When it comes to more specialized areas or the sale of an award winning exhibit, the person who best knows the material should be the seller. Yet many sellers do not make the effort (read spend the time) to pre-describe the material and certainly point out the sleepers many folks would normally overlook. This can be summarized with the observation that many good collections take years to build but are sold in a few hours. Couple that with this quote:
But did you examine those lots in person and figure the values? You'd then probably see how useless those estimates are. Based on the way they've broken down collections before (the flashy cover worth $100 retail becomes a lot, the $1000 cover that is rare and collectors would kill to have but not spectacular gets left in the balance), the estimates are to be taken with a grain of salt.
and the seller is really just "hoping for the best" rather than doing the work to get the best. Any dealer will list a $500 or $1000 item (hammer, percentage, sales tax and shipping -- not catalog price) when they do not need the describer doing hours of work to determine the true scarcity and price level. The auction firm happily defaults to running the item to increase the sale prices and their take.
I watched this happen with a friend. When I jammed him up his reply was that they (Rumsey) should know the material. Yeah, right; and I knew the comment was based upon the fact the friend does enough to just get by, here while winning golds. So he spent over two decades putting the material together, some great material, and exhibiting it but what, two or three hours packing it up for shipment to the auctioneer without instructions or suggestions. I asked if he looked to see if the firm handled much of such material. "Doesn't it?" was the reply; well "no" was the true answer based upon reality but I soften it to "not really." When you never purchase material from the auction firm for your area of interest, there maybe reasons why which should be explored. Understand that is different from never purchasing from the firm because the items in your area of interest sell for too high of a price with the firm.
I, like many, knew the good stuff, solid $3-500 or more retail items, tougher to find than the price suggests, which did not see light of day in the catalog. They were buried in the bulk remainder lots. Those sold at high wholesale prices well over estimate, and out of the reach of most knowledgeable collectors of the area--without being available to be examined due to lock down. Many of those item if lotted individually would have attracted much bidding. Yet many items which were not particularly interesting got lotted in the $1-200 range as single items. The money to be made (or saved by a collector) were those bulk lots which were not available for in person viewing. Some, a handful of items, went for prices beyond any expectation and those carried the total sale price.
Ultimately, I was able to get him to fess up about why he chose the firm over others that would have handled his material much better, more thoroughly and with a proven track record in the subject area. He said he never heard any bad rumors about the firm paying consignors or material "disappearing" unlike the others. He was pleased with the amount he got overall, but myopic about understanding that was 30-50% less in his pocket than he would have made elsewhere especially as a Kellerher name sale
Perhaps in an ideal world, but given deadlines and the tendency for a high % of consignments to show up at the last minute, this throws a wrench in things. Plus, not all consignors are created equal. Some are one time consignors that you will never see again. Some are repeat consignors, but low quality, poorly sorted/presented, overly "optimistic" about what their stuff is worth or otherwise a pain, while others are more reasonable and/or supply better material. Given time constraints they will not be treated equally. Also most houses have more than 1 describer and they simply won't do things exactly the same.
My friend was the highlighted type, he will not be selling with Rumsey again; nor will he likely be selling with any auction firm again. He did previously sell via auction house, a large part of a prior exhibit. There he was one of the last consignors paid before "Lowell S. Newman & Co Auctioneers" ceased operation after Sale No. 34. That was why he avoided any firm for which he heard any rumors, accurate or not.
WESTPEX is my "home" APS WSP show and has been since the late 1970s.
Edit: I am surprised no one in this thread has commented on the prices realized nor the material in the other WESTPEX Sale Rumsey Sale #102, the Gary Munson Hawaii collection, first part, which was offered up to Rumsey by the estate. Now here Rumsey does handle much Hawaii materiel and the estate made a good choice.