Reflections on the Vicissitudes of Life

It can be hard work being a collector. Apart from the searching, the accumulation of knowledge and the scraping together of cash (there is never enough of it, and your spending is never sufficiently concealed from your wife), there is the feeling that the universe is heaping more trials on your head.

I just bid on five lots in auction. I got none. In two cases I sent in speculative bids so this wasn’t a surprise. In one case I found some interesting information that wasn’t in the catalogue, but so, it seems, did someone else, as they outbid me. In two cases, where the lots went for approximately four times the estimate, I was left scratching my head. I know that estimates generally have little bearing on the eventual price of the item, and had bid double estimate. But for them to go for double my bid? I am left bemused by the world and feel, as mentioned, that the Universe is having  a laugh.

I’m not altogether in favour of auctioneers.

Auctioneers used to take a percentage off the sellers as payment. About 30 years ago they also started taking a percentage off the bidders. That percentage now seems to have risen to around 25%. So, for providing premises, “expertise” (which varies, and is mainly guesswork and breezy overconfidence) and photographs on the internet, the auctioneer gets around 50% of the value of the item.

And to cap it all, when they sell something for many times the estimate, they advertise it as a success. If I estimate something to be worth £100 and it turned out to be worth £10,000, I’d be embarrassed at my lack of expertise. But every week you see auctioneers in the Antiques Trade Gazette boasting of their “success” at doing similar things.

Don’t get me wrong, I like auctioneers. They are cheery and entertaining (in the main) and life would be poorer without them, as would daytime TV. However, there are, I assume, specialists in leeches, and they presumably feel cheered and entertained when looking at a jar of blood-gorged slimy parasites.

Just saying . . .

The picture is from our last wet and depressing trip to Stoke. It mirrors my current mood.


8 thoughts on “Reflections on the Vicissitudes of Life

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      They are very interesting places to see human nature in action. Having said that, I once went to one that was so slow I fell asleep whilst sitting on a sofa that was one of the lots. Embarrassing!


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