by Ed Barnes
First, there are no set rules for auctions. You must be able to think on your feet and adapt to change. Auctions are fun, frustrating, confusing, and they may make you mad. However, some of the best labels in my collection came from auctions. I have “lost” out on some fine labels too. My only satisfaction is the other guy didn’t “steal” it at a low price. The nice thing about mail and phone auctions is you don’t know who are the other bidders. Otherwise, many of us would have no friends.
Tip 1: Research the auction – if you are serious then buy and study the auction materials. How are you going to know what to bid on? Also, I find the printed catalog a valuable reference. I keep all of the auction materials together for easy access.
Tip 2: Ask Questions – The only bad question is the unasked question. Please ask questions early. Don’t wait until the last day and expect an answer. The auctioneer will be too busy on the last day for questions.
Tip 3: Prepare early – Don’t wait until the last minute to get a bidder number. Many auctions require you to establish yourself as a bidder several days or weeks in advance.
Tip 4: Think about your bids – It may pay not to get yourself into a bidding war too early.
Tip 5: Set Priorities – Make a list of what labels you want to bid on. Rank the lots in the order of importance. As the prices go up, you will be better prepared for the difficult decisions. This priority list will help you think on your feet when the bidding intensifies on the last day.
Tip 6: UpTo’s – Time is an advantage in phone auctions. Unless you have lots of money or cannot call back you should avoid upto’s. Upto’s allow for quick increases in the lot price.
Tip 7: Know the auction rules – Auctions are different and have different rules for various reasons. Read the rules several times and have them available for reference.
Tip 8: Accounting – Keep a list of what you bid on and the prices. This saves time when you are on the phone.
Tip 9: The plague – Don’t get auction fever. Your emotions will cost you money.
Tip 10: Problems – Notify the auction promptly if you have a problem with a lot. You should study the video or catalog carefully. Many times the condition of a label is described or observable from the auction materials.
Tip 11: Digging your Grave – Many times the “value” of a label is established at auction. Therefore, if you bid up a label and loose, you may have to pay a higher price later.
Tip 12: Don’t be Afraid – If you have the money and you want the label then by all means bid on it. You may never see the label again.
Tip 14: Set A Budget – If you set a budget then there will be no suprises when the bill comes.
Tip 15: Factor All of the Costs – Some auctions add commisions, insurance, and shipping charges. Don’t let this scare you away. Many auctions add fees.
Tip 16: Have Fun! – Auction are fun and exciting.
In conclusion, the above tips are to get you thinking. Think of an auction as a battle. You are fighting with money and the winner gets the prize!
Copyright © 1997 The Cigar-Label Gazette, P.O. Box 3, Lake Forest, CA 92630