Will Clock Prices Ever Rise Again?

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by Isaac, Jul 9, 2018.

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  1. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I'm surprised it doesn't have more effect than it does. Commissions seem sky high and it is often hard to work out what you are actually paying for.
     
  2. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I believe you are correct, Zedric. I'm sure the auction houses need a profit to run, but to charge both the seller AND the buyer is over the top. I don't attend too many auctions any more for that reason.
     
  3. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    It appears a lot of auction houses built their infrastructure on the prior years of very high (by todays standards) prices on most things antiques. As we have all lamented antiques prices have generally dropped by 50-80% on a fair number of collectibles including a lot of clocks. Brown furniture is almost a give away at many auctions these days. So, in order to support what they need to carry today, most auction houses have raised their rates for buyer and sellers. 20-25% buyer fees are normal these days. Then toss in 3% more if you use a credit card. The add in 3%-5% if you bid on line or use another auction service. Sellers commissions have not faired much better. 15% and up is normal. So, when it is all said nearly 1/2 the "value" of a piece goes to the auction house and other money handlers. Pretty heavy burden that does not add value to a piece. But, what are the alternatives?
     
  4. clocks4u

    clocks4u Registered User
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    Some auctions houses lowered their consignment fee to encourage more consignments. They then passed the rate decrease on to the bidders as a buyers premium.
     
  5. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Based upon some recent experiences with general antiques auctions, I'm shocked at the prices paid for many things. No, generally NOT clocks or brown furniture and the like.

    Fresh to the market painted furniture and folk art is bringing astronomical prices. If it's deemed desirable or blessed by the pezzonovante, there's almost no limit what it will bring. And it often goes to the internet so there's that additional premium paid for the convenience. I also wonder how many of those people paying crazy prices have actually looked at the stuff and realize what they just paid >> top $$ for has restoration, inpainting, or is, well, a down right fake. Or maybe it just doesn't matter?

    I believe that much of the bidding is being done on behalf of a client. Much less risky then putting your own money at stake and you just collect an additional 10% commission. I also think that many "retail" buyers now understand that they can cut out the middle person (dealer) and are now buying at auction without leaving the comfort of home. Some just want it and don't care what they pay.

    Alas, that's not true of clocks and other things. They are left behind.

    I also find that there's a big difference in the competition level for auctions with internet bidding vs. smaller auctions without.

    Another effect of the internet upon auctions is that even if there is no internet bidding, lots are now posted there before hand getting wide exposure. So, fewer and fewer things are falling through the cracks, so to speak. I've been to some local auctions that had a few choice "money shot" lots. Amazing the big guns that for those lots leave bids or were on the phones and drove the price right up.

    RM
     
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  6. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    The alternative is for the auction houses to die in the same way that antiques have. You can raise prices for a while, but there's a limit to what people are willing to spend. I have already dropped out of the game, and I'm certain I'm not alone.
     
  7. zedric

    zedric Registered User

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    The alternative is not necessarily for auction houses to close. Some can operate just fine by renting space on an as-needs basis rather than owning fancy buildings with on-going costs to cover, the costs of which inevitably get on-charged to the public. Even some of the major auction houses do this when running auctions in territories they are not yet established in.

    If auction houses are not to cannibalise the market complete, then the business model may need to change, but there will always be people wanting to buy old goods, so auctions will continue. But comission rates simply cannot keep going up. When the auction house and the financiers get more than the seller, the game is up...
     
  8. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    #208 rmarkowitz1_cee4a1, Sep 4, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
    No.

    The established auction houses (regional, national & international) are where the action is. They can compete for the better and increasingly scarce “merch” & are more likely to get the top $$ they promise to clients.

    Many of these houses won’t even accept cosignments they appraise below a certain value as it it isn’t financially worth their while.

    Many of these bigger houses also can offer anything from antiquities to midcentury modern thus able to serve a broader client base & respond to market conditions.

    They offer internet bidding, marketing, a loyal following and other advantages. I don’t know if they’re doing this much anymore, but some extended credit to consigners and even to buyers (the latter had the effect of headline prices with those sales ultimately never completed as the buyers defaulted!).

    Smaller houses do fill the other price & quality nitches but some are falling by the wayside along with many brick & mortar shops (true of retail in general, no?)

