Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reframed Auction Results

In order to make it worth while to have an auction company pick up items I had to sell, I would sometimes include valuable items I really liked. Beautiful antiques with sentimental attachments. Pieces with fond memories and interesting stories behind them that I have had for many years. I would do this to pad the sale and distribute the cost evenly and ideally pushing the average lot price higher. ORRRR, I just needed extra cash that particular month so I hastily sold off some expensive shit that I never use and was just collecting dust.... It's one or the other.

When the sale was over and those "cherished" items bring way less than I thought they should have, I felt like punching myself in the face repeating "WHY did I sell that? WHY did I sell that!!?" That just happens sometimes. The crowd didn't want it, things fall out of fashion, one buyer wanted it really bad but no competing bidders were there to run up the bids. It's not the auctioneer's fault. That's just the business.

The good news was, thanks to all the other unusual and under appreciated lots, surprisingly the sale brought 30 percent or more than I was expecting. Pieces that should have sold for 350 brought 800. Some paintings that I offered out 2 years ago for 25 bucks brought 150. THAT is the double edged sword of the auction. Pretty sweet when duds explode.

Take the good with the bad. You will get burned on a small margin of the pieces you consign if you don't put reserves on them. You should know that going in.  Reframe it and have a price range you will be happy with after the commission and other fees are deducted.
I personally don't put a reserve on anything unless the auction house suggest it. The piece is there to be sold to the highest bidder, not to be displayed and priced like it's in a shop window at the mall. It's unfair to the auction house and the buyer. Sell it. Take your lumps or show a profit and occasionally a potential massive profit. Either way, don't look back or whine about the pieces that should have brought more.

Remember, most of the world record prices in the art world were set at auction. It dictates the market and creates excitement.

If you have something to sell, be prepared to lose or jump for joyous joy joys when that ugly painting of the sailor smoking a pipe in your grandmother's hallway brings fifteen thousand dollars at auction. (You know, the painting you wanted to dump for cash at the church craft and junk sale last year but your husband talked you into letting a competent auctioneer look at it?) Don't be that person. Get an opinion.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

10 Things You Should NOT Buy for Quick Resale


I've been doing this a long time and while a lot has changed in the business, some things over the years haven't changed much at all. One of them is dealers buying and carrying stock that is hard to move. They will often buy things just because they are old or they think they are collectible. Maybe  it was because it was very cheap and the shrewd seller told them it was valuable...(Fish on!!)... I still see these hard to sell items show up in shops and markets. Now I understand that they may have gotten them from an estate buy out or in box lots from an auction, but that doesn't mean they will sell fast and they take up valuable space in the booth.
The following are a few things I found very hard to sell
1) Platinum rim dishes from the 50's and 60's.
    This stuff was elegant and lovely during it's day. That was then. Unless you have a mint condition complete set with little or no wear on it, generally, it doesn't sell quicklyThere is little to no value in micro flashed on platinum trim and most of what is out there is single pieces or partial sets. I still get calls from people trying to sell me their dishes. Unless it's a desirable name like Tiffany     or it service for 12 with all the serving pieces, avoid it.
2) Norman Rockwell prints and calendars.
    These items were produced in the millions. They are all over the internet. If you go to a completed listing of sales on EBay, you will see lots of red. Most of it is under 10 bucks and doesn't sell.
3) Bradford Exchange limited edition plates.
    Sold in over priced shops and mail order to collectors who like their plates with Dorothy and Toto or a clown transferred on the front with a limited edition number on the back guaranteeing that their     thoughtfully machine  crafted heirloom plate is number 47,89999 out of ONLY 250,000,000,000,000,000.  Well, maybe not, but they produced these by the boat load and I've seen dealers struggle to get five bucks for        plates that originally sold for fifty.  A recent search of completed sales on EBay of just plates there were 16,368. Most unsold. When items are abundant, buy CHEAP, I mean super cheap, even better, completely avoid     them. I've passed  on these plates for 50 cents.
4) Single pieces of silverplated common flatware.
    Rogers Brothers. A name you will see on lots of silver plate. Common patterns and available in most thrift stores and antique malls can be picked up for around a quarter each. Serving pieces are a better buy if all of the     plate is intact and boxed sets with service for 8 or more in clean condition is a better investment.
5) Silverplated miscellaneous tea service pieces.
    Staying with the silver plated theme, try to avoid over paying for common single tea service pieces. An odd sugar, a plain teapot with wear through on the plate, a damaged footed tray, a less than fancy 1970s plated         waste bowl. Unless it is Victorian, covered with grape vine, cupids, or a desirable pattern, most of the odd pieces don't sell quickly. Stick with the good patterns and the big wonderful impressive shiny silver plate.
6) Beanie Babies.
   ... Glorified dog toys.
7) Rocking chairs and single dining side chairs.
    "Sittin on tha front porch huggin mah piller in Gramps ol' rocken churrrr" 
   Charming but the damn things just don't sell. I've had one rocking chair in 20 years that sold for 250 bucks only because it was a decent Mission oak chair. All of the other 1950s maple, turn of the century Shaker style,  period Victorian platform rockers or Hitchcock rockers eventually went to auction just to get rid of them. Some dealers may disagree with me, and I know a couple, but even they wouldn't buy my rocking chairs for 20  bucks. Oh the irony 
8) Fenton milk glass.
    I like Fenton art glass. Great company still in business that produces decorative hand made glass for the masses. Some of the Crest lines are very popular with collectors. However, the milk glass doesn't sell  very fast. There is tons of it out there. Rose bowls, candlesticks, console bowls and much more. If you like the milk glass, try to stick with bigger and harder to find pieces like epergnes and pitchers.
9) Movie cameras and projectors
   8 mm movie cameras, movie projectors from the 50's and 60's are hard to resell. They are not quite decorative enough to put in your office or living room. They always look like they belong in the media center or school    library. Don't confuse these common 8 mm cameras and movie projectors with the Mitchell movie cameras of the 30s and 40's. BIG difference in price and desirability.
10) Floor model sewing machines
     Often seen in yard sales and thrift store over priced. The owners like to brag how their mother used it in the 1960s and it STILL WORKS! Doesn't matter. Most of them don't bring squat. They are a piece of heavy, cumbersome, ugly furniture disguised as a disguised sewing machine.  The table top portable models like the Singer Feather weight sell for more money and much quicker than a Kenmore in a table. Even the vintage Singer treadle sewing machines with fancy open iron work base, tiger oak veneer flanked with drawers don't bring what they are worth and often less than a good table top machine.