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I’m proud to say that we (and I’m sure many other auctioneers) have never sold any personal property with a reserve — not once.

Yet, on an appointment today, after I explained the merits of selling personal property absolute, I heard:

    “That’s real valuable, so I’ll need a reserve on that.”

As we continued to walk into the family room, I kept thinking … “Need a reserve? Because that’s real valuable?”

I looked back at the McIntosh 275 50th Anniversary Tube Amp sitting on a table by a window. “So, what do you expect to get out of that tube amp?” I queried.

She glanced at the tube amp — and then at me — and said, “A lot … I paid about $6,000 for it.”

As we moved on through the balance of the home, assessing furniture, collectibles, artwork, etc., I asked another question: “You haven’t mentioned any other reserves … say on the bedroom suite, or this oil on canvas here …”

“Right, I only need a reserve on that tube amp.” she repeated, as if needing a reserve on that item was some type of state law or rule — of which I was unfamiliar — and she seemed surprised I was so ignorant concerning.

“Okay,” I replied. “Let’s sit down as I have a few more questions for you …”

Our conversation continued regarding scheduling the auction, what advertisements we would be placing and when she needed the home empty and clean. Only one issue remained: the McIntosh tube amp.

“You said because that McIntosh tube amp is valuable, it needs a reserve?” I said affirmatively. “Actually, I might suggest the opposite — because it’s valuable, it doesn’t need a reserve.”

“I’m listening.” She said cautiously.

“Valuable implies worthiness, special usefulness, and typically some degree of rarity.” I suggested. “Wouldn’t you say there’s probably not another McIntosh 275 50th Anniversary Tube Amp in any other home in this neighborhood?” She nodded in agreement.

“Because something is valuable, it’s even more apt to demand attention — interested bidders, that is — so selling something valuable at auction will more likely realize full price discovery than say something of lesser value, which demands less attention.”

“More interest means more bidders, which means more money?” She asked. “And, so I would get more for that McIntosh amp without a reserve than with one? I think I’ve got it.”

Do valuable items require reserves? It would seem not, and rather that valuable items at auction sell for higher prices without reserves.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.