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Absolute Auctions - Gold Mines or Fools' Errands?

Updated: Apr 23, 2022

I'm always helping people pick their jaw up off the floor when I tell them my main selling model is the "absolute auction" an auction that starts at $1.00 without any reserves, no safety net.

Here's a typical conversation:

  • Drop Jaw Joe: Why on earth would you want to sell valuable items for $1?!

  • Me: I don't, the auctions START at $1.00 then the pool of bidders compete during the timed auction until the item is sold to the highest bidder at the end of the auction.

  • Drop Jaw Joe: Isn't that risky?

  • Me: Not for the right sellers. For example, I buy in large lots. Usually, I purchase entire estate contents or curated collections. The absolute auction principle dictates 20% of auction lots will sell for high prices, 60% land somewhere in the middle, 20% sell low. I'm the right seller in this situation. Since I've been buying antiques & vintage items since the late 1970s, I know the market. Well-bought is half sold as they say. If you're not attached to the items, want to sell a lot, fast, then absolute auctions are a great choice!

  • Drop Jaw Joe: But what happens if you sell a gold watch for a dollar?

  • Me: If you were bidding in an auction, would you bid more than a dollar for a gold watch? The watch will sell for a dollar, ONLY if there is no competition at the auction. Seeding an auction with interesting items, working with a great platform, and ensuring adequate promotion, gives me confidence that I'll have ample competition for my items.

  • Drop Jaw Joe: But what happens if it DOES only get bid up to a dollar?

  • Me: I sell it, that's the contract I've made.

  • Drop Jaw Joe: I don't want to sell my items for a dollar.

  • Me: I understand. I will offer you $3,500 for these three rooms full of your collectibles.

  • Drop Jaw Joe: Deal

  • Me: Deal

And that sums the situation I've come across time after time when purchasing historic estate contents and collections of antiques, jewelry, etc. There is no "one size fits all" rule when it comes to selling valuables.

At the time this post was written, the 1896 Morgan Silver Doller was up for bid at one of our absolute auctions. If the auction is still live, you can bid! If it's ended by the time you read this post, you can see what it sold for. To bid or see the result, just click on the coin and decide for yourself, gold mine or fools' errand?

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