Finding Treasures at Auction

Everyone likes to buy a bargain which is one reason so many people enjoy going to auctions. Along with the opportunity to spend time with old friends there is always the possibility that you’ll be able to find something interesting or valuable. Sometimes, a savvy, or lucky, auction buyer will find something valuable in unexpected places.

A lot of people overlook boxed lots. They shouldn’t. One never knows what might be hiding in the bottom of a box that appears to have nothing interesting. I have found gold rings and other valuables in box lots. Not a lot, but enough to make me dig through each box I buy.

My daughter and I were at an auction once when the auctioneer began selling box lots. I noticed there were two stone jugs in the box. They were not anything special, but stone jugs will always sell. Another buyer and I kept bidding on the box, and I finally stopped. My daughter looked at me and asked if I was done. When I said I was she began bidding and finally got the box. She then told me she had dug deeper in the box and found a third stone jug. What we didn’t know until we got home was there was a fourth stone jug in that box!

At another auction I purchased seven boxes of books for $11.00. I wished I hadn’t when I realized I had not loaded my two-wheel cart in the van and had to carry each box. However, I sold about $300.00 worth of books out of those boxes on E bay including one that sold for $175.00. Plus, I donated enough books to a non-profit to earn a tax deduction that more than paid my initial investment.

Obviously, not every box lot contains a treasure. Sometimes they have nothing in them but trash, but it always pays to check them out.

Many auctioneers will post pictures of the items they will be selling at auction along with a description of the item. This provides the buyer with an excellent opportunity to research the items before going to the sale. I love it when something a little nicer is being sold and I’m the only one who evidently researched it before the auction. I’ve bought some real nice items for very little money when that has happened. I’ve also passed up the opportunity to make a good purchase because I had failed to research some particular item. Doing your research not only helps you make great buys, it can help you not overpay for something. More than once I’ve seen someone pay more for an item when they could have bought the identical item for less money at the store.

I have found that most collector’s books are not very helpful when it comes to pricing items. I have two bookshelves filled with these books. The pictures and information found in them is great to help me identify a particular piece, but the market changes too often for the price guides in these books to be accurate.

Like many people I often look on E-bay for prices. However, it’s not enough to just look at what people are asking for their items. I always scroll down the left side of the page and click on the “Sold” box. That tells me what the item actually sold for and when it sold. If that particular item hasn’t had a sale in the past 2-3 months I assume there’s not much demand for it. I also have a better idea of what I might sell that item for which also tells me how much I can give for it.

You will find some great buys at many of the auctions you attend, but you won’t know they are great buys if you haven’t done some homework before going to the auction. Do your research and know what the market is for the items you’re interested in. Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Dig around in the box lots to see if something valuable has been overlooked.

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