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Our question today is … could an auctioneer sell so much of one type of property that his sales are deemed generally “market value?” In other words, if I as an auctioneer sell virtually all the marbles, wine, hatpins or Coca-Cola memorabilia in the United States, then what I’m getting for — as an example — a certain Coca-Cola sign — would be seen as market value?

It seems reasonable that if 531 such signs have been sold by one auctioneer for prices ranging from $2,500 to $4,000, then I can expect about $3,250 for mine? I think people would assume such. But, we said one auctioneer … so what if another auctioneer had one to sell? $3,250 here also? Maybe not.

This one auctioneer focusing on Coca-Cola memorabilia might have a certain group of buyers — repeat customers — who know his market. A different auctioneer might well attract a different buyer pool — and thus a different price. In this example, would you be surprised if this other auctioneer got $6,500 for this sign?

This is not just possible, it’s real. I’m not suggesting it’s necessarily bad or good, but I think it’s important to know. While the Internet has leveled many markets, some have been leveled within one single auctioneer’s purview. Unfortunately, “leveling” intrinsically isn’t maximizing price, and rather managing (lowering) seller expectations.

Part of the problem here is simply a supply/demand issue. Our one auctioneer has sold over 500 of these signs — probably way too many when contrasted with demand. On the other hand, another market with another auctioneer might appear to have far less supply coupled with more demand and thus a higher price.

Further, are some auctioneers marketing to the same people all the time? “We have a database of 15,000 bidders [buyers] we email for every auction …” If you’re selling Coca-Cola memorabilia to those 15,000 people over and over again — does demand wane? It seems it would. Isn’t a better buyer one who hasn’t ever bought one before?

What are auctioneers all looking for? It would seem bidders/buyers who aren’t cognizant of the market … and thus if the auctioneer is making the market, those buyers aren’t there. Who hasn’t had that onsite auction where the neighbor-who’s-never-been-to-an-auction-before starts bidding? Does he or she pay more? Does she garner surprise from other experienced bidders? Countless auctioneers can recall such a circumstance.

We recently wrote about a 1965 Chevrolet Impala which sold at an onsite auction in 2013 for $76,150 and about 6 years later in a major collector car auction for $27,500. That complete story is here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/01/14/1965-chevrolet-impala-sells-at-auction-again/.

While there were several factors in play with this 1965 Chevrolet, it also demonstrates as we noted the power of a special event auction occurring just once versus a regularly scheduled collector car auction with an established marketplace.

Finally, let’s say you have one of these Coca-Cola signs … do you consign it to the “Coca-Cola auctioneer” or to another auctioneer who will market in and more importantly outside of the Coca-Cola marketplace and get you more in proceeds? It’s not a guarantee, but it happens all the time.

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.