The MEARS December 2009 Auction was a tremendous success on a number of levels. We almost tripled the dollar value of the best and most recent auction, but it is actually two other things that I am most proud of. Those being the demonstration that credible research has a significant impact on value, and that legitimate value is assured/realized through ethical business practices.
The December auction posted a total for final bids of approximately $201,968.00 and the offerings were tremendous. Although not the high dollar item in the auction, as that was reserved for a spectacular 1954 Warren Spahn Milwaukee Braves road jersey (A10) at $39,600.00, the 1913-1914 Ty Cobb H&B 40K bat came in $30,565.50. It is the Cobb bat that I am most pleased with. The consigner had seen the article and information about Cobb and other 40K related issues on MEARS on Line. He had also been offered roughly $4750.00 by a collector/dealer outside of MEARS who had seen the same information. He elected to go with MEARS Auctions as he figured others had seen this information and were inclined to likely go much higher than what the collector/dealer offered him. I would say so at $30,565.50.
This brought me great pleasure as it clearly demonstrated that the days of only a select few individuals having access to valuable information are becoming a thing of the past. As someone who has written almost 270 articles in this field over the past five years, it is clear to me that MEARS has had a significant impact on enabling the collecting community to make informed and judicious purchase decisions. All of this also showed me you can get quality consignments and action through an honest, legitimate and transparent venue.
One of the conditions I established in order for me to stay on with MEARS in 2010 is that an self directed, external and professional audit be conducted of MEARS Auctions in 2009 and at least annually here after. That audit is all but complete. The idea was to ensure that “NO SHILL BIDDING” was taking place. The way this is assessed is that the list of bidders, consigners, and MEARS employees was provided. The auditor then looked through the records of each auction. Since MEARS has NO HIDDEN RESERVES, then any item that drew a single bid, sold. If an item legitimately sold, then the auditor would expect to see evidence that an actual payment was made by the bidder and a subsequent legitimate outlay funds was made to the consigner. In order to ensure the audit was complete prior to the end of 2009, a close date had to be established as the end of the October auction. As I understand it, the audit is all but complete. The only hold up is obtaining bank information on two wire transfer payments that were made. These have to be provided by the winning bidder’s financial institution. Remember, this MEARS audit is self-imposed and MEARS remains the only auction house to do this without any external direction.
Is there or has there been anything preventing any and all other auction venues from doing the same thing? There is not. But in order to comply with the provisions of what the audit is designed to explore and verify, they would have to swear off shill bidding and hidden reserves. Folks, it’s just that simple and the decision is entirely up to them. Once our audit is finalized, I will report back as to the nature of the complete findings. For those auction houses that are interested, the cost of the audit was around $1500.00. So when you flaunt sales figures in the millions to potential consigners, why not to spend $1500 to equally impress your bidders?
This auction did feature a number of high dollar value items that did not draw bids during the on-line auction. However, these same consigners have expressed pleasure knowing they did not have to be exposed to low reserves and have to bid on and win their own items just to protect their investment. In case you did not know this, some auction houses allow the consigner to bid on their own items. If the consigner wins, then they are responsible to the auction house for both the consignment fee and the buyer’s premium.
In the case of a $30-$40,000.00 jersey or bat, this might be as much $8,000-$10,000.00 paid by the consigner just to let the auction house showcase the item. Also, some consigners have expressed personal relief in not having to take part in what they consider to be a deceptive and at times costly business practice simply to protect their investment.
As I type this article on Monday the 14th, over 20% of the winning lots have already been packaged and shipped. Consignment checks have been written and will go out in the mail on the 15th.
As I said, I could not be happier with the results of this auction as they represent the culmination of various facets of improvement MEARS has been working long and hard to bring to an underperforming industry…and at MEARS our measure of performance has not been myopically focused on our own wallet.
My heart felt thanks and appreciation to everyone who took part in this auction.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions and comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com