AT Inbox: Is letter writing history?

Reader seeks support in fight of buyer’s premiums

Dear Editor:

I want strenuously to oppose an aspect of auction buying and selling that began only a few years ago – just how long I am not certain.

The so-called “buyer’s premium,” by which a hefty percentage of the winning bid is added to that bid, smacks of nothing short of greed. If I am wrong I am willing to be corrected. The reason it clearly appears as greed is that the “premium” is misnamed. Instead of being a “premium” that the winning bidder is given for winning the bid, he/she is actually penalized for being the top bidder. Talk about an anomaly!

In addition, it is my understanding that the auction house gets paid for its services by the percentage it charges the seller. Let’s say the seller is charged 20 percent; I do not know if this is low, high, or average. Then if the auction house adds 10 to 20 percent to the winning bid, the auction house comes away with 30 to 40 percent of the winning bid. I’ve never been in the auction business, and do not plan to be, but it would appear to be rather lucrative, regardless of overhead expenses! If I am wrong I will stand corrected.

I think this is a highly questionable practice, the equivalent of usury in interest rates, which, I believe, is illegal. One thing I know: auction firms functioned and did well long before “buyer’s premium” reared its head.

I am unwilling to be penalized for pushing a bid until I win. It appears that the only bidders who do not object to being gouged are those with considerable or boundless resources. Most of us do not fall into that category.

I may be a “voice crying in the wilderness” of auctions, but I will not knowingly attend an auction when a “buyer’s premium” is charged. Who will join the boycott?

— Robert W. Lawrence
York, Neb.

Is handwritten correspondence history?

Hi Robyn   

My life would not be the same but for the mail that graces my mailbox nearly every day!!

Old customers/friends from years in antiques and collectible who keep in touch, not with snail mail but real letters. Once involved in the country music field, a few friends are still in touch after 30 years – one who faithfully clips news from Nashville paper and sends to me constantly, and family that keeps in touch.

What is the old saying “to have a friend you have to be one” and to get letters you have to send them, too.

I credit my grandmother with my writing love. When the war broke out and cousins went to the service, she gave both my sis and I addresses and said, “Write.” Can you imagine a child of 12’s awful handwriting and scrunched down to that microfilm size? Horrors! My cousin should have gotten the Purple Heart just for enduring THAT!! 

I just sent off 8 pages to son and family in Texas even though we talk all the time. So no, it is not dead. Letter writing still lives!!  

— Betty Carson 

Holiday ornaments bring back memories

Dear Robyn,

 I was just reading my Antique Trader for January 14th and came across a request from Maxine Williams regarding wax Christmas Ornaments.
Although I am not a Christmas Ornament collector, I also have several of these ornaments.  I have Santa, Angel, Soldier and a Lamb. These belonged to my parents. My parents were married in 1938 and I believe my mother bought them sometime in the early 40s.  Perhaps they were made during or after World War II. Most likely they were purchased at Woolworth’s.

Every year I manage to get them on our tree. They bring back many childhood memories and of course I think of my parents.
 Hope you find this info useful.

— Eleanor Freyer
North Bellmore, N.Y.

From the Antique Trader Forums…

Antique Trader would like to know how you reach your customers. What marketing tools have worked best for you?

I enjoyed the editorial this week. I remember laying on the floor and looking through the big “wish book” catalogs for hours on end when I was young. In fact, I bought my first stereo from the Montgomery Wards catalog when I was a kid … complete with 8-track.
I don’t have a shop, but what marketing tactic would work on me?

Great service. Friendly, helpful, knowledgeable staff are always invaluable. If I get bad service somewhere, I don’t go back – no matter how good the product.

BTW – I still have that Montgomery Wards stereo. šŸ™‚

— Roxanne

While I believe that a combination of marketing tactics will lead to the greatest success, I wanted to mention that “blogging” has become a very effective way to communicate with prospective buyers and past customers. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, blogs or Web logs are “Web sites usually maintained by an individual or business with regular entries of commentary, descriptions or events or other materials such as graphics or video” (source: Wikipedia).

According to new research, blog readership is up over 300 percent and more than 45 percent of online shoppers are using blogs to influence their purchase decisions. Additionally, it’s a great way to give your business “personality” and build your brand.

Social media – including blogs – is typically a FREE way to engage your audience. If you aren’t currently blogging, you should certainly consider it.

— Julie L.

Candlestick clarification
(The candlestick telephone by Suzanne Meredith)

An excellent piece and most interesting read. One small correction with respect to “Hello.” This term did not originate with Alex Bell, his chosen hail was Hoy hoy from his nautical interests! The use of “hello” as a phone initial greeting was suggested by another great inventor, Thomas Edison!

— Phonefeline

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