We’ve been true to our word about keeping our pledge of finding new content each weekday (and some weekends) and that is thanks in no small part to the news that comes out of the catalog auctions.
Seven or eight years ago, there were only a few. Now I think there are close to thirty of what could be called "major" auction houses. Some only have two or three auctions a year. Others do them a little more often. It’s clearly part of how the hobby has evolved, probably having as much to do with some of the staggering prices some of those first big auctions got. When you have a full-color catalog, expensive pieces, a live auction format and maybe a little history behind those pieces, some media attention follows. That helped drive prices and feed the beast.
Non-eBay auctions are now the way to go for a lot of big ticket items. They get placed in a catalog and enjoy a 14 or 21-day active run instead of the 3, 5 or 7-day showcase on eBay. They sometimes include live bidding but all accept phone and internet bids. The downside is the fees charged to both buyer and seller but sometimes the seller comes out with a better profit because of the attention and length.
The trick, of course, is knowing what items to consign and what items to simply put on eBay for a lesser cost. Auction houses like to say they have something for everyone and while that may often be true, the fees attached make it a tough call on some pieces that might not get as much action. Sometimes eBay can provide a final price in the same ballpark.
Typically, a card or piece of memorabilia that can reasonably expect a lot of interest and a final price of over $5000 might be better off in the hands of an auction company. Yet some cards that are worth less do better in a catalog thanks to their association with other exceptional cards. It’s quite a crapshoot, really, and not an easy decision for someone trying to sell.
The most critical element, it seems, is the job the auction house does with your item. Do some research. Check the selling prices of some of the items in a company’s last couple of auctions. Did pieces like yours do as well as expected or better? Did you–as a passionate collector–receive a copy of that catalog? If you’re an SCD subscriber, you should get one. Catalogs should be widely distributed. Tens of thousands should be out there. Ask the company to validate their distribution numbers. And what do those catalogs look like? Are they easy to read and well organized? Or is it just page after page of "stuff" with fine print? There should be at least relatively well defined sections to make it easier for buyers to find your items.
When you called the auction company, what was your reaction to how they treated you? Were you just one of the ‘flock’ or did they seem to genuinely care about your item and attracting your business, willing to answer questions and help in your endeavor?
Your choices were once limited but now with competition for consignments quite fierce, there’s no need to settle for a company you may not feel right about. If you’re convinced a catalog is the way to go, take your time and make a choice you feel comfortable with.