Describing Red Dot Sale Lots

You've got to hand it to Nic Hendy.

Stepping into President Bruce Chadderton auctioneer extraordinaire's shoes at the last minute for Auckland Philatelic's October 2014 Red Dot Sale was no mean feat. It didn't take Nic long to get his auctioneering patter going or to stamp his style onto the event and again we ended up with another stunning result. Over 370 lots turned over in close to the allocated time ... congratulations Nic. Well done. We take our hats off to you. Also consider that Nic receives the auction lots, catalogues them and oversees the sale 101 ... a great effort. Word is getting around. APS Red Dot Sales are must-attend event for members, buyers and sellers. They attract non-members who could be future members. I was astounded to learn our last Red Dot Sale attracted around $3000 in postal bids from stamp lovers across New Zealand. That's very encouraging.

Reporting to members at the November 2014 meeting Nic had a couple of suggestions worth exploring further. "Worth exploring" because they will help step Red Dot Sales up a notch or two without much effort.

Talking first as organiser and second as the auctioneer Nic's first request was: "I would like to see each lot described better." This is great advice. It will assist the auctioneer and buyers who sometimes have limited time. As lots are listed at random it can take an hour or so to peruse with what's on sale.

Here are a couple of examples of descriptions selected at random from the last list (no offence meant anyone).

Fortunately most folk can see the lots prior to the start of the sale. Not so for postal bidders who bid sight unseen hoping that a lot may have items needed to fill gaps.

Describing a lot/collection doesn't come easy. Improving this will help us understand our own collections and one day, when we may have to sell, the better each is described more chance of a faster more lucrative sale.

Describing auction material requires knowledge of:

I can hear you already thinking ...... that's impossible.

These suggestions are within reach of all. There is help available and with practice you will improve and hopefully attract more buyers and better returns. The first and foremost resource are the auction catalogues regularly arriving from New Zealand stamp dealers i.e. Auckland City Stamps, Mowbrays, Ashford Stamps etc.

Abbreviations and detail

Here's how one lot in the last Red Dot Sale was described:

NZ: Green Stock Book 16 pages black, 1996-2013 plus some alternative post

And here's how Mowbrays described a lot recently. Detail, detail, detail, heaps of abbreviations, top stamps and top values noted, duplication suggested ... and all this for a 4-page stockbook. Don't be scared to use abbreviations, stamp collectors are used to this.

NZ 1935-1968 range, mostly defins, dupln. Noted 1935 9d (black ovpt) Official, QEII 10/- x 2, $2 pink & $2 multi x 3 each, on 4 stk pages. Mint/mng/muh.

Here's an attempt at a better description. I'm taking a guess at what the lot included but suggest detail, detail detail which adds up to value, value, value.

NZ 1996-2013, 16 Stk Bk pages full, Gold Rush, Scott Base, Rugby Supers, Marine Reptiles. Alternative posts 30. Mint/used, 150 stamps.

Dealers overseas are even better at describing auction lots. Here's one example of an accumulation:

GENERAL SECTION – 1900-1980 ALL WORLD BINDER interesting accumulation with little duplication, incl. Unchecked mint & used ranges from every continent and includes some Commonwealth issues. Warrants closer inspection (guess 3500 stamps).

The higher the estimate/value the longer the description especially in major international auction catalogues. Read them, select a style, follow it, and don’t be scared to lighten up.

The following description hints at an element of fun ...

GENERAL SECTION A real "Time Stealing" hoard in two shoe boxes. An interesting accumulation with mint & used Worldwide ranges in envelopes, looks to be mostly early 20th Century. At a glance we see a range of commercial covers stuffed with issues with better Germany & States, 19th century Scandinavia, France 1930s mint range, Spanish Civil War censor covers and a second box full of glassines containing mint, nhm & used ranges, chiefly USA, Canada, Europe, Israel & Commonwealth. This is going to take time to sort but should reward.

The Red Dot Sale auction list has room for up to a two-line description. Enthusiastically describe your lots. It pays.

Estimate start figure

Nic's second request was for buyers to provide an estimage guide as to where he can start the bidding ... not an estimate or a reserve ... just a dollar value as to what the lot may be worth.

For an accumulation roughly estimate how many stamps and select a reasonable figure 3 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents each or more.

A quick flick through a recent ACS catalogue inicates there is nothing under 50 cents a stamp so you have plenty of latitude as far as quality is concerned. For covers I suggest estimating them at 20 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents or $1 each. Remember, it's only a guide for the auctioneer to get buyer attention. The figure realized will depend on many factors way beyond your influence. If in doubt ask for a second opinion ... you may be surprised.