Economic Status of the Collecting and Auction World

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized

The following is the text of REA’s February 13, 2009  mass email to our mailing list, for those interested but who are not on our email list:

Having heard repeatedly during the past week numerous reports of serious economic issues at some auction houses, we thought it would be appropriate to send a quick note to our bidders and consignors to assure you that Robert Edward Auctions is rock solid financially, as always, and that interest in collecting is as great as ever. We have no cash flow problems, and no banking credit issues. In fact, as we have communicated many times in the past in our advertising literature, REA does not even have a line of credit. We don’t need one. The hobby is healthy and collectors are very enthusiastic! The economy may have an impact on the prices of some items, that is a given (and as it should be), but interest in our auctions, both by bidders and consignors, is unprecedented.  It would not be an exaggeration for us to say that, from our perspective, business is booming.

While the flow of quality consignments is always uncertain and by nature “feast or famine,” it is clear to us that there is a far greater demand for our services than we can supply. We always tell consignors that our most valuable resource is our time. The way we do things, with uncompromising care, commitment to research, and attention to detail, there will always be a limit on exactly how much material we can process and therefore accept for auction. That’s why we always ask for material early. We could not do the quality job we insist on doing if everything came in at the last minute. It would be impossible. We will never compromise on the quality of our services, and if we have to turn down material for auction, we’re OK with this being the reason. We want to do a great job.

In recent years it has become routine for us to have to politely decline to accept quality items because of timing. This has increasingly been the case even as we have cut back drastically on our advertising. This year we didn’t even send out a direct mailing request for consignments, and you (as a person on our email list) may or may not have noticed that we have sent out just a few consignment request notices by email the entire year. The reason we haven’t been more aggressive with advertising is simply that we have been swamped all year. This tells us that maybe this is the time for us to consider expanding to two auctions per year. We don’t know the exact details yet, because they have not been decided (we first have to get through the upcoming auction, which is going to press in a few weeks) but many collectors and dealers have suggested that we go to two auctions per year, and we are finally very seriously considering doing exactly that. We will send more details soon. Our vision may be to add a smaller second auction, as opposed to trying to create two auctions of equal size, with the idea that maybe over time the second auction will grow into an event as significant as the larger auction. Even if it does not, it will allow us to handle more material for more consignors, possibly allow us to attract some quality consignments that we would not otherwise get, and to provide a shorter time horizon for auction that is often desired by sellers. The goal is to allow us to provide an even more valuable service to the collecting community, while at the same time being careful and practical. At REA, we like what we do very much and want to be sure to keep the auction business fun for us! We will keep you posted and look forward to sending more details in the near future about this and about our upcoming auction, which may be our best ever!


Robert Edward Auctions LLC

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