We save you money by executing
your bids on your behalf on the floor of the auction. To learn the
details of how this generates savings for you, please read on.
Note: Feel free to print this out. It is lengthy but you will
find a great deal of useful information about our services and
public auctions in general.
Q: Before I read on, what qualifies you to give advice about
A: We’ve been actively and directly involved in auctions for
decades. Jonathan has been THE auction agent for the Boston area
sales for almost 15 years and Andy earned his living in the trenches
as a professional philatelic auctioneer for four auction houses over
12 years. No other auction agent has this valuable personal
Q: Why should I pay you to bid for me when auctioneers
execute my bids for free?
A: First, you must understand that most auction firms either own or
have a significant financial interest in much of the material they
sell. There's no way to identify which lots are consigned, which are
owned and which are part of a consignment the auctioneer paid a cash
advance to get.
Second, auctioneers work on a
commission basis. This means that the more the lots realize, the
more commission they earn.
Third, due to the competitive
nature of the philatelic auction business, auctioneers must boast
about the prices they get for lots either in advertisements or in
proposals they make to prospective consignors. Only the very strong
can resist such temptation, especially when they see others doing
Common sense should tell you
that turning your maximum bids over to someone with such a
significant investment in the prices realized at the very least has
the potential of costing you more than if your bids were executed by
someone without this clear conflict of interest.
Q: But I'm protected by the Terms of
Sale that say "all bids
are reduced to one increment over the second highest bid." Are you
saying that's not true?
A: The terms of sale exist to protect the auctioneer, not the
bidder. Let’s just say that anybody can be an underbidder. Only the
auctioneer sees the bids and no one can examine the bids to verify a
Q: I talk to
auctioneers all the time and I trust them. Many of them help me with
my bidding. Am I being conned?
A: First, review your own
experiences when giving your bids to an auction house. What
percentage of lots do you buy at your full bid and how often are
your bids reduced by large amounts?
Second, we’re not talking about
your hobby, we’re talking about your money. If you are spending
hundreds or thousands of dollars a year, it is logical to protect
Yes, you can trust auctioneers.
Most bring fresh philatelic material to the market with accurate
descriptions and fair estimates. They want to see nice material
ending up with adoring and appreciative collectors (whom they hope
will consign to them at a future time). But at the end of the day,
they are agents for the owner and are obligated to get the best
possible prices. Their job is to bring together as many buyers as
they can attract to actively compete with each other for the
material in order to obtain the best prices for their consignors,
for which they earn more commission.
Often, auctioneers create a
self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, lets say that a wealthy but
novice client calls about a lot and the auctioneer says it is a
great lot and that he estimates the lot to realize $X. Then, after
hearing the sales pitch, the client bids a couple increments more
than the auctioneer suggests. Then, when the auction transpires, the
lot realizes $X + a couple increments more. The buyer is happy to
have it, unaware that he could have purchased the lot for less if he
had asked kept his interest in the lot from the auctioneer and had
asked an independent agent about its value, quality and realistic
Consider all the factors involved in operating an auction firm.
There is very high overhead – labor, rent, travel, printing,
postage, and advertising, plus the cost of your auction computer
program and internet presence. In some cases, firms have invested
money in the material either by purchasing outright or making
significant cash advances, often at 0% interest that they are
absorbing. In addition, in some cases, they have extended interest
free payment plans for buyers to allow them to bid more, requiring
them to pay their consignors before they have been paid and have to
absorb the carrying costs. Also, in other cases, in order to obtain
certain consignments, they had to reduce their seller's commissions.
On lots they own, reducing bids costs even more -- every $100.00
reduction costs $110.00-$115.00. Multiply that times hundreds or
thousands of lots per sale, then multiply that times 5-10 sales per
year. It adds up to real money.
Q: How do you save me money?
A: It is simple.
When working for you as your agent, our goal is not to maximize the
price of a lot, but to purchase the lot for you at the lowest
By keeping your
bids confidential and executing them on the auction floor, your
purchases will be at lower percentages of your maximum bids.
Q: Are there other ways you save
First, most bidders tend to get caught up in the excitement of an
auction and their emotions overpower their intellect. As a result,
they ignore their predetermined limit and end up overpaying. We use
unemotional logical discretion in executing your bids.
Second, auctioneers know if they try to “run” us (bid against us
when they have no legitimate bid for the sole purpose of raising the
price realized), we're more than prepared to deal with it. First, we
handle bids for numerous clients at the sale, and they need both our
successful bids and our underbids. If we sense this is happening,
then we will inform our clients and steer business away from them.
Some clients give us total discretion to cancel their bid and stop
bidding if we suspect we're being "run”.
Third, when we bid, only we know which client we're bidding for.
Others may think they know, but they can't be sure. Every bid could
be our last. We vary our bidding techniques. We don't play games
with our clients' money. Our decades of experience in auction rooms
are working for you from day one.
Q: What kind of savings can I
A: That's up to you. In most cases, the higher you bid, the more you
save. It also depends on what you bid on, as well as other factors
that we would be pleased to discuss on an individual basis.
Q: Do auctioneers use an agent?
A: Some auctioneers round out their sales by purchasing material in
other auctions. They buy large lots and collections in another
auction for the sole purpose of dividing them into smaller lots to
offer in their own sales. Occasionally they are buying for a client
with a specific want list. When they bid they use an agent. Since
1981, more of them have used Purser Associates than any other agent.
