Today I purchased, on Ebay, a small antique English wall clock, and that set me thinking about purchasing at auction. The only drawback to purchasing on Ebay is that, generally speaking, there is no opportunity to actually examine the item before bidding. Providing that the item is well illustated, that isn't really the problem it appears. The major benefit of buying on Ebay is that the price at which the hammer falls is the price that the buyer will pay (there is, of course, a charge for posting/delivering the item, but this is usually quite a fair price).
Now follows my main winge about buying at the major auction rooms. People think (and are encouraged to do so by mindless TV programmes on the subject) that the price at which the hammer falls is the price that the buyer will pay. This is not so; there is usually a 'buyer's premium' of around twenty per cent on top of the hammer price, and V.A.T. on that, so that the buyer will be paying around twenty five per cent more that the price he has bid. Let's suppose that you have purchased at auction a rather nice, country made, long case clock, and the hammer falls to your bid of £1,000. When you go to the accounts office your bill will come to around £1,250. That's not all, though. The seller of the clock will be charged an auctioneer's fee of around fifteen per cent of the hammer price. So that of the £1,250 that has actually changed hands the seller will eventually (and it can take a matter of several weeks) receive the auctioneer's cheque for £850 !!!!! This, of course, means that the major auctioneer takes around forty per cent of the clock's value, for catalogueing and selling the item. This seems to me to be a quite exorbitant fee for doing very little. Add to this the cost of travelling to London, staying there overnight between the viewing day and the sale day, and you will see that a good deal of the gilt has been rubbed off the gingerbread for most dealers.
Finished my winge about auctioneers, but I'm sure that you will see why purchasing items on Ebay (always providing you know what you're doing) seems an attractive alternative. Sometimes though Ebay can have daft rules - I knew of a case recently where a 16th century carved bone KNIFE HANDLE was up for sale on Ebay (and your blogger was bidding for it - it was a tiny work of art in its own right) when the Ebay authorities realised the description contained the word 'KNIFE' and insisted that the carved handle be withdrawn from sale immediately. I have long held that the term common sense is the most misused one in the language, in that it is far from common these days.
Oh well, winge now definitely over. Tomorrow my computer engineer is going to try and induce Picasa to insert photographs again. If successful you'll no longer have to put up with unillustrated, long, verbose, diatribes like this evening's. My thanks to anyone who's read to the end of this evening's blog entry, and I wish all of you a very Good Night.