The August MEARS Auction closed a few hours ago and it was our most successful event to date. Coming in wake of the National, this is typically a down time for sports memorabilia auctions. Not so last night. Pacing the way were vintage and rare photographs recently obtained the by John Rogers Photo Archives directly from the Sporting News. MEARS Auctions has established a special relationship with the John Rogers Photo Archives, and as such, we will be bringing more original and rare product to market over the next few months.
Some might say that the market has been become saturated in recent months with vintage sports photographs. Newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune are marketing their holdings directly through E-Bay. The thing I would ask collectors to consider is something they are well aware of…not all product is the same. The photographic holdings being offered by MEARS come from the definitive source for sporting images since the later part of the 19th century, the Sporting News. Each photograph offered by MEARS Auctions features a special hologram identifying the image as coming from this seminal sporting source. An extremely high percentage of them are Type I photographs, that being one that was developed directly from the original photographers negative within approximately two years of the image being captured.
In my mind, what makes these rare/wonderful collectables and long term values is the combination of source, subject, and medium. These images not only represent snapshots of historic sporting icons and events, but also a snap shot of an art form and technological process that has also entered into the annuals of American history. While collectors have always valued them as memorabilia and invaluable research aids, the liquidation en masse of these hard copy photographic images by the original owners’ finally signals an industry wide trend that these are gone and gone forever as a means of doing business.
For this event, MEARS Auction saw the number of registered users grow by some 16%. A number of these new users are well heeled collectors who bid in this auction almost exclusively on the vintage photographs. MEARS also saw a significant increase from previous auctions in both the number of total bids (roughly doubled) and individual bidders (up by 68%). Once again, the focus on this surge in activity advanced largely on the presence of the John Rogers Sporting News Archives holdings.
What we have found in talking to collectors/bidders over the past few weeks is that their desire to register and bid in MEARS Auctions is the culmination of seeing the product they want, and at the same time, a willingness to participate in auction that they feel very comfortable knowing is grounded in ethical and transparent business practices. Getting the right product and offering in in the right manner is a powerful combination…something that bodes very well for an industry currently riddled with conflict, speculation, and the potential of criminal prosecution for some individuals and organizations.
If you are looking for examples of a rare and virtually extinct form of art and physical chronicle of sporting history, then look to MEARS Auctions in the months to come as the offerings will only get better. If you are also looking to consign your memorabilia to a venue that is bucking in the industry trend by gaining bidder/buyer confidence, then we would love to hear from you. Bidder confidence in the product and process drives value. This is something we have been saying for years at MEARS and something that is beginning to pay dividends for MEARS Auctions consigners.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions and comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com