Who knows more about auctions and how they really operate than
auctioneers? It means a great deal to us that so many auctioneers
use us when they have important bids they need executed. Ask them
Q: OK, I see there are some advantages to using an agent,
but I'm concerned about one thing. I've been bidding with one
auctioneer for years. If I use you at his sales, he'll think I don't
A: Using us will show the auctioneer that you're a more
knowledgeable, sophisticated bidder. If you care more about what the
auctioneer "thinks" than about how your bids are handled or how much
things cost you, by all means don't use us.
Q: How can I be certain that I can
earn your trust by providing references you can check and offer the
following MONEY BACK GUARANTEE.
us handle all your bids for the next 90 days. If you are not
convinced our service is of value to you, we'll refund every penny
of the fees you've paid.
Q: Are you saying I should use you at every auction, even
those conducted by auctioneers I know and trust?
A: Yes. If you're only using us for some sales and not for others,
how can we dazzle you with great results? If you understand what we
are saying, then you should put it to a fair test where you have
literally nothing to lose.
Q: What happens if you get more than one bid on the same
A: It's simple. We do the same thing auction houses say they do. We
enter all bids in our bidbook. We bid on behalf of our highest
bidder, and buy the lot for the lowest possible price. This must be
one advance over our underbid. If bids are the same, we use any
'tie-breaker' authority given us by the bidders. If they are still
equal, it goes to the bidder who viewed the lot. If both (or
neither) viewed, the tie goes to the earliest bidder.
Q: I've seen you raising the price
of lots after the bidding has stopped and the lot's been hammered
down at a lower price. Why do you do that? It looks as though you're
running up the price to make more money. Doesn't it cost your buyer
A: When we have both the highest and the second highest bid for a
lot, we have to raise a price to clear that bid. Yes, it costs our
high bidder more than if the second highest bid didn't exist - but
it does. We cannot just cancel them. For example, one client bids
$500 on a lot and another client bids $1,000 on the same lot. If all
of the other bidding stopped at $300, we tell the auctioneer the
price has to be $525. (One advance over the second highest bid of
$500.) After the sale you get a report indicating the lot sold for
more than your bid.
If we just pretended the second highest bid did not exist, our other
client could get the lot for $300. After the sale, when the bidder
with the $500 bid learns it sold for only $300, but didn't get it,
he or she will be angry.
Q: Will you tell me if my bid is
your top bid on a lot?
A: Under no circumstances will we penalize the bidders who were kind
enough to get their bids to us early. In addition, we will not even
say whether or not we have bids on a lot. The other bids we have are
none of your business, and your bids are nobody else's! Anyone
who'll reveal information to you about other people's bids, will
reveal information about your bids to other people.
Q: OK, but you must make exceptions in special
circumstances. What if there's one lot that's really, really
important to me? If I want to make sure I get the lot, I must know
where I stand because if I need to, I'll raise my bid. Most auction
houses will tell me if my bid is high or not. Why won't you?
A: As we said earlier, when working for you as your agent, our goal
is not to maximize the price of a lot, but to purchase the lot for
you at the lowest possible price. Because we do not have the
investment in obtaining the highest possible price for a lot, we
play fair. Go back one question. Read the answer. We make no
exceptions. None. We can't. Our answer is, "Sorry, but we can't
reveal any information about our bids." Not everyone understands.
a lot is that important and you're understandably concerned about
the competition, we are pleased to discuss things that can be done
to maximize your chances of success. Topping our high bid will
guarantee nothing because there is no way to know what other bids
will be or where they will come from.
Imagine that you call after the sale and receive bad news -- the lot
sold for one or two advances over your bid. If your reaction is,
"Damn! If I'd known it was going to go that high, I'd have given you
more!" then you didn't give us your maximum bid. If, on the other
hand, you say, "Damn! I really wanted it, but not at that price. At
least I made the winner pay." then your bid was truly the highest
you were willing to go. You really need to consider this before the
sale. Once it's over it's too late to do anything about it.
Q: Under normal circumstances that process makes sense, but
I don't always have the time. Since you folks have such a good
reputation, I figured I'd just give you lot numbers and tell you to
buy them for me? Do you accept "BUY" bids?
A: No, we won't accept unlimited, unconditional "BUY" bids because
we will have a real conflict if we get two “BUY” bids on a lot. But,
we do accept what we call "Modified BUY" bids. A "Modified BUY" bid
must be in writing. In addition, we ask you to give us some idea of
what you think the lot should sell for. We then require you give us
a dollar amount to bid plus any discretion you authorize. (50%-100%-
500%, etc.) Finally we ask you to "rate" your desire to have the lot
on a scale of 1 to 5.
1 = You want it, but don't have to have it. (Stay within
2 = You have to have it. (Go for it, but don't go crazy.)
3 = You want it. You need it. If you could only buy
ONE lot this YEAR,
this is IT. (If I don't get it, the buyer will PAY!)
4 = This is the lot of the DECADE! (I won't die if I lose
the lot, but it will make me sick.)
5 = This is the lot of a LIFETIME! (Price is no object. I
will DIE if you don’t come home without it!)
Q: I usually call the auction to get opening bids before I
give them my bids. Should I still do that if I'm using you?
A: You may if you want to, but there are several reasons it's a bad
idea. First, it's lousy strategy to call the house and give a list
of the lots you're most interested in. Second, