Friday, May 29, 2009

House of Zion Auction 76

I sold a bunch of material to Ed Rosen of House of Zion at WestPex, and I took half as cash and half as credit for future stamp purchases from him. The credit was rather large (at least for me), and I was able to bid on items that would normally be out of my price range in his auction last weekend. I bid on 4 total lots, a set of 7-9 plate blocks (the tabs were still, unfortunately out of my reach), and 3 booklets (2B, 3A, and 5B). I just got the results e-mailed to me by Ed. And I am shocked. I won the 7-9 plate blocks, for just over the minimum bid (which was less than a third of catalog value).

However, I was no where close to winning any of the 3 booklets. B2B had a minimum bid of $400, with an estimated value of $1000. The 2004 Bale catalog lists it at $850. It closed at $1900. When you add in the buyers premium, the winner will have paid nearly 2.5 times the catalog value. B3A had a start price of $600, with an estimated value of $1350 and a 2004 Bale catalog value of $1200. It closed at$1650. I checked the other booklets offered, and the majority of the early booklets went for more than the estimates.

So, it looks like the early booklets are hot right now, and their value should be on the rise. Most of the better booklets rarely come up on E-bay, so it is tough to compare. None of the early booklets have sold on E-bay in the past 2 weeks, and only 4 are currently offered for sale (B1, B3B, B5C, and B6). My earlier data from 2007 E-bay tracking shows several sales of the early booklets, most at about half of catalog value. Of course, I wasn't looking at traditional auction realizations then to know if this is normal, or an upward spike.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Did I do the right thing?

Another E-bay situation came up yesterday. A single seller had about 15 lots of maximum cards up for sale, at a start price of $1.99. I was planning on bidding on them just before they closed. I noticed that earlier in the day, someone had bid on all the lots I was interested in. I can't be 100% certain that it was the same person bidding on the lots, but it is highly likely. I bid on the first one, and I bid it up to about $15, before giving up and moving to the next. The same thing happened on the second and third lots. At this point, I gave up on the rest of the lots. I could have bid them all up to the most I would pay for the lot, but I figured the other bidder had bid higher than I was willing to pay on all the lots. I didn't think it was worth it to just drive up the price he would pay, without any chance of me winning the lots. Now, looking back at it, I am wondering if I did a disservice to the seller? He got less for some lots than he would have if I had bid on them. Also, the buyer got a better deal then he would have, and now may have more money in his stamp budget to outbid me on or drive up the price on lots I want in the future. without knowing the buyer, I can't know if it is a zero sum operation for him, where he has a fixed amount to spend, or if he is buying to resell later, or what the situation really is. As an occasional seller, I would hate to have a potential bidder on some lots stop because of what other lots went for. After all, it is not like it cost me to bid on items that I don't win. I guess the lesson I take from this is to not list too many lots that are similar at the same time, or risk losing out on potential bidders. Especially on E-bay, where most lots have a low start price and rely on having bidding wars to establish the value of the items.

Friday, May 15, 2009

E-bay frustrations

I have had some frustrating experiences on E-bay recently. I guess the first one is not just recently, it seems to be becoming a trend. I have seen a bunch of lots offered with 1-2 items that I am interested in, along with a ton of common material that is of no interest to me. This is frustrating, since I either have to overpay for the item I want, and hope to make back enough when I sell the remainders, or just pass on the item. This probably even makes sense from the sellers standpoint. Having a few better (or more interesting) items in the lot will probably get more people bidding on it, therefore giving the seller a better price. But, from a buyer's standpoint, it is terrible. I would rather be able to bid on just the items I want, rather than the lot of duplicates.

The second frustrating thing is that I have been getting outbid on nearly every lot I bid on these past few weeks. There was a set of third coins tete-beche sheets up for sale (each sheet listed separately). While I already have almost 2 full sets, a few of the sheets had differences in the margin perforations (one or 2 edges imperf) then the ones I already own. Since I started collecting plate blocks with margin varieties, I thought I could pick up some of the ones I was missing in these auctions, without having to buy a complete set to just get one new variety. However, I think someone was after a complete set, because I was outbid at the last second on every single one I bid on, despite not bidding myself until ~10 seconds were left in the auction.

I am still watching ~15 items, but most of those are just plate blocks that I am interested in, but not willing to pay the buy it now price. These are all store inventory items, and they have been on my watch list for a few months now. I figure eventually the seller will drop his prices. We shall see.

On another note, looks like I will be going to Jerusalem for work in the middle of June. It doesn't look like I will have any free days in my schedule, but I hope to still meet some of the stamp dealers and collectors over there that I have been corresponding with for the past few years.