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I’ve talked about … for lack of a better word … seductive words used in auction advertising. One such is “absolute,” where everything is presumably going to be sold, and “estate,” where everything is presumably going to be sold.

However, a phrase nearly as seductive, but maybe not seen quite as much these days is “… and many more items too numerous to mention.”

These types of phrases come in several different varieties:

warrenauction

    • And many more items too numerous to mention
    • And much more
    • And many other items too numerous to mention
    • Only a partial listing … much more
    • And many more items
    • Much more to inventory
    • We’re still digging, much more to uncover

What is the intention of such phrases? For one, most are simply an honest assessment — there is much more to list but we ran of of time (or the need) before our advertising deadline.

Or, just as important for those advertisements was to suggest to the public that a treasure hunt of sorts is in the making … and a so-called treasure hunt invokes a basic human desire — to find that treasure.

I remember walking around the morning of the auction pictured here, asking people, “How you doing?” and “Help you find anything?” Maybe 35 or so people told me, “Thanks, I’m fine …” or “Nope, I’m just looking …” One attendee said, “I’m looking for the hidden treasure!” to which I replied, “Aren’t we all?”

Simply put, a live personal property auction is more than an auction. It draws people curious about the the location, the house, who else is there, the food, and finding that hidden treasure.

This treasure-motivation is quite powerful because if that interesting or valuable item (according to them) wasn’t advertised specifically, attendees feel an extra enthusiasm about possibly buying … while continuing to hunt for more.

Many auctioneers have reported a near feverish bidding that can result between two or more bidders who have all thought they discovered the treasure. It appears possibly an increased sense of ownership (equity) developed upon the discovery, causing an intense desire to purchase.

An auctioneer once described an auction where there were around 100 Morgan and Peace silver dollars all numbered and cataloged, which they sold for about $15 each.

Then later in the garage, a box was discovered under a workbench that contained ten more Morgan and Peace silver dollars — which demanded nearly twice as much — almost $300.

After the auction, the buyer and the backup bidder both admitted to getting caught up in the bidding since each thought they were the only one “in the know,” and it was verified that these coins were essentially the same as the ones which sold earlier.

It isn’t that an auctioneer could just say, “Huge auction with lots left to inventory,” and leave it at that. There has to be enough detail to suggest a pattern or essentially “paint a picture.”

Take a look at these two excerpts from auction advertisements:

  • 13″ Handel Lamp with Slag Shade, 12″ Handel Lamp with Painted Shade, 11″ Handel Lamp with Painted Shade.
  • 13″ Handel Lamp with Slag Shade, 12″ Handel Lamp with Painted Shade, and other arts and craft lamps yet to inventory.

Which auction does a Handel lamp collector attend? Right. Which auction likely reports higher prices on the 13″, 12″ and 11″ Handel lamps? Right again.

What’s the lesson here? When any auction (live or online) lists every item, and can’t honestly say, “and there’s more …” the auctioneer can expect to receive — at minimum — somewhat less bidder participation.

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.