Posted: 2/3/2009 3:27:42 PM |
Not always fun, but potentially useful
Yes, I had fun at the Goldbergs' auction of the Naftzger middle date large cents (followed by the sale of the March Wells early dates). I encourage everyone who collects the kind of stuff that appears in auctions associated with the larger coin shows to attend live auction sessions if you can. I attend many in Baltimore, and occasionally make trips to others.
The auction company photos available on the internet and in catalogs are usually good, but are no substitute for in-hand examination during pre-sale lot viewing. The catalog descriptions frequently do not tell enough about the coins, and sometimes are not correct. It's not uncommon for me to be surprised at how nice a photo is and how bad the in-hand experience is - and vice versa.
There are other reasons to attend as well. Although some companies offer live internet bidding, complete with audio and video, the connections are not always good enough. Even with FiOS at home, I've had instances of clicking the bid button and being informed that the lot had been closed/sold. On the other end, I've been at live floor events where the auctioneer clearly delays to wait for internet bidders, and other times the internet bidders seem to be disregarded, with comments like "They should be here"!
If you do not participate in a live auction, in person or on-line, then you have no contingency option. If you have, say,
$2000 to spend, and enter absentee bids on two lots, $1000 each,
but would be willing to bid more, a problem can arise. If the first lot goes for $1100, now you have $2000 to spend, but no way to increase the second $1000 bid, which might also fail by a small amount. By being at the event, you can adjust to such situations. That was a big part of my planning for the Naftzger collection sale.
Yes, there's usually also live bidding by phone, but that seems like a hassle, and some companies only do it for high dollar lots or high pre-sale absentee bidders.
Beyond all that, being at the actual event allows you to size up the competition. I have learned to recognize when certain dealers are done bidding, allowing me to make a cut bid (bidding half way from the current bid to the next amount being sought by the auctioneer, at the risk of not being allowed to bid further on that lot). I've saved some money on a couple occasions that way, and never ended up losing a lot that sold for less than I was willing to pay.
And back to lot viewing - It's not every day that you get to hold the finest 1793 Strawberry Leaf cent, 1804 silver dollar, or 1913 Liberty nickel, for example, in your hand.
A live floor auction may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but if you're personally involved, it can be fun. And it's a worthwhile experience if you normally participate by other means.
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