October 21, 2008

Spink Smythe Autumn Stock & Bond Sale

Spink Smythe's latest sale catalog #289 (mislabeled #288 in tiny numbers on the spine) arrived yesterday. This catalog presents a departure from previous stock and bond sales in that it is now in FULL color. I know that increases production costs, but I think the effort will be most welcomed by collectors around the globe.

The Autumn Stock & Bond Sale will take place at the company's New York offices at 10:00 am, November 7, 2008. The sale features 617 lots with 161 lots involving North American railroads. The buyer's premium is 20% of the hammer price per lot on the first $2000, and 15% thereafter.

Unlike European competitors, Spink Smythe's sales have always offered fair minimum bids. I cannot overstate the importance of this approach for the hobby. By setting reasonable minimum bids, collectors can "feel" the direction of prices, and therefore the direction of the hobby. Astute bidders can get a feeling for how to bid in future auctions and recognize fair versus unfair buying opportunities in fixed price settings.

Reasonable opening prices allow sales of items to develop "momentum" on their way to ultimate sales prices. This is especially important in down markets. Professional auctioneers always seek price momentum. When collectibles have price momentum, they usually achieve higher prices. One of the tricks is to start sales at fair opening bids and thereby allow bidders to generate emotion and enthusiasm, otherwise known as "auction fever." High opening minimums always stifle "auction fever."

I really don't know what kinds of prices we'll see in today's freaked out financial climate. I doubt we'll see any record breaking. However, I can testify that there are some great and rarely-seen certificates in this sale. In situations such as today, moneyed buyers can really clean up. I am NOT predicting, but ... I will not be terribly surprised to see a medium to high percentage of lots sold. (European auctions with high minimum starting bids always have low percentages of lots sold.)

Because of the turbulent financial news, last week's Las Vegas automobile auction was unenthusiastic and disappointing for sellers. However, those advanced collectors with money made some absolutely great buys! Those were the few people that recognize that buying collectibles in times like these can pay off very handsomely indeed.

I think this Spink Smythe sale represents a similar buying opportunity for stock and bond collectors with vision. The pros know that the best time to buy is when everyone else is running scared.

Be sure to contact Spink Smythe immediately for this handsome catalog. Thankfully, the catalog is already online and available for viewing. 147 of the 161 railroad-related lots are illustrated online.

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