    RM
     
  9. claussclocks

    claussclocks Registered User
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    I agree. You win an auction and they charge you 18% as an upcharge for winning. I avoid those auctions like a plague.
     
  10. claussclocks

    claussclocks Registered User
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    I believe I know the museum you are talking about. Wasn't that here in Texas?
     
  11. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    #211 mauleg, Sep 5, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
    Please bear in mind that I've never attended an auction in person, as the commute is just too darned long. With the exception of the 4 clocks I purchased at this year's national, my entire (very modest by some standards) collection has been purchased via "the famous auction site". That said, a few observations from my isolated, smaller-budget perspective:

    It seems as if "the famous auction site" offers everything listed above (except, arguably, "top $$"), in addition to unparalleled market size and much more modest fees. As a buyer, it seems that the primary advantage of attending an auction in person is direct interaction with the object up for bid. After 23 years, perhaps "the famous auction site" is becoming an "established auction house". It's sure set standards in terms of buyer advocacy.
     
  12. RAK

    RAK Registered User
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    Having just returned a weekend ago from an auction, I can say that you need to constantly consider what you are actually bidding. The buyer's "premium" (seems like a misnomer - should be something like "surcharge") was 21% and the local taxes, I believe, were 6.5%. I think if I would have stayed home and used Liveauctioneers or Invaluable, or Ebay it was 26%. Anyway, I just rounded it up to 30% in my head when doing the calculations. I have to say adding 30% mentally starts to take a toll on your bidding. A $300 item is $400... ugh! I think the prices suffered, and as mentioned before, that makes for bad marketing for the auction house.

    There will come a day (in the master plan that's 20 years from now) when my handful of clocks need to move to a new owner. I have changed my mind several times already as to which auction house I would like to handle the liquidation. I think I'm back on board with one that doesn't charge the highest surcharge... er, I mean premium, and as a bonus doesn't have state taxes. I see a huge advantage to that format to the in house buying public and therefore, the sales prices may be a bit higher (relatively speaking). Of course, a lot can change in 20 year... but it's always good to have a plan.

    Bob
     
  13. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    I feel that the electronic auction site in fact functions in a fundamentally different way than those who would be considered a reputable (and that opinion varies) auctioneer or auction house. I consider it something of an apples to oranges comparison.

    The electronic site is usually (not always) individuals posting object(s) for sale. I find most of the eBay stuff is about 99% garbage. I can't tell you how many times I have heard someone designate basically junk as the perfect "eBay lot". Yes, some goodies pop up and it's why I constantly check it and have purchased some good things and often not for the short money. So there are others doing the same.

    The auctioneers I have in mind have established reputations and a following and are trusted, for better or for worse. They will have staff answering questions about condition and forwarding additional pictures. The goal is usually to talk it up. As mentioned in my original post, more and more are declining lesser consignments as their costs for an item of little value are the same as those for a big ticket item. Frankly, a lot of those lesser things wind up on the electronic site.

    Undoubtedly eBay has had an undeniable and irrevocable effect on the entire business (as has Amazon upon the way people buy stuff). I still maintain that auctions are where the action seems to be and where top $$ MAY be achieved though what was top $$ then is not, especially for clocks, brown furniture and other objects, nearly what it once was.

    RM
     
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  14. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Ebay is generally, for antiques, more expensive than auction. If it weren't there wouldn't be a business mode of buy at auction sell on ebay. It doesn't always work out but the substantial gains outweigh the occasional losses. I have bought an item on ebay for less than the vendor bought it (incl fees) at auction, but that is rare.

    I have rarely visited an auction house to view, I normally bid on pictures, and some auction houses go out of their way to supply them. That is worth paying for, as are decent condition reports and expert opinions.

    I'm not sure the ebay business model works for the best clocks, but anything under £10k seems to work for the vendors I see.
     
  15. Sam-Sam-Sam

    Sam-Sam-Sam Registered User

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    watches might, but clocks probably not imho
     
  16. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    You don't say. I tried to get into watches, but they're too boring for me.
     
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  17. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    That made me laugh.


    Rob
     
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  18. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    Just yanking your chain.
     
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  19. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    For me , they are too small. Whatever I try, I won't fit in.

