September 29, 2008

October 11 Scott Winslow Auction

The latest offerings from Scott J. Winslow Associates Inc will take place October 11. This is a mail, phone and live internet auction, meaning you can bid live via eBay. As always, in cases of tie bids, the earliest bid received takes precedence, so I always recommend bidding as early as you can.

This sale is 100% focused on stocks and bonds. The offering includes 847 lots, with 337 representing railroad companies. As usual, Scott will offer gobs of heavy-hitter autographs, with more than 80 lots involving railroad certificates. Among the autographed items are Gould, Harriman, Commodore Vanderbilt and several lots involving J.P. Morgan.

Winslow remains one of the few auction houses which has not hiked his commission structure. Winslow's rate is still 15% of the hammer price. Because of eBay fees, successful online bidders will pay an additional 5%. This should give you additional incentive to bid early.

I also applaud Scott for clearly stating his minimum acceptable bid - "60% of the low estimate." I really don't understand why many other houses find this concept so hard to understand.

I don't have time for a full count, but it looks like 85% to 90% of the lots are illustrated. Be warned that illustrations are in black and white in the catalog, which is one of the ways to control costs in order to keep commission fees affordable.

Contact Scott J. Winslow Associates immediately to receive a copy of the 102 page catalog. You may also see an Acrobat version of the catalog on the web site. Obviously, color images will appear for the online sale. (You must be registered in advance to participate in the live eBay action.)

September 24, 2008

Mario Boone's "Super Attic Sale", auction 41

I just received the catalog for Mario Boone's sale #41. Boone has been promoting this sale for a couple months and it will finally take place in Antwerp on October 18 and 19. This sale is unusual in that every lot will offer at least a 100 certificates.

True to its name, this is a "Super Attic Sale" that attempts to liquidate over a million stocks and bonds in one sale.

Typical of every Boone sale, certificates from the whole planet are represented. The vast majority of the 846 lots are illustrated. All are shown in color.

Over 12 percent of the entire sale are United States companies and over two-thirds of those are railroad certificates. A quick count shows that the 73 lots of U.S. railroad certificates total 28,598 certificates. Therefore, each lot contains an average of 392 certificates. Lot will generally contain one or two types.

I have already been asked whether this sale will depress prices. In my opinion, such a huge hoard dumped on the market in one sale must surely lower prices. However, I would not want to overstate the case.

First, there are no real surprises in the sale. Most lots contain certificates that are already priced very low in the U.S. For instance, there are 2,890 certificates from the B&O and 1,453 from the Little Miami. The West Shore is represented by 843 certificates which is a drop in the bucket compared to what is out there.

As expected, a vast number of certificates are being recycled from the New York Central hoard. Those very same certificates have been selling in vast numbers for 20 years. I doubt that U.S. prices for many of those certificates will change much at all.

Having said that, I will suggest that we will see the greatest downward effect on prices in Europe. From my perspective, European prices for overly common U.S. certificates have been absurdly high, held high for little reason other than the language barrier. (Not to mention that many beginner sellers refuse to ship to Europe!) As soon as we see certificates from Boone's hoard appear on eBay Germany, prices should get a little more realistic.

The price depression I anticipate will depend, of course, on how disciplined Boone's buyers will be when it comes time to recover their investments. If those purchasers dribble their new inventory out slowly, we won't see a tremendous price decrease. If they dump them out onto eBay every week, prices of selected item will decrease.

Personally, I'm voting for reasonableness. Witness prices for $1000 registered bonds from the West Shore Railroad. They have great eye appeal and prices remain in the $2 to $5 range, even though there are tens of thousands of them out there. What effect will another 381 (in lot #809) have on prices? Probably very little.

Request your catalog from Mario Boone and read more about the sale online.