Auction 7 Followup #7 — Bidding Analysis

Here is a strong realization from the British Commonwealth Section.


Lot 927; realized $488

This lot estimated at $200 received nine advance bids, then opened and sold to the book at $425 against the top bid of $575. That was strong but this next lot was spectacular:


Lot 975; realized $1840.

When we estimated this at $100 we clearly did not anticipate the demand. We received seven advance bids and opened it at $700. The internet attacked our top book bid and up it went to sell for a hammer of $1600 which was $400 below the top bid.

We know from the questions people ask us that there is both a lot of curiosity about how auctions are run, and there are also a lot of misconceptions.

In Auction #7 we had 1846 lots and before the auction started we received from traditional sources like mail and also the internet a total of 7140 bids or very nearly four bids for every lot. That is an impressive total.

If a mathematician was asked to randomly distribute numbers into 1846 categories, the distribution would look nothing like the actual distribution in the bidbook. I gave these figures to an experienced auctiongoer who is conversant with mathematics and asked him to guess how many bids were received for the lot which received the most. His answer was 41; the correct answer is 12.

How many of the lots received no bids prior to the auction? I didn’t count but it was about twelve or a bit more.  How many received ten or more? Also about a dozen with one at twelve and a handful at eleven and ten; nine was not much higher but eight bids was a significantly larger figure. The two “flattest” sections with very few highs and lows were the Healy Pass collection and B.N.A. In those two sections virtually every lot received three, four, five, or six bids.

Where did the bids come from? The top five countries were Canada, USA, Singapore, U.K., and Cyprus. After the auction when we look at who was successful the top countries were Canada, USA, U.K., Singapore and Norway. The USA is catching up to Canada, and the U.K. is typically third or fourth.

How many bidders came from the internet and how many from other sources (live on the floor, mail etc.)? There was a total of 540 different bidders, 283 came through the internet. However there were a few dozen bidders who both gave us advance bids and bid on the internet; or were on the floor for part of the auction and on the internet for part. It would take too long to sort it out but it is safe to say that half the bidders come from the internet and half the traditional way. Another thing which is important is that many of the longer invoices were from bidders who used the internet AND a traditional venue.

How many “stink” bids did we get? Some people put in a “watching” bid on the internet and are perhaps prepared to pay the full estimate and “watch” it by bidding $2; then if the lot opens above the estimate we see no further bid. It is a subjective call whether a low bid is watching or is a bid where someone hopes that no one else will bid on the mint $5 Jubilee and he will buy it for a tiny fraction of its value. If we isolate stink bids, the number is very, very low and perhaps under one percent.

All of these figures (although possibly boring to many!) tell consignors that there is an active market and all types of philatelic material can attract enough bidding that usually full market price will be realized. To our bidders: don’t despair, there are still bargains to be had!

During the next few months we will update you on the consignments for the next auction which will be in the Spring.  We have already received an amazing amount only three weeks after Auction 7.  Check back here regularly for news.

Auction 7 Followup #6 — More Highlights Revisited

In Auction 7 we tried some “under the radar” promotion and it seemed to be successful. In Auction 6 we had a solid total of 378 different bidders; in Auction 7 that number jumped beyond our expectations to 540 different bidders. The number of successful bidders also increased from 240 to 294. E-mails and other comments we have received are uniformly complimentary. Thank you everyone. It is less than three weeks since the end of the auction and the consignments already in hand promise a bigger and better auction in the spring.

Two of our pre-Auction highlights were headed “What appeals to you?” and we listed or offered a bit of a write-up on on seven lots and one group of lots which were interesting in one way or another.

The group of lots from the Lindhurst collection had some incredible realizations especially in the British Commonwealth sections. Lot 1805 had Oman to Zululand was estimated at $200 and opened at $120 but just kept going up and up, the floor not prepared to lose this one until it reached $1100. Other British Commonwealth lots from this owner — as well as other consignors — sold for multiples of the estimate. Another Lindhurst lot mentioned in the highlights because there were twenty pages of scans on the internet (but none in the catalogue) was Lot 1880 Germany estimated at $750, opened at $400 and sold to the internet for $900.

The individual lots we talked about which appealed to us had mixed but mostly positive results. In Lot order they are:

  • Lot 1928 a collector’s worldwide accumulation estimated at $500 opened at $300 and sold to the floor for $850.
  • Lot 1957 Four old-time albums estimated at $250 opened at $275 and sold to the internet for $675.
  • Lot 1962 An 1896 Excelsior Album estimated at $750 opened and sold for $800 to the book.
  • Lot 1963 the “I will never get it finished” lot estimated at $500 had 11 advance bids (two at $525, then $500 and so on) and sold to the internet for $575.  (In a later highlight I will give some figures on lots which received more than ten advance bids.)
  • Lot 1986 a specialized Eastern Europe estimated at $500 opened at $190 and sold to the floor for $275.
  • Lot 2021 a large volume of modern Poland unlisted labels etc. estimated at $300 opened at $160 and sold to the floor for $190.

Auction 7 Followup #5 — Strong Admirals

After yesterday’s highlight of the one cent lemon yellow we will look at two other strong realizations.

Lot 469 — Canada #111 1914 5¢ “Prussian” blue Admiral, deep fresh colour, immaculate, extremely fine, mint never hinged. A lovely shade. Unitrade CV$600; realized $606.

