Skinner Inc.

Auctioneers and Appraisers

The Pawn Star Effect, Part 3

Here’s the last of three of the interesting consignor personalities I meet. Unlike the Dreamer and the Realist, who both cherish their antiques but have wildly different expectations as to their values, the Skeptic doesn’t really believe that the world of antiques has a place for her, although she enjoys watching Pawn Stars or Antiques Roadshow often enough—mostly for the feel-good human interest side of those shows.

The SkepticThe Skeptic

Expectations
That you’ll cure her boredom, or at least help her kill a little time.

Opening line
“There’s no way this thing is like that one I saw on TV, but I was bored and my friends made me come here, so whatever…”

The Interaction
The Skeptic is a rare breed. A watcher of antiques-related shows on TV, the Skeptic has never stopped to think that she may own an object of antique value, despite her exposure to the miracles happening on PBS every Monday night. In fact, she is usually prompted by friends who tell her that the object might be worth showing to someone who knows better. She has no sentimental attachment to the old painting/sampler/whale’s tooth/art deco brooch/lamp that has always been in her closet/basement/underwear drawer/sideboard/barn.

The Skeptic usually thinks her item is ugly, boring, creepy, or all three, and our efforts center on convincing her that we DO want to actually put the thing in an auction, and that people may actually pay money for it. The appraiser’s glowing words are met with an indifferent shrug and “so I can leave this here now, right?”

Results of a Consignment
First off, after learning the wonderful news that she doesn’t have to return her Philadelphia Chippendale chair to the back seat of her Oldsmobile, or that she doesn’t have to repack her peacock-colored Sandwich glass and lug it back up to the attic, she will consign. All Skeptics do. Despite a cheerful end to the auction process, and even after she has been proven wrong about the worthiness of her object every step of the way, the Skeptic’s last words are often “I still can’t believe anyone wanted that.”

Are you a Skeptic?
What are you waiting for? Don’t put your family’s old duck decoy in the trunk in the attic and forget about it – put it in the trunk of your car and bring it here! You never know, someone may actually pay good money for it!

15 thoughts on “The Pawn Star Effect, Part 3

  1. Pingback: The Pawn Stars Effect Part 2 | Life in the Antiques Business

  2. How would you label me Chris? I bring what I think is good stuff to Skinner, but say nothing — positive or negative. The Skinner guy who looks at my items gushes about how much he likes my things. He assigns estimates; I’m happy. Results: I take the proverbial bath — losing thousands of dollars. Maybe you can label me “the profoundly disappointed!”

    • Our job as the auctioneers of any object is to publicize its sale and to motivate the largest possible pool of bidders for that object. When we’ve done that, and an object doesn’t sell as well as we thought it would, it disappoints us, too. The auction market is prone to a degree of uncertainty that no one can predict.

      • You sold most of my items way, way below the low estimate. If your person taking in the items didn’t gush so much about my things, maybe I would feel differently, but he built up my expectations. I think it’s time for me to write, as a counterpart to your blogs, a piece that categorizes auctioneers. Stay tuned.

    • One source defines a so-called “flame” as “an abusive message about another person.” My post was in no way abusive. By the way, I thought Chris’s characterizations of people who consign could be construed as belittling .

  3. @coleman. Chris is right, there are no guarantees in life. The only thing that can be done better is for the auctioneer to set expectations with the seller and make sure they realize all of the possibilities.

    • This is not about guarantees. It has to do with the Skinner person who built up my expectations through the roof. He should have just said nothing.

  4. I recently brought much of my step moms estate furniture to Skinners for appraisal and auction. I dealt with chris directly and found him to be very professional in our dealings. He educated me on the values and marketability of many of the items.
    overall I was very pleased with the auction results, garnering over high estimate on many of the 40+ items. Far better return than the antique dealers and consignment shops. An item is worth what someone is willing to pay at that point in time,Skinner does a great job in getting the word out, then its up to the buyers.Coleman, if you want to be disapointed try selling your house rite now.

    • I’ll say it once again: The Skinner guy who took my stuff in gushed about my items — he should have just remained silent. And Doug, as to the sale of my house, I have no idea what that has to do with anything,

  5. I suppose had your items brought higher than expected prices there would be less of a problem. The comment about selling your house now to experience real disappointment simply comments about the state of overall markets, antiques included. I am a small dealer with a stock of quality items worth far less today that when I purchased many of them. Like stocks, antique values go up, they go down. I have sold paintings at Skinners with mixed results. But as a dealer I will no longer pay their high, standard commission rates, just makes it impossible to ” come out “, particularly now that I know so many of their sellers get very favorable ” inside seller rates ” I am forced to go elsewhere.

  6. i have listened wih great interest to you and looked at all the comments from some of your disgruntled customers. i am english and i lived in the channel islands for over 30 yrs i used to go to auctions every day off work and i used to buy in items mostly antique crockery and boxes of what we called odds sorted them and sold them to antique shops i did very well out of it.but there are times when things dont go according to plan items do go up way beyond their true value they are pushed up by the ring i will talk about this another time.by for now billrob

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