Springfield  Berkshire EagleSullivan & Sullivan Auctioneers will be holding municipal auctions in Greenfield April 29 and in Springfield May 7. The Greenfield auction takes place at noon at ...
A special auction  Deccan HeraldEighteen years after his death, Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde (1924-2001), one of India's modern masters, must have turned in his grave. On March 26, 2019, one of ...
FCC announces 5G spectrum auction and $20 billion investment for rural broadband access  TechSpotForward-looking: The race for 5G is on and America certainly doesn't want to be left behind. The FCC and President Trump announced two proposals: A ...
'Under stress': One in five auctions pulled  The Australian Financial ReviewHomeowners in Sydney are increasingly withdrawing properties before the big auction day while in Melbourne, homes are selling for prices below their ...
Three-day auction of rare wine in Hong Kong brings in US$29.8 million  South China Morning PostA wine collection of almost 17,000 bottles from a single cellar -- including grand cru Burgundies and first-growth Bordeaux -- has sold for US$29.8 million at ...
ACV Auctions triples year-over-year sales  PRNewswireBUFFALO, N.Y., April 2, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- ACV Auctions Inc., the leading dealer-to-dealer, online wholesale automotive marketplace, hit an all-time high ...
Texas ‘Castle’ Heads to Auction  Mansion GlobalA European castle-style home outside of Dallas will go under the hammer at the end of April with a $2.5 million reserve. Located in Southlake, Texas, the home ...
National Auction Market Preview - 31 March  CoreLogic Property NewsThis week, all of the busiest capital city suburbs for auctions are in Melbourne. Cheltenham tops the list with 15 homes scheduled for auction, followed by ...
Big names from art world in the picture for Easter auction  Irish ExaminerBallyconneely in Connemara is the venue for an Easter Sunday art and antique auction at 2pm tomorrow. Dolan's art auction house will offer nearly 400 lots at a ...
A cap for $312,000 tops Lou Gehrig memorabilia auction  CTPostDERBY — Bob Ellis' eyes were glued to his computer monitor at 11 p.m. Feb. 23. For sale via the internet was a New York Yankee cap from somewhere around ...

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