Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2012 Issue

eBay:  I bid you not

Screen shot 2012-03-31 at 11.02.43 am

An image from auctionbusinessreviews.com

Recently on my browser, Chrome, the id number of eBay lots drifted down the item description page and lost a few point sizes making it a bit less obvious to those who use third party bidding software to automatically place bids as time expires.  It’s understandable that eBay would want to make such numbers less obvious so to encourage the use of eBay’s own bidding software that moves the bid immediately if higher bids are in their bid system.  For buyers of course potentially showing their maximum bid early makes no sense.  It can cost you money.

How does this work?

If I see an item on eBay that’s interesting I can immediately place a bid in my third party automated bidding software that does two things.  It insures I’ll be bidding up to my maximum specified price and lets no one know I’m interested until my bid is placed with a few seconds to go.  If instead I use eBay’s software and place the same maximum bid it immediately exposes my bid to incremental counter bidding.  I may still end up winning but possibly, even probably, pay more.

As time expires and my bid is entered eBay learns I’m willing to pay more, sometimes much more and I’m sure they would like to earn more commissions and help the seller get a higher percentage of my maximum bid.    But this is an auction and what makes these auctions so appealing is the possibility of buying well.  Lessen that possibility and I think eBay and sellers both lose.  Fail to obtain better outcomes for sellers and they risk some sellers giving up.  The good news for eBay is that more serious collectors are buying there today although their numbers are not yet sufficient to increase prices.  In time they will. 

A weakness for sellers on eBay for years has been their inability to regularly obtain comparable outcomes to what is listed in dealer catalogues and on listing sites.  A few years back I estimated the outcome of a theoretically identical item on all the major platforms.  Here is an updated version including the likelihood of a sale:

Level

Potential Price as a % of the Logically Possible

Likelihood of Sale

Time Needed

 

 

 

 

Serious Dealers

100%

50%

1-2 years

Auctions

70%

75%

90-150 Days

Listing Sites

60%

10%

5 Years

eBay

25% to 30%

80%

2 Weeks


It’s not a pretty picture but its probably reality.  For every item there is the perfect buyer, the one who will pay the highest price and feel the greatest satisfaction with the acquisition.  Sellers have a technical term for such buyers – their lottery winners - but the likelihood of consistently attracting such bidders [in real life] is zero.  Of course I do see some sellers who consistently have 10 to 20 bids for their items, most placed early and frequently over the 7 to 10 day lives of their sales.  Their self-less bidders tell the world of their interest and bravely post their offers early and often so to encourage a rich outcome for the seller.  They are true friends, maybe even relatives.

For the rest of us who collect we seek to acquire when the item fits and the price makes sense.  The recent eBay decision to make the lot number a bit less obvious will for some make prices go a bit higher but also potentially reduce the interest and fervor of some buyers who have come to love the site.  If so, it’s a shame.  For the old, rare and obscure there’s really nothing like it.     


Posted On: 2012-04-01 00:00
User Name: PhilipCohen

And, just for a laugh, some serious analyses of PayPal's "The New Way To Pay In-Store", PayPal Here, PayPal Digital Wallet, PayPal Debit MasterC


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing after pledging support to King George III against American rebels, 1776. Sold for a record $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sonia Delaunay, <i>Ses Peintures</i> . . ., 20 pochoir plates, Paris, 1925. Sold for a record $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Diana, Princess of Wales, 6 autograph letters signed to British <i>Vogue</i> editor, 1989-92. Sold for $10,400.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alexander Hamilton, ALS, as Secretary of the Treasury covering costs of the new U.S. Mint, 1793. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. Sold for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Barbier & François-Louis Schmied, <i>Personnages de Comédie,</i> Paris, 1922. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Ilsée, Princesse de Tripoli,</i> Paris, 1897. Sold for a record $13,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ralph Waldo Emerson, <i>The Dial,</i> first edition of the reconstituted issue, Emerson’s copy with inscriptions, Cincinnati, 1860. Sold for a record $3,250.

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