Mary has been a collector for decades. She’s collected at auctions, yard sales, antique stores, while vacationing — essentially her entire adult life.
Now she’s looking for something else: buyers. And they are hard to find. What she’s been collecting for years isn’t being collected much any more by those the age of her children and grandchildren.
So much for demand for her items — and worse yet Mary is hardly the only one at her age hoping to sell. Thus we have little demand and lots of supply.
Nobody is familiar with this dynamic more than auctioneers. We have seen this trend for years where what was selling for big prices in the 1980’s and 1990’s isn’t selling for much at all here in 2015.
I’ve offered that we tend to collect items we were exposed to between the ages of 6-13, and most begin to collect in earnest between the ages of 45-65. Mary is 75 so she was 6-13 between the years of 1946-1953 and sure enough has amassed a collection from that era.
Unfortunately for Mary, auction crowds aged 45-65 here in 2015 are looking at items primarily from 1956-1983 and necessarily not from 1946-1953. As such, a set of china that adorned a dining table in 1950 which would have sold for $300 in 1995 might not realize $20 today.
Further substantiating our premise, in watching Barrett-Jackson on television the other day, there seemed to be a strong correlation between the year of the car and the age of the buyer, and that span between the birth year of that buyer and the birth year of the car seemed to be fairly consistent.
Older buyers were bidding more generally on 1950’s and early 1960’s cars and younger bidders were bidding on late 1960’s and 1970’s cars. Bidders were reacting to their pre-teen exposure to car types, styles, models, colors, etc.
And what years of cars were most valued here in 2015? Cars in the 1960’s and 1970’s were most popular — right in the heart of that 1956-1983 span for our 45-65 year-old buyers here in 2015.
Some say, of course, there are exceptions. An auction attendee just told the other day that her 20-year-old son collects Civil War memorabilia. What I offered is that he was likely exposed to the Civil War in a significant manner when he was 6-13 years old? He was indeed.
Notwithstanding our “6-13” theory, just about any auctioneer will report that market values are in constant change and there any number of personal property categories which change in regard to supply and demand and thus affect prices upward and downward.
Finally, survey virtually any 70-75-80-year-old collectors regarding what they are looking for and chances are the only thing they’re having trouble finding is buyers interested in their collectibles.
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. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.