Years ago, purchasing something at auction was a relatively rare event. Auctions were something you would go to during your vacation in the countryside and what typically came to mind when the term "auction" was mentioned was the purchase of horses, cattle or cars. Today that has all changed with the introduction of web based auctioneers such as EBAY and Yahoo auctions, people are now buying everything from art to clothes to xylophones. Who knows, EBAY may even offer an occasional horse or zebra for sale.


With the ever increasing popularity of auction as a method of exchange comes the ever increasing need to learn about auction bidding strategy. All of us probably have our favorite auction story relating to either how we made out like bandits or like fools, with the latter probably the more frequent occurrence. I have managed to do both despite being the son of a New York City auctioneer and one who would like to consider himself an expert in the ways of the auction.

For example, in one particular coin auction, the auctioneer put up for sale a large box filled with hundreds of coins which he claimed were "unsearched" and contained many key dates. Upon seeing the box, my heart beat faster and faster, and in my emotionally excited state, I never bothered to ask myself how the auctioneer knew that the box contained key dates if it was supposedly "unsearched".

I bid from the beginning to the end and in the end, that's where I got it, paying probably three times what I originally wanted to pay! The box contained all common date coins and not one coin was a key date except for a damaged penny in which someone scratched a design in the form of a key across the face of lincoln. Real funny huh!

So what do we learn from this example?

First, when bidding, let your ego remain at home. Many people get into a bidding war with others, not necessarily because they believe that the merchandise is worth it, but rather because they do not want the "other guy" to win. It's ok if the other guy wins, especially if you have to pay many times the value of the lot to prove otherwise.

Secondly, and relatedly do not let your emotional side get the best of you. Many people feel a rush when a lot they wish to purchase is shown to them. If you let your emotions drive you bidding you are guaranteed to purchase the product for much more than you originally wanted to. What should be done to avoid this, is to inspect the lot in advance (if possible) and then to write down a price that you feel is the maximum you would be willing to spend on the item. Then write down a second price which is 10% higher allowing you, in the heat of the action, to increase your bid to that upper level.

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