    Uhralt
     
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  20. brian fisher

    brian fisher Registered User
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    a blast from the past!

    since the subject has come back to the surface, myself and some friends have noticed a few strong traditional auction results recently. a couple months ago, attended one in san antonio. none of us bought a single item. maybe not 2005 prices, but none-the-less.....

    now...it doesn't mean to imply values are rising as a whole. it was encouraging though.
     
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  21. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    I attribute stronger auction prices as seasonal.
    As well as availability. Either a lot of good clocks are not for sale, or the selection is not as good because the good clocks have been picked (is that the same thing?). But I agree, this winter prices have been stronger than the last couple years. I suppose people have more spending money in their pockets.
    Novicetimekeeper and I have been watching some auctions in England. Prices are high for whatever the reason, bargains are very difficult to find.

    I watched some of the clocks that were in that auction in Austin. I noticed there were many Black Forest clocks especially older cuckoos, and the demand for them is usually strong and shouldn't be underestimated.

    The auction where I found my latest, a coffin clock, prices were strong...not necessarily for clocks. There were a few passed lots, but some lots were high priced, at least in my opinion. Prices for items other than clocks were higher than I would've thought. Never underestimate people who are perhaps bored with Winter that want to spend a little money. Even though this year it's been an easy, mild Winter.
     
  22. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    I too have noted some up tick. I follow any # of auctions & have been surprised how strongly NICE things sell. No, generally still not the prices of yore, yet. Yes, many things still clogging the bowl.

    Unemployment is at at a historic low as are interest rates.

    Housing prices are up. People who own now may have some equity.

    Gas prices not too insane.

    At least in the Northeast, a mild winter. Let me hasten to add there are parts of the US that have had a real bad time of it this winter & my heart goes out to them. The point is, haven’t needed to fill the oil tank of my leaky old house as often.

    Just a few thoughts about why people may feel they have some discretionary income to spend??

    BUT, this is all pre-Corona.

    RM
     
  23. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    random thoughts:

    it seems to me that there are those of us who collect clocks and have more than one, and people who might like a certain piece, or inherit a piece and get a bit of interest.

    My clock mentor is 83. He has lost at least five or 6 close collector friends in just the last two years... guys like ron bechler, also older. the old guard who has kept the faith is shrinking... faster than new clock people are arriving to replace them. heirs are trying to move the clocks, but it’s a slow process... and reminds me of the last scene in raiders of the lost ark where the government actually has a warehouse filled with other arks. it’s harder to sell a pile of clocks vs. a clock... and yet selling one clock takes time and prep, and includes logistics that must be addressed.

    those of us who collect clocks like deals... and quality. we want top dollar for our clocks because we know what we paid for them and put into them... but we prefer not to pay retail, premiums or taxes... if possible. and, at some point, maybe get to a place where we don’t need or want yet another project to add to the ones already waiting for us to get back to them.

    also at some point, we check out... and our heirs are hopefully able to sell our better clocks, but loose movements, marriage clocks, special case clocks (ie, nice clock that needs non-trivial repair) circle closer to the cosmic drain. i hope they survive, but yo never know. i do know that my sister/executor has no idea what she’s in for... even w detailed notes for each clock.

    my sense is that the number of collectors is shrinking. that despite our efforts the number of clocks dying or getting parted out is increasing.

    the value of something is determined by the market. there are clocks and parts i’ve seen listed on ebay for years now.

    we are the market.... and we’re getting older. overall there aren’t that many of us (in the greater scheme of things) and i don’t see a flood (many at all?j new players rushing in eagerly to learn all about and surround themselves with clocks.... like i’ve done over the last 5 or 6 years.

    old stuff is still desirable to many, and the more desirable clocks will survive... but we know the diff between the ‘oh my’ ones and more run of the mill.

    feels like a diminishing to me... perhaps metrics around these issues would be a great project for a statistician or futurist with a thing for clocks... including density maps showing where the most collectors and collections can be found, ages (of both), prices, etc. :cool:
     
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  24. brian fisher

    brian fisher Registered User
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    yes, there were indeed loads of cuckoos paying loads of money for cuckoos.

    the collection was extremely diverse though. i recall one old guy bought many brass clocks. in my opinion, he paid well over 2x what i thought they should have sold for. he bought (i think) three morbiers without cabinets. seems like they sold for around 600 each. they weren't anything special in my estimation.
     
