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Live Auctions are great for collectors and resellers alike

Updated on October 28, 2014

Attending live auctions offer opportunities for those looking to resell items for profit and provide great acquisitions for collectors.

Most people have attended a live auction at one time or another. These are auctions with an auctioneer at a physical location and take bids from bidders there. Auctions can be quite exciting and for serious collectors of a certain item/s are essential for their hobby. I attend auctions regularly as both a collector and reseller and try to attend one at least every two weeks. I don't use live online auctions because I must be able to physically see the item to determine the condition of an item and if it is indeed an authentic item which is hard to do sometimes just by photos. I collect marbles and slag glass so I am always on the lookout for auctions to further my collecting and also looking for items with a good profit margin for resell. There have been times I have bought an item for less than 20 dollars and have resold it for over 100 dollars. I will go into further details on various auction related information below.

All photos pictured were taken by me.

Different Types of Auctions

I will condense this into a brief description of various types of auction. Some auctions can cross into various categories or be hybrids. Others may label auctions differently than myself so bear in mind this is how I categorize them.

Storage: You bid on foreclosed storage units from those who haven't paid their storage bills, etc. These used to be good for resellers but due to popularity of shows such as Storage Wars the attendance of these auctions have increased greatly and what people are paying can be quite a bit more than what the items are worth. The auctioneer cuts the lock of the unit and you can look in but not enter or touch anything. Be warned most of these units are junk and it's a lot of work disposing of the items. Mold and dust can be involved along with other hazardous chemicals so you will need gloves, flashlight and a dust mask.

Online auctions: These can be on large sites like Ebay or various auction websites. You look at photos and descriptions of items for sale and you place a bid. After paying for the items they are either shipped to you or you might have to pick them up.

Government auctions: Often these are seized property auctions and generally have electronics, automobiles, etc. Some of these auctions require a dealer/tax id and not all are open to the general public. Some of these allow online bidding as well. I do not attend these types of auctions.

Household/Collectible/Personal Property: These are the auctions I attend. They are held by an auctioneer at a physical location. Sometimes they are at people's homes but often at a regular location. You register on site and are given a bidder number which you use to place bids on items. It is generally a piece of cardboard, paddle, etc. Most of these have concessions on the premises and generally have a mix of collector's and reseller's. Generally a wide variety of items are offerred up for auction from a few different consignments. Most of the ones I attend have everything from books, glassware, furniture, tools, toys and various other antiques and primitives.

Know the terms of an auction beforehand and do not overspend by getting caught up in the moment.

Depending on the state you live in you will pay the state sales tax rate on the final purchase price. I live in Michigan and our sales tax is 6%. Often auctions will have buyer's premiums of 5-10 %. This means that you will have to pay in addition to the sales tax the buyer's premium as well. On high dollar items this can add up so make sure you figure that in to your bidding. Find out beforehand what payment types are accepted and fees involved. All auctions I have attended take cash and most accept credit cards but some have some extra fees involved. Some auctions take personal checks but may have a disclaimer against checks from those out of the local area or from another state. Be prepared to have your ID/Driver's License with you because before getting a bidding number you will have to register at the auction and they must see your ID and write down the information. Do not get caught up in a bidding war because if you do not know the value you can get to resell an item it can cut down on your profitability. Usually those attending auctions and bidding on a certain group of items are collector's and since they are not resellers bid on how much they want the item which often can be more than the item's worth.

Collectible and identification guides on Amazon - I own a few of these books as well

Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2012: America's Bestselling Antiques Annual (Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price List)
Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2012: America's Bestselling Antiques Annual (Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price List)

I own a few Kovels' books but not this edition. Between this and Antique traders you can pretty much cover all items.


Tips on auctions

You must arrive early to inspect the merchandise. This gives you ample time to research an item's value and its condition. Wireless internet such as on an Iphone or laptop are essential for finding information. Sign up for auction flyers from local auctioneers so that you can look at what items are up for auction. Visit their websites if applicable to see photos or upcoming auctions. To find auctions look in your local paper, search online for local auctioneers or just a site like auctionzip which have auction listings of many types. Bear in mind all fees involved and the terms and condition of the auction. Bring your own boxes and newspaper/bubble wrap so that you can securely package your items. Bring a magnifying glass or loupe to look for damage, maker's marks, etc. Make sure you have a way to get the item home. Many times I have seen someone purchase something and then realize it will not fit in their car. Keep general reference books and I have at least a dozen that I have with me when attending an auction. If you see something valuable do not bring attention to it. If you are a reseller it may be beneficial for you to have a Tax ID and it's simple to get one. Keep all receipts of purchases so that when you file your taxes you can determine how much you spent versus sold items for. My tip as a reseller is don't buy cheap items that you can only make a few dollars from. This wastes time and I prefer to buy items that I am knowledgeable about and can make at least 30 dollars from at a conservative estimate after all fees and estimated listing costs. Last word of advice is that auctions are fun but some people get addicted to them and buy things they don't need or spend more than they can afford. If you feel you are becoming addicted to auctions whether it is hoarding or spending beyond your means you should seek some type of therapy.

Pictorial Guide To Pottery And Porcelain Marks
Pictorial Guide To Pottery And Porcelain Marks

Has a lot of photos for those who are more visually inclined. I like the Miller's book better but with reference books you can never have too many and often one has info the other doesn't.


Live Auctions Poll

Do you attend live auctions?

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Beautiful Slag Glass Nesting Lion I purchased at a Durocher auction

Beautiful Slag Glass Nesting Lion I purchased at a Durocher auction
Beautiful Slag Glass Nesting Lion I purchased at a Durocher auction
Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles 2012 Price Guide
Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles 2012 Price Guide

I own a previous edition and a good generic book with a little bit of everything included.


Glassware and China Guides - I own a few of these as well

The Official Price Guide to Glassware, 4th Edition
The Official Price Guide to Glassware, 4th Edition

I have this book and is a great generic book. If you want more information about a certain type you may want to purchase a book or two in what you collect like Carnival or Depression, etc.


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    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 

      6 years ago

      Hello!! Very nice lens!!! Thanks for all the great information!


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