Taking My Hacks

The Makeup of a Good Auction House

Joe Orlando


As collectors, we have a ton of options these days when it comes time to sell. There is a nice selection of high-end auction houses and national level dealers to choose from. Now, of course, some people choose to sell things themselves via the Internet but taking on the role of the seller can be a burden and result in a lot of unnecessary headaches along the way. These days, most people are choosing to consign their items to auction houses.

So, what makes an auction house a good one?

This is a topic I could discuss in the great length but, since we have space constraints, I will keep it brief.

First and foremost, you need to make sure the auction house or dealer is doing everything they can to generate the best price for you. I know this sounds like common sense but it is of the utmost importance. Some auctioneers will try to lure consignors by offering huge cash advances, low commission rates or try to save you money up front by having your items authenticated or graded by a second-tier service.

The only thing that matters is that the auction house works hard and intelligently to put the most money in your pocket. If you are consigning an autograph, bat, glove, jersey, photo, ticket, trophy, unopened pack or a group of ungraded cards to an auction, the most important factor listed above is to make sure the auctioneer has the items authenticated and graded by the company who can help generate the highest possible price if the items warrant 3rd party service at all.

This is where you need to do your own research. Don't be fooled! Auction houses may have special arrangements with authentication and grading services that benefit them but not you – the consignor. This may include but not be limited to things like enhancing personal relationships or lower service fees. Sure, the auction house may be saving a few dollars for themselves on the front end and try to convince you that they are doing the same for you but they may be ignoring the end goal.

For example, one service can charge $10 to certify an item while another charges $30. The auctioneer may argue that you – the consignor – are saving $20 in this equation. What they fail to mention is that the $10 service provider has a far weaker market share, resulting in fewer buyers for their product and fewer bidders for your item. So, the $20 you save on the front end is outweighed by the $100 or more you might lose on the back end from generating the highest possible price.

At PSA, we take pride in the fact that we have the ability to authenticate and grade a greater diversity of collectibles than any of our competitors, however, there are some collectibles that we don't have the ability to certify as of yet. The key for the consignor is to identify what services are best suited for your potential consignment, whether PSA offers the service or not. A good auction house will answer that question for you and do the right thing but not all auction houses have your best interests in mind.

Putting together an attractive catalogue, a user-friendly website, a powerful mailing list, writing excellent lot descriptions, building a solid reputation, offering great customer service and paying consignors in a timely fashion are all important too. Each of these factors can separate a great auction house from a mediocre one but, at the end of the day, putting more dollars in your pocket is what ultimately matters most no matter how they get there.

Choosing the right authentication and grading service is a huge part of ensuring optimum success so be prudent and choose an auction house that will do the best job for you. You owe it to yourself.


Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief