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Thread: auction houses

  1. #1

    auction houses

    I have notice over the past year or so that a greater number of reproductions are finding their way into the action houses and that many of these are being sold as real, or that the auction house as stated something like early 19th cen or middle of the 18th cen, yet the guide price is nearer the price of an original weapon. a few weeks back i was looking at the forthcoming auctions and one sword took my eye, but even in the very small picture it looked wrong, after looking around the net for less then 10 minutes i came across the very same sword without the ageing for 140 US dollars, the auction house guide price was between 4 to 6000 pounds, some mark up.I contacted the auction house and send a picture of the 140 dollar sword, as yet no reply. So who is at fault, the seller, or the auction house. how would a overseas buyer stand, after buying this sword at the guide price. Do you trust auction houses, whats your views. michael

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Kansas City Metro (USA)
    Auction houses simply sell someone else's stuff to another person and have little interest in what they are selling. They act as the middleman and frankly have little interest, or knowledge, of what they are selling. Most auctioneers will sell anything from antique swords to tea pots. Some will specialize in something like arms or collectables and profess to have some knowledge of what they are selling. Items at auctions are almost always legally sold "as is - where is" with no guarantees of any sort. It is always "buyers beware" when dealing with auction houses in reality.

    IMHO, potential buyers at auction should always do their homework first and know what they are buying. I also think that buyers should buy a lot of books berfore they buy their first, second, or third sword if they want to stay out of trouble. Relying upon someone else's judgement is always problematic because they do not have the same interest in the purchase that the purchaser does. Everyone has an opinion and free opinions are worth exactly what one pays for them.

    Of course, this is just my opinion.
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Michigan, USA
    George. When I go to our local auction house I take a crib with me listing how much each $100 bid will cost me. For an instance a $100 bid plus 20% hammer fee plus 6% State tax comes to $126 for each $100 I bid. It really does not become an issue until I bid $1000 on a sword and if I win it I owe $1260. Cuts sharply into the profit margin.
    "Ancora imparo - Michelangelo Buonarotti"

  4. #4
    I have never bought a sword in my life before I bought my first one ( original 1800s Chasseur cheval) all I did to prepare myself and develop my taste for the swords is I've looked at a lot of pictures of the swords online; real and reproductions. I spent sometime on the internet and read a little bit about the subject. By no means I am an expert or even someone who could be called knowledgeable about "cold weapons". However looking at a lot of detailed pics is all one needs to prepare themselves for the market. Considering horrible decline in today's manufacturing standards, modern fakes don't stand a chance to be mistaken for a real thing. Should one blame the seller, I think not.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Santa Barbara, CA
    It is astounding to me how some auction houses are given free license to knowingly perpetuate fraud and collectors/consumers subscribe to this ethical bankruptcy as an acceptable standard. I too have called auction houses on these fakes they present as authentic and, like Michael, have received similar - no response (until after the auction, if at all) or other contemptuous dismissal under the protection of their disclaimers. While virtually all auction houses purport to have “experts”, it is these “experts” that knowingly drift around the truth in vague ambiguities (….“it looks old”….”It has a nice mottled patina…”), while knowing the item is faked. There is a distinct conflict of interest. On one hand auction houses are the consultants/experts/appraisers/etc., to prospective consignors, on the other, they profess ignorance to the people who buy the items consigned from auction.

    Outside of an auction house, the difference between selling a gold bar that you think is real and one that you know is fake (but represent as real) is about twenty years in jail. Unscrupulous auction houses get to freely peddle these fakes without any accountability or consequence (and are even legally protected to do so); AND it would seem many people condone this behavior; even defend it.

    As long as the auction houses generate the perception of unaccountablility, they will never have to honestly disclose what they "know" about the items they sell. There is a "halo effect" created by auctions that give buyers a feeling that they can buy with a certain degree of confidence. This confidence is created by the fact that the auction house “experts” have somewhat vetted and valued items. Many auction houses exploit this halo effect to the detriment of the buyer and the entire collecting industry by willingly participating in the extension of the initial fraud.

    As you can probably tell, I have a strong opinion about this.
    Last edited by Simon R.; 04-11-2012 at 06:43 PM.

  6. #6
    Hi All,
    Went to an auction houseviewing to look at a flintlock pistol, recogonised it as modern reproduction that had been aged. To 100% confirm my ideentification there was no hole in the barell adjacent to the pan as this is how the reproduction is made to stop it being activated.
    I went on line and printed out pictures off a reproduction website of the same pistol for sale for around 200 dollars and brought to the auction (as I was interested in buying other items at the auction)
    Before the auction I showed the printout to the auction showroom guy who was the resident militaria expert, he took the printout and he said he would discuss with the auctioneer,
    Gun sold for 650 euro + 20% comission, I watched it all happen but did not see the buyer, I was going to say something to the buyer but I could not identify him. I should have shouted out something but I didn't.
    Still buy there as Ireland does not have many militaria auctions dealers but you would want to know your stuff.
    True story

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    L'abbaye de Theleme
    It seems fraud is everywhere at this height of the century. It has impregnated society from the top and it is seen by many as a new normal. I am even more concerned about history books than with artifacts, although this thread is indicative of the tendence. Not that it did not happen before, but not so blatantly and unashamedly. I think it will not be possible to solve that restricted to our little collection corner.
    Last edited by Javier Ramos; 04-13-2012 at 02:26 AM.


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