Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ripe Market for Picking Treasure at Local Auctions and House Sales

1870 Liberty & Vienna Railroad Stock Certificate sold on eBay for $152.50

This market is ripe for picking and you, members of the 31 Club, are making my mouth water from the lists of auctions and estate sales you send me to review. Everyday these lists are coming in, and I just wish I was there to enjoy the feasts you are partaking of. In these markets, if you spend your money wisely it will be a great winter for you. I do have to caution you, however. In your enthusiasm, don't fail to do your homework and attend previews. Missing any damage on pieces can be quite costly and can take a large percentage of your profits.

I took a look at an auction list one member sent me and wanted to hop on a plane to join him. There was a wide variety of items represented in this auction, but I quickly narrowed it down to under twenty. I figured if I were in attendance and only purchased half of these twenty items my night would have been well spent with good gains.

There were some wonderful items on the list but nothing that would draw a great crowd. This is the type of auction that you might sneak up on and find a true bargain. There were two prints by Jessie Wilcox Smith and these made me think of the time my friend, “Little Jimmy” purchased what was supposed to be a print, for $40, and then resold it sold within a few months at Treadway Gallery in Chicago for over $22,000 because it turned out to be an original.

Just to give you a feel for this auction, there were prints, books, toys (with many Hot Wheels), jewelry, rugs and one lot of over 100 piano rolls. I pick out the piano rolls as one of the items I’d bid on. Why? Well, if you were with us in the beginning of 31 Club, you might remember that one of our very first members made her first $80 investment on several boxes of vintage phonograph needles she found at a garage sale. Many would have thought that was a foolish purchase until they saw the money she made selling them on eBay. Those needles brought in over $800. When you buy in bulk, it will often pay off very well, as it did for Cecil on the lot of vintage Railroad Certificates he purchased.

One of the best buys that I have ever enjoyed was when I purchase over 500 Royal Doulton items at one time. The $15,000 I paid seemed to be a huge amount of money, but when you spread it out over all the items I had definitely paid less than the 25% rule we go by. So if the average price was $30, and I made at least four times my money, you do the math. I think you’ll see why I was smiling as I left with my truck full of Doulton.

At local auctions and house or estate sales, be sure to keep your eye on items that have a high value in the market place, but in these selling venues, won't bring the value they truly deserve. This is when you step up to the plate. And remember our Associates Program if you find high quality items that are beyond your budget. Members who are using this program when spot high quality items are able to make money when they call the Club and we negotiate, purchase, and resell it. I have found that at local auctions and house sales, most people have a pain threshold of about $1,000 and when the price goes above that, the crowd quickly dwindles. This is the game you want to play as soon as possible.

The office doors are open again, so I’ll be waiting for those questions and suggestions that will help make this one of the largest enterprises around.

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