There are many avenues to sell your antiques and collectibles; private sells, auction houses, eBay, antique brokers etc. In this article I have compared between the auction house and eBay. I have presented the pros and cons of both the Auction house and eBay.
Who will see your antiques or collectibles
In an auction house your antique or collectible will be seen by buyers that are there specifically for that type of item. Most auction houses advertise world wide through there mailing list, brokers, internet based auction proxy such as live auctioneers, live auctions, and proxy bid to name a few (They advertise on your behalf for your product too). In the case of a specialty auction those buyers will be there for only those type of items (e.g. a clock auction will bring in clock collectors and buyers). eBay has a worldwide viewer base that is there for just about anything. The viewers have to search for your items going through 100's of thousands of misplaced items using an inefficient search engine that tend to return results that have nothing to do with what you are looking for. eBay may have millions of viewers but the chances of the right buyers seeing your item are slim.
Finding the right price for your antiques or collectibles
When you use an auction house to sell your antique(s) or collectible(s), you have a much better chance of getting the full value for your antique(s) or collectible(s). Most auction houses have on staff appraisers that specialize in a specific field (e.g. mechanical music instruments, clocks, glassware, comic books etc). If they do not have a specialist on staff they usually have a phone book full of appraisers that can help them. These appraisers watch the market like the stock brokers watch the stock market and they know the trends well. If you choose to use eBay you have to either guess at the value or just put your item up and hope it brings the value you think it is worth. Unless you consult with an appraiser like myself or do tons of research you will not truly know the value of your item. With an ever changing market it can be difficult to find an accurate comparable without subscribing to a service that provides market research for the past 3-5 years. These services can be quite expensive. Going by the prices on eBay will not help you either since most of the people there are in the same boat as you.
Cost of an Auction house vs. eBay
An Auction house charges a commission for selling items through the Auction House, this is called the sellers premium (read my article on how to choose a good auction house to sell items that I wrote a few weeks ago to find out more). The average sellerâ€™s premium is 10-35%. In most cases the higher the value ofÂ your antique or collectibleÂ the lower the percentage. This commission can always be negotiated. Using an auction house may cost more but you are getting far better quality and in the long run much less hassle and stress. eBay's cost is not so laid out anymore. They have a fee of about $4.00 to $6.00 just to list your item and almost 6 % seller's premium when the item is sold. If your items are not sold you then have to pay the fee to re list the item. Eventually you end up paying about the same price as an auction house just to have your antique or collectible listed on eBay with mix matched socks from Korea.
Shipping and Handling
Once your items are in the hands of an auction house you don't have to do anything else but wait for your items to sell. You don't have to worry about arranging shipping, packing the items, taking it anywhere to be shipped, returns, and any damage that might occur. While your antique or collectible is in the hands of the auction house it should be insured. With eBay you have to pack and ship the item, make sure you charge enough for shipping which never seem to happen no matter how many postage calculator you use. They all seem to give you a different amount. Trying to pack your item properly so they are not damaged in transit is almost impossible. Then you have to deal with customers emailing you all the time saying their item is not there yet even thou you gave them the tracking number.
The time frame for your antique or collectible to sell
An auction house can take anywhere from about one week to six months to sell your item. This all depends on the auction house’s calendar and if your item needs to be in a specialty auction. When using eBay the average time to sell an item is seven days. This of course is if you do not need to relist your item. There is about a 60 % chance you will have to relist your item and pay the fees again.
My advise is always try to consult with a professional first either an appraiser, auction house, or antique broker regardless if you are selling one item, a collection, or estate. You don't want to find out the artwork you sold on eBay for $500.00 was worth 2 million.