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Interested In Experiences With Auction Firms For Selling

 
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Valued Member
United States
118 Posts
Posted 08/19/2019   1:30 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Richard Frajola to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Here is a list of the only stamp auction companies I can recommend in the United States:

Siegel
Rumsey
Harmer-Schau
Cherrystone
Spink
HR Harmer (now of New York City)

I would suggest Harmer-Schau for a mid-quality US stamp collection. The market is not strong for US unless 98 to 100 grades so, figure large lots.

My judging of an auction house is based on them giving you an honest estimate, after viewing, of what they think the collection should bring. If the final result is within that estimate, that is all that should be expected. If you don't like the estimates, get three estimates. Negative marks if final result is not within estimate.
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Edited by Richard Frajola - 08/19/2019 1:33 pm
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Posted 08/19/2019   3:25 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Oracle of Delphi to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Richard - always interested in your experience and perspective. Have two questions:

-- I notice Kelleher is not listed; any particular reasons why, if you are willing to comment?

-- I have purchased almost all of my higher value stamps ($250-2500 cat; almost all truly VF but only a few graded) as individual lots at auction within the last six years with the usual suspects - Siegel, Kelleher, Harmer-Schau, Cherrystone, some Regency. In most cases there were competing bids, although I did not end up paying catalog prices for all but a few. I don't mind stating that, in my humble opinion, to put these (except the higher values) into large lots would probably result in my taking a hit versus what I paid. Has the market for nongraded stamps really gotten that much weaker over this time period, such that the bulk of my collection would only sell at auction in large lots? Please set me straight if I'm reading too much into your remarks.

I never bought these stamps as an investment, so don't mind paying a price for my enjoyment, but if I take a big hit after such a short time on a decent quality collection, I don't know how this hobby is going to survive except for really rich folks and penny-pinching modern stamp and topical collectors.

Thank you.
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Edited by Oracle of Delphi - 08/19/2019 3:36 pm
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United States
423 Posts
Posted 08/19/2019   4:36 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add codehappy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
TBH it's not so much "nongraded" US classics that are soft, it's 19th century US without certs. Repairs and regums are a plague in that area.

If you bought the higher value (say $500+) items with clean certs, or can get clean certs for them, it would make sense to lot them separately from the balance of your collection. $100-$500 items often stay in the collection lots these days though.


Quote:
if I take a big hit after such a short time on a decent quality collection, I don't know how this hobby is going to survive except for really rich folks and penny-pinching modern stamp and topical collectors.


Most people (or their heirs) take massive haircuts when they sell their stamp collections; that's nothing new, it's always been that way. The thing is, that usually only comes after you're done collecting, so it hasn't been fatal to the hobby yet.

If you want to make money in stamps the old-fashioned way, either be a middleman and take a commission on each transaction (like the stamp auctions do), or purchase valuable estates straight from bereaved widows and the like, sellers with no knowledge or emotional attachment toward stamps and with a motivation to sell. The middleman and the vulture have been parts of the philatelic market ecosystem forever, and they do well enough to survive to this day. They have to treat stamps as a business, not a hobby, though, which spoils a lot of the fun.
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United States
188 Posts
Posted 08/19/2019   5:00 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add howell1018 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I find this thread to be very interesting. My collection is similar to Oracle's. My typical stamp is VF MLH with an accompanying PSE or PF certificate. My commemoratives are complete. If a regular issue is before 1890 it's typically used. Regular issues costing less than $750 are likely in my album. Most of my stamps were purchased from Century or Rupp Brothers. Here's my question....Regarding the acquisition of a new cert, how old is too old? I'm not selling right now, but I'm in my late 60's, in good health, and I think holding on (to my stamps) is probably not a good idea for my heirs.
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Posted 08/19/2019   6:20 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Howell - Christopher Rupp and Ed at Century would be good people to have your heirs discuss disposing of the material with assuming they are still around at that point. Christopher is a straight shooter that will give an honest opinion as to how to dispose of the collection. He offers me invaluable advice on auction items and other stamps even when I am not making a purchase.

I do not agree with the premise that items between $100 and $500 dollars do not make single lots. They need to be very nice items is all. I just bought some of those types at Siegel, Cherrystone and Kelleher and I sell those items through auction. Those items are also desirable to real top notch dealers. Condition, centering and certs are the keys as always.

