June 14, 2010

Spink Smythe auction 302

The latest Spink Smythe stock and bond auction catalog arrived today. The sale will take place in Dallas on June 29, but lots may be viewed at the Memphis show on June 18, 19 and 20.

This sale is most welcomed and I hope collectors respond favorably. There are approximately 868 lots comprising probably a couple thousand certificates, all from the Americas. Contact Spink Smythe immediately at 800-556-7826 if you have not yet received your 88-page catalog.

As expected, offerings from railroad companies (178 lots), mining companies (155 lots) and automobile companies (90 lots) make up the bulk of the sale. Spink Smythe has improved its indexing which makes finding desireable certificates easier.

Less than half the offered lots are shown in the catalog, but all catalog images are in high-quality color. Additional single-item lots are shown online at http://www.spinksmythe.com, but still not all.

For price guidance, Spink Smythe has changed from a "price-range estimate" (eg. $125-250) to a "single-price estimate" (eg. $175). I personally think this is a better approach for the company. Having recorded thousands upon thousands of prices from NASCA, Smythe and Spink Smythe, I am convinced that the majority of bidders always interpreted the low estimate as the lowest acceptable bid. That was not true, of course, but prices realized still tended to cluster around the low estimate. It will be interesting to see how prices will behave with this sale.

In recent auctions, Spink Smythe continued the Smythe tradition of establishing its minimum acceptable bid at 60% of the lowest bid estimate. This time, the introductory letter by Mike Veissid and Jim Fitzgerald states that collectors can bid any amount they feel appropriate. I have always been comfortable bidding that way but no everybody is. It leaves the door wide open for the company to decide whether bids are made in good faith or not. I hope the experiment results in higher sales percentages like those from the early 1990s. On the other hand, I can imagine bidders heavily trained by absurdly low eBay prices might be scared away by the uncertainy.

I never enter auction lots into my database until after sales close, so I don't have precise counts. It looks to me that there are 178 lots related to railroading, counting US certificates, autographed certificates and related certificates from Panama, Mexico and Canada. Of that number, 137 lots are single-item lots and 41 lots are multi-item lots. I always advise multi-item for collectors who are also part-time sellers.

Spink Smythe's buyers' commission is 20% for the first $2000 PER LOT and 15% thereafter. With rare exception, the days of 10% commissions are gone, simply because sales percentages are so low and production costs so high. Always be sure to factor in the costs of commissions and shipping when calculating your bids. Do not wait until your invoice arrives before thinking about those added costs.

1 comment:

WVrails said...

I too like the changes with how estimated price is shown and that there is no minimum bid. Some of these changes started or were alluded to with their Fort Worth sale in May.

As with any changes to established norms there can be unforeseen problems. When using the online bidding form for the Fort Worth sale I encountered a couple of issues, one related to the changes in bidding practices. Specifically, as I was later told, at that time the online form was still checking for a specific percentage as a minimum bid. The other, unrelated, was that although a $5 bid increment applied to bids under $100 the form would only accept $10 increments.

I contacted Spink Smythe via email and very quickly received assistance. I have not tried placing bids for the Dallas auction so I don’t know if the online form is still checking for a minimum bid.

Now I just need to figure out how to properly search their online catalog....

I always had good experiences when dealing with Smythe and Spink Smythe seems to be continuing that same high level of service.