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Buying Collectibles and Memorabilia at Auction

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 23 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Auction Collectible Auction Bidding

As the collectible auction market continues to spiral it raises a lot of questions for bidders. After all, the more someone is willing to bid, the higher the expectations for a similar item the next time, and so the spiral carries on. It happens largely because new people, who sense the chance of profit, enter the market, and push prices up.

Collectibles remain, and are likely to stay, a hot market, one that appeals to people with money to spare, and an eye either for investments or simply to own items that remind them of their childhood or music and movie memorabilia (probably the most popular collectible fields).So when you’re looking to bid on a collectible, what should you do?

Why Do You Want It?

Why are you bidding on the item? Is it for your personal collection, or do you plan of putting it up for auction in one, three, or five years with the intention of making a profit? Those are the questions you need to ask yourself first, because they strongly affect the way you bid. If you’re looking to make a profit in time, then it’s in your interests that prices keep rising. In that regard, bidding high – at least within your budget – should be no problem. However, if it’s for your own collection, then you obviously want to obtain it for the lowest possible price.

When Should You Bid

The major collectibles come up at specialised auctions, where competition is rife. That means plenty of bidding, especially on the most desirable lots. Unless you have a raging desire for that Eric Clapton-owned guitar or a dress once worn by Marilyn Monroe, and some very deep pockets, you’re better off avoiding these. Before you bid on any item, be very aware of its value. That involves research, but without it, you’re not going to know what you’re doing. What have similar items gone for at auction recently? How have prices risen over the last two years?

Answers to those questions will give you a good idea of how high you should go on a bid. Remember, other bidders will have done their homework, too, so don’t think you’re the only one with knowledge. Obviously, you can’t know everything about everything. Focus on one area; learn all you can about it. Within music memorabilia, for instance, pick a decade, or even a band, and discover what’s available, how much it’s gone for – forewarned is forearmed.

The Essence of Bidding

The essence of bidding is knowing when to stop. In a market like collectibles, where every item is rare, it’s easy to become carried away. Be careful and in control. Set an upper limit for every item and don’t be tempted to go past it. Never open the bidding. If no one else bids, the auctioneer will lower the starting price, and you might be able to obtain the lot more cheaply. To be fair, in the major collectible market, that’s unlikely, but at times you can be lucky, especially on minor items.

For some things, eBay can be a good source, especially low level items like 45 rpm records, some LPs, and so on. For other items, beware of anything that can’t be verified, such as autographs.

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