If the market is soft you could have fooled me given my experience bidding this year for quality US material. Again, condition and centering along with certs are key.
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United States
4355 Posts
Posted 08/20/2019   10:30 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add floortrader to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
What hasn't been said but is important is to do most of the work for the auction house ,display and write up what needs to be said,so it can realize the best price .

I don't deal with U.S. but I do the write up and descriptions of the collections I sell at auction ,then the firm adjusts it to their catalog . I point out where the better stuff is .
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Posted 08/20/2019   2:34 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Oracle of Delphi to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Just as a point of reference, the Siegel rep at the Omaha stamp show said that $500-700 is the range that they look for as a minimum for individual lots, although I know that they do have lower values, as I've bought quite a few of those myself in their auctions. I'm not comfortable with Siegel pulling those items, which are a distinct minority, out of my collection and putting the rest into a large lot to sell at a fraction of what I acquired them for. I have never had any illusions about getting back what I put into this collection, particularly with the two-way premiums, but I'd rather have the market determine that directly item by item, to the extent feasible, rather than having a small group of people look at the whole collection and pay $5000-10000 at auction for what I paid $50000 for (just illustrative). When I'm ready, I'll have a chat with the recommended houses to see what they have to say.

Thank you everyone for your observations. Would still have an interest in any other comments.
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Edited by Oracle of Delphi - 08/20/2019 3:28 pm
Pillar Of The Community
United States
1661 Posts
Posted 08/20/2019   3:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Lotting of any collection in order to maximize return is a learned skill, which some Auction describers are better at than others. A lot of how it gets done, as has been alluded to, also depends on their target marketplace.

One thing I can definitely say, is that it pays to leave some desirable items in a group lot. Maybe not necessarily super high quality items, but more often, less common, rarer items that might have a small fault. Things like that can often help improve a group lot's value very significantly.

It is nerve-wracking, consigning one's lifetime collection. I know, I did it quite some time ago, and I was very uneasy about it. I was quite fortunate, in that things went well.

Now I'm building my second "lifetime" collection. Go figure.

I wish you the best - it seems as though you've gotten some good advice in this thread.
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Posted 08/20/2019   4:47 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add redwoodrandy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Please let us know of an auction house that will single lot items in the $100- $400 range.
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Posted 08/20/2019   5:04 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Kelleher does. There last sale had quite a few. I stopped counting at 50 so you could say roughly 150 or so out of 750 front of book stamp lots. They were nice stamps with exceptional cancels and/or great centering. That is always the key.
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Valued Member
United States
188 Posts
Posted 08/22/2019   6:47 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add howell1018 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I took the plunge and contacted Kelleher and am meeting with a rep who is in my area next week anyway. I think I'm going to consign. 60+ years, it was a good run.
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Posted 08/22/2019   8:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Oracle of Delphi to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
howell1018- Would be interested in hearing how your meeting with Kelleher goes and any impressions you get.
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Posted 08/22/2019   8:44 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add redwoodrandy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Good choice. I commend you for passing on your collection and not involving non stamp collecting heirs. Another wise choice.
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Posted 08/22/2019   8:47 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add redwoodrandy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Starting over is even more fun. What to collect next? I became more obscure and esoteric each time.
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United States
188 Posts
Posted 08/26/2019   3:02 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add howell1018 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'm supposed to meet with the Kelleher rep on Wednesday. I'm wondering about this now. What kind of return should I expect from an auction versus selling directly to a dealer that I've bought from previously? I don't think the dealer can match what the stamps would realize at auction, but he only has to get within less 20% because there would be no commission. I suspect that a dealer will not even offer that much however. My collection is U.S. From 1890 on it's mint and lightly hinged. Prior to 1890 it's used. None of my stamps have faults or alterations. Any stamp with in excess of $100 comes with a certificate from PF or PSE. My commemoratives are complete. If a stamp retails for less than $1,000 I probably have it. I value the entire collection in the medium 5 figure range and I think I'm being conservative. I've read that a dealer will offer about 50% of retail. Is that what I should expect for the kind of material I have?
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