  25. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    Morbiers or Comtoise are my most browsed clock type on Ebay France. I only own one, but it's a doozy. But every day I look at them....I didn't have any interest in them until about 2 years ago. I always took for granted that they are plentiful and common. But the kind that are for sale in France, good 18th century examples, plentiful and inexpensive (usually under 300 Euro). However, the one-handed examples, and 17th century- mid 18th century Comtoise, significantly more. Those earlier type you don't see many on this side of the Atlantic. But usually you're buying the movement only, that's how they're listed. And usually 100+ Euro to safely ship to here. Those clocks have all sorts of interesting movements. They are inexpensive there, but usually sell for solid prices here (and have a solid demand here).
     
  26. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    Well, there were even more cuckoos in Mesquite this week. One party had 78 of them and sold every one. In the group was a 4 1/2 foot tall flute clock in need of a serious restoration. It sold, the price I heard asked was substantial, what it sold for I don't know. Hmm, 10 tables of cuckoo clocks and I didn't buy a one. And you missed a 10 foot tall Durfee 9 tube in a truly outrageous case. I understand it sold too.

    20200305_140448.jpg 20200305_131409.jpg 20200305_131352.jpg 20200305_124652.jpg 20200305_124649.jpg 20200305_124623.jpg 20200306_071812.jpg 20200306_071818.jpg 20200306_071823.jpg 20200305_134514.jpg
     
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  27. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    There is a large exhibit of Black Forest clocks planned for the National Meeting in Dayton. It will be in the Mart Room on the left where cluster A1 would otherwise be.
     
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  28. PatH

    PatH National Program Chair
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    I totally missed the Durfee - where was it? (So, no, I wasn't the one who bought it!). I never even made it around the entire room.
     
  29. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Was this a chapter meeting or a regional?

    If the former, sort of drives home how paltry the meetings around here have become.

    RM
     
  30. PatH

    PatH National Program Chair
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    Regional - traditionally the first of the year around here. The Chapter meetings are not nearly as large or active.
     
  31. claussclocks

    claussclocks Registered User
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    I missed the Durfee too. Saw some nice clocks and managed to keep myself under control. Bought mostly supplies and tools I needed.

    DPC
     
  32. brian fisher

    brian fisher Registered User
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    dang it Chris! Now you have me watching comtoise on eBay France! I really like that three train movement, but the crack smoking price.....

    I have the opportunity to potentially buy a complete three train locally for half and I thought that was a crazy number.


    I missed out on this one again this year. I had to “make the donuts” this weekend unfortunately. I probably would have come home with one of those cuckoo shelf clocks. In order to sell 78 that fast, I would guess they must have sold for a very reasonable price. That must have been someone’s lifetime collection.
     
  33. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    I'm not sure which 3-train you saw. If it was too expensive, keep watching. There are plenty of them. 3 bell is the norm. 4 bell is supposed to increase the price. 5 bell is rare, but I think there's one listed somewhere now. Usually 3 train is 1000+ for 18th century - early 19th century. Later 19th century 3 train a bit less.
    There are plenty of 30 day examples, too. They can be found 300-350. I'm not sure if there is a 30 day weight clock that is less expensive.
    But not all sellers will ship to the USA.

    It took me a while to buy one. I made up my mind I wanted either one that was in really good condition, or a very unusual one. And I was unsuccessful at many attempts. But I think I found one that more or less met both my criteria.
    The French connection: 18th c. 3-train Comtoise, pinwheel escapement
    I found this last August when the market was a little slow. I think it's unusual because it has a crown wheel escapement with a pinwheel anchor. But also it's a 3 train. The condition is good, but there are a couple cartouche that were repaired on the dial. Anyway I'm not sure I can top this one.
    The 18th century examples are not too large in size, but they are heavier than their 19th century counterparts.
     
  34. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Thanks for the info.

    RM
     
  35. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    I like the Mesquite show. I drive 1000 miles to attend. There are things to buy, and there are buyers for what you bring. Nice people, exhibits and programs...

    I consider it one of the best Regionals going.

    Ralph
     
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