This five cent had several strong advance bids with the second highest being one increment below the high bid on the book.  It took the floor only one bid and this lovely stamp sold to a discriminating collector from Ottawa.

Lot 490 — Canada #126a 1924 1¢ yellow Admiral part-perforate, vertical pair, mint never hinged, extremely fine. This issue is actually
surprisingly scarce in true extremely fine quality. Unitrade CV$60; realized $138.

Often these imperforate-between issues are frowned on as “philatelic.”  However they are seldom this well-centered and as a result this attracted some strong bids to open at $120 which is double catalogue.  Although no one wanted to challenge the high advance bid, this was our top bid and one more bid would have been successful.

In our pre-auction highlights we featured five unique (by virtue of being from the Madagascar Archives) lots from Canada and three unique lots in the worldwide section (two of these were proofs with printer’s notations and notes, the third some original artwork for an Israeli stamp). We cannot report world record realizations for these. Seven of the eight came from one consignor and he was happy because the items sold for more than he expected. However perhaps the fact that all were unique influenced our judgment in estimating. Three sold above our internal estimate and five just below; in one case the hammer was $800 on an estimate of $1500.  That lot will please the new owner who had a top bid of $1100.

In writing these commentaries it is tempting to highlight the successes.  When we overestimate we want to know why. Well, in the case of unique lots the collector instinct in us gets excited.  We won’t apologize for that.

Auction 7 Followup #4 — Multiple Bidders

We will be featuring a number of lots which strong realizations as a result of competition from a number of bidders.  On some lots we achieve an excellent realization but someone wanted it enough that it might have gone into the stratosphere if there had been an underbidder equally determined.

Lot 454 — Canada #105e 1922 1¢ lemon yellow Admiral, Die I, wet printing, fresh immaculate, very fine, never hinged. Unitrade CV$180; realized $231.

The top bidder is an astute advanced collector who gives us strong bids but is often outbid or the competition forces the bidding to the limit of his top bid. This lot he purchased for less than half his top bid.

And this is not the first time that has happened.  In the past there have been other occasions and I look at them and realize that this collector’s appreciation of rarity and quality in the Admirals can teach me something whenever he buys for a fraction of his top bid.  I knew the lemon yellow colour deserved a decent premium in the Unitrade catalogue; actually it deserves a much larger premium.

In this “after the sale” highlight we also review pre-sale Highlights #5 and #11.

Lot 380 the HUGE six cent hinged 1897 Leaf issue attracted little attention and sold to Japan at a hammer of $75, slightly more than half the top bid.

Lot 523; realized $195. Another Jumbo, and this time never hinged. This attracted a bit more attention but sold for a reasonable price and to the same bidder from Japan below his top bid. Obviously the fact that we pointed out these jumbos did not especially help the realizations as both stamps might have attracted a bidding war.

In Highlight #11 we featured a new variety which did not reach the estimate (Lot 819) and also a lovely and scarce stamp of Newfoundland.

Lot 838 — Newfoundland #43 1896 1¢ brown Prince of Wales, fresh, mint with never hinged original gum, extremely fine. Accompanied by 2010 Greene Foundation certificate. A rare stamp in this quality.  Unitrade CV$525; realized $690.

This lot had several strong bids and opened at $525 before the floor took it to the top of the bid book.

Auction 7 Followup #3 — Used Bluenoses

Used Bluenoses

We offered three lots of used Canada Bluenoses (Scott #158) and they attracted spirited bidding.  Lot 533 was a wholesale lot with perfins and included other stamps.  All stamps had creases from usage and our estimate was $200.  With only two advance bids it opened at $130 but the floor and the internet quickly bid this up to $375 where it sold to an internet bidder.

Lot 534 — Canada #158 1929 50¢ dark blue Bluenose, well centered pair with CNR perfin, creases from usage else very fine. Unitrade CV$200; realized $230.

This pair of Bluenoses with creases also attracted only two advance bids with an opening bid of $26 but a determined battle between the floor and the internet resulted in a very strong hammer price of $200, well above our estimate of $75.

Lot 535 — 1929 50¢ dark blue Bluenose, an attractive used block with London, Ontario 1935 postmark, fine-very fine. Unitrade CV$300; realized $431.

This attractive block of four with a somewhat late 1935 postmark opened quite strongly at $160 but the internet challenged the top book bid of $350 and it sold for one increment above that; another one which was more than twice our internal estimate.

We continue our look back at the pre-auction highlights, this time with the local stamps featured in highlights 4 and 9. We featured the section of seven lots of Canadian locals with Lot 723.


Lot 723; realized $241.

This lot, estimated at $150, opened strongly at $210 and there was no further bidding, resulting in a bidder who did not have to pay his maximum.


Lot 1249; realized $373.

We featured three lots of locals in the worldwide section. Lot 1249, the Himmler Head, was estimated at a modest $100 and opened at $170 and the floor, internet, and book all competed to end up at a hammer price of $325.  Lot 1874, 150 World War Two local issues estimated at $500, sold for a hammer of $950 with competition from the book and the floor.  Finally we come to Lot 1899 estimated at $500.  If I had ventured an opinion as to which of these three would attract the strongest bids, my choice would have been this lot.  It did attract a fair number of bids and opened at $450 and quickly sold to the advance book bid of $500 somewhat below the top bid.