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We were prompted to write an article concerning bibles and flags at auction in 2014 after a number of auctioneers told us “We don’t sell bibles or flags at our auction,” or in a few cases, “It isn’t right to sell a bible or flag at auction.”

That aforementioned article can be read here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/bibles-and-flags-at-auction/

Relatedly, a well-known online auction platform published earlier this year that effective June 7, 2018, they would no longer allow bids to be placed on Nazi, neo-Nazi, Ku Klux Klan or White supremacist memorabilia in all forms, all Class III weapons, “Assault-style” semi-automatic rifles, Bump stocks and Rhino horns.

Here is that online auction platform’s statement:

At Invaluable, we pride ourselves on operating with a strong set of values. We maintain guidelines to ensure that we are promoting high levels of trust, respect and adherence to the law in keeping with our company’s mission.

As such, we recently evolved Invaluable’s policy toward hate-related materials to add additional detail, clarity and scope. This policy is now part of Invaluable’s Marketplace Standards. Prohibited items under our Marketplace Standards include the following:

Nazi, neo-Nazi, Ku Klux Klan or White supremacist memorabilia in all forms
All Class III weapons
“Assault-style” semi-automatic rifles
Bump stocks
Rhino horns

Please note, this will not prevent an entire catalog from loading and the policy will only impact relevant lots on Invaluable and AuctionZip. These items would still appear on your respective Connect sites if and when they are uploaded.

Effective June 7, 2018, online bidding will be disabled for any specific items in violation of this policy on Invaluable and AuctionZip. For comprehensive guidelines surrounding Invaluable Marketplace Standards, visit our resource hub.

It is no surprise that this decision involved “… attorneys and insurance providers hold[ing] a different perspective based on the risk/reward and return on investment [than allowing these items to sell on the platform.]” All companies are well advised to make decisions mindful of risk versus reward — including auctioneers.

What we find somewhat interesting is that there remains virtually no outrage concerning auctioneers refusing to sell bibles and/or flags, but considerable indignation regarding an “auctioneer” refusing to sell certain types of firearms or Nazi items. Aren’t auctioneers free to decide what they sell or don’t sell? Aren’t auction platforms free to decide …?

For that matter CVS no longer sells cigarettes … Bank of America has stopped lending to some gun manufacturers. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, Kroger, L.L.Bean and REI have stopped selling certain firearms …

It would seem auctioneers are certainly free to sell (or not sell) anything they want and stop using any online auction platform due to their policies, terms, commission structure or any other reason; likewise online auction platforms are free to sell (or not sell) anything they want and have any certain policies, terms, commission structures or other positions.

We’ll continue to analyze online platforms … but ultimately they get to choose their business model — no different than any auctioneer who gets to choose his or her business model, correct?

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.