Whether you’re adding to a set of state quarters or you’re tracking down every Stephen King novel, collecting items can be a fun and rewarding endeavor. It’s easy to find hidden gems to add to your collection in online auctions – you just need to know what to look for. The Internet has made collecting things easier than ever, but a few caveats come along with this ease-of-access. Scammers can easily prey on customers from all over the world. In the world of collectibles, they know there is a market for forged signatures, cheap replicas and fake artwork. The best way to avoid a rip-off is to choose a trusted auction platform, but there are some other steps you can take to make sure you get a great deal:
Know Your Seller
Anyone can write a product description full of words like rare, one-of-a-kind or museum quality, but that doesn’t make it accurate. Start by looking into a seller’s reputation – it matters as much as the product you’re buying. While there are plenty of trustworthy individual sellers, you’re taking more of a chance with them than a reputable online auction house. You can’t always trust reviews about sellers, as many create fake accounts to boost their own ratings. Sometimes a seller will respond to customer emails and provide timely shipping to receive good reviews, even though they know they’re selling inferior products. There’s nothing worse than winning an auction only to find out you’ve been duped, so stay smart.
Study Similar Items
If you’re just starting a collection, it can be challenging to understand the market for the products you’re interested in. You need to know exactly what you’re looking for and the price you’re willing to pay. You’re not just collecting items, you’re collecting knowledge about those items, and the place to start is within past online auctions. You can see exactly how much other people were willing to pay for something, and set an automatic bid around the same amount at an upcoming auction. Look for the websites dedicated to collectors, with resources for determining a product’s value. You can even reach out to experts, who make a profession out of your collection – they might be happy to share what they know.
Ask for Documentation
The biggest mistake you can make when buying collectibles at auction is to take an unknown party’s word as fact. If your seller isn’t a respected and well-known expert willing to vouch for a product’s authenticity, make sure they have the proper documentation from someone who is. Anyone can claim Teddy Roosevelt once owned the postage stamps they’re selling, but very few can prove it. Unless there is a written record or solid picture evidence, assume items listed as rare are fakes. Signatures are especially tricky to verify, as anyone with a sharpie has the power to forge one. Look for graded certificates from trusted professionals on most items related to sports stars or celebrities. Mint condition items often go for a lot of money, because they are harder to find than collectibles with flaws. Impressive claims require impressive evidence, and rare collectibles are no exception.
You can’t build a collection with a single item, which means you’ll be making plenty of purchases. Online auctions are the ideal place to find collectibles, because virtually anything can be put up for bid. Collecting shoelaces from NBA Finals champions? There’s probably an auction for that somewhere – and any other obscure product category that people are interested in. Do your homework, and you’ll come across some great prices you wouldn’t find at an ordinary store. Go in without a plan, and you could get burned with a bad deal. When we hold collectible auctions, you will know exactly what you’re getting, and you can even examine the items in person before you buy. If you’re a model train aficionado, you’re in luck – we have an auction full of inventory from Osseo Train World opening on August 4th. Add to your collection with Auction Masters!