THE LONDON FREE PRESS
SATURDAY, August 26, 1995
By Nancy Sheppard
“….John McKenzie, of London’s Associated Auctioneers Inc., believes auctions are an excellent marketplace for shopping. He’s been an auctioneer for 17 years.
You will actually help determine the final price of the items you purchase and you’re buying exactly what you want, at a cost of only one bid higher than someone else was willing to pay. It’s the No. 1 best place to buy yourself any commodity.
“Auctions are also the best means of getting fair market value for any item in the marketplace,” says McKenzie.
Some people may not be shopping at auctions because they’re not sure how to conduct themselves, and they don’t know what their responsibilities are as buyers. So, here is a crash course in auction etiquette for anyone in search of a great bargain, a hidden treasure, or a collector’s item.
Prior to every auction, time is set aside for potential buyers to examine items on the block. This is your opportunity to examine the items in which you are interested. In most cases, the auctioneer, or a staff member, is available to answer any questions you might have about the item. If the item you wish to see is under glass, as is the case with jewelry, coins, stamps and other small collectibles, simply ask the auctioneer to open the case for you. As a potential buyer, it is your responsibility to ensure you know exactly what it is you are bidding on.
McKenzie advises buyers to view items prior to the sale so they can determine how much they’re willing to spend on the item before it goes on the block.
Remember, the auctioneer is working for the consignor and himself. His intention is to get the best price on the item, as his payment is a percentage of the total sales. To that end, the consignor and auctioneer work together in putting items in boxes which they feel complement each other well and will fetch the best price.
McKenzie says auction bidding is not something to be afraid of.
You will not buy the farm because you scratched your nose. An auctioneer realizes when you are bidding seriously.
Granted, the auctioneer’s chant can be intimidating for the uninitiated. But McKenzie says the best thing to do is listen for the prices and not worry about the ‘filler words’ in between…
Whether you are a buyer or a consignor, McKenzie recommends you check to see if the auctioneer is a member of either the National Auctioneers Association, the Auctioneers Association of Canada, or the Auctioneers Association of Ontario.
The auctioneer should also be able to provide potential clients (consignors) with references.
And, despite their long history, auctions are a modern method of sale today. Recorded history describes auctions in 500 B.C. and later during the Roman Empire, says McKenzie. The Oxford Dictionary has the earliest English reference to auctions as 1595.
Today, auction are being held via computer satellites with bidding coming from across the country. McKenzie calls it a modern application of a time-honoured idea.