A dramatic change in the auction culture

Last week I sat through an large two day auction which had several canes for sale. In the middle of the afternoon with a couple  100 lots to go[ 80/hour]. I discovered I was the only live bidder in the room. On my right were 5 or 6  staff taking bids off their computers & 3 or 4 phones with active bidders. This is not uncommon. Several years ago there would typically be 20 -30 live bidders on the floor, having spent an hour or so going through the lots , kibitzing over the sale items and “learning” from each other. To me those days were fun & instructive[ always had a few bidders that kept to themselves and stayed away from potential “competitors”].  Those days are over. We have come to rely on the catalog’s skimpy description[ frequently electronic only]and a mediocre photograph of the cane. Sure I have bought canes through this new methodology, but what one see and one gets is a gamble. I know of only one auction house [Kimball Sterling} which will take back and refund if your purchased cane is not what you thought.

 I don’t have a ready answer to the new way of buying from auctions and it is time consuming & costly to fly in for an auction which has less than 20 canes for sale. I do recommend calling the auction house and asking specific questions about the lots. This may help , but I sure miss the good old days at live auctions!

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