Auction buying tips – the old ways are often the best

Almost every collector ends up attending auctions, now and then, bidding on treasures for their collections. While eBay is the “in” way to seek antiques, nothing can beat the thrill of a traditional auction. Here are a few tips that will help you to get more out of your auction experience.

Don’t Be Cheap:
Auctions are great places to find bargains, but don’t be too penny-pinching. If you’re too cheap, you may be left out in the cold. Items at auction are often sold on a choice basis; the high bidder has the choice of purchasing as many items in a lot as he or she wishes for a certain price each. Let’s say you are is interested in a particular box of books. If the first choice of books went for $10, the next may go for $8, the next $5, and so on. It is tempting to allow the bid to drop, but it can be unwise. Someone may well grab the very box of books you want. I know; it’s happened to me. How do you think I learned not to be cheap?

Decide what you are willing to pay and then bid up to that amount. If your heart is set on something, don’t wait around for a chance to buy it cheaper.

Keep Quiet When Something Rare Appears:
Sooner or later you will spot something rare and valuable at an auction. They say “loose lips sink ships” and it is certainly true in this situation. The second you start talking about it, the advantage is lost. Others now know the piece is rare and may begin bidding. Talking about such a piece before buying it can often result in its loss.

What To Do With The Extra Junk:
Go to an auction and within an hour you’ll hear, “I had to buy this whole box of other juck to get what I wanted.” The “extra junk” is a common complaint at auctions, but actually this junk can help to finance a collection.

At one auction, I spotted a beautiful Empire side chair. Much to my dismay the auctioneer grouped the chair with a whole line of other chairs and small tables and sold them as a lot. I purchased the whole lot for $25, an incredible steal and well under what I was willing to pay for the chair alone. I was approached by folks who were interested in other pieces in the lot, and by the time I left I had my chair for free and a profit of $15 besides.

Stay Late
Some of the best bargains at auctions occur at the end of the sale when everyone is tired and most of the crowd has gone home. The auctioneer will start grouping things together in larger lots. Auctiongoers with tired wits let bargains slip by, and if you stay to the end, you may be able to pick up some bargains. A Depression glass cookie jar that would have sold earlier for $60 may be available for $45 near the end of the sale. The old blue crock may be pushed together with other old kitchen pieces and sell for well below the usual price. Sometimes there won’t be any bargains, but often staying until the end of the sale can be worth the wait.

Don’t Get Discouraged:
It is easy to get discouraged when you attend a few auctions and come up empty-handed. But fear not! An auction or two down the road will make up for it all when you find yourself making trips to the car, straining under the weight of goodies you found.

Auctions can offer good buys and even incredible bargains, but not every auction yields bargains. Some don’t even offer reasonable prices. Quite a few will have nothing of interest at all. Overall, however, auctions are a lot of fun and a great source for antiques and collectibles. Like many, I frequent eBay on a daily basis, but there is nothing like the thrill of a good old-fashioned auction. A traditional auction is a lot more fun than browsing for antiques on a computer. Sometimes, the old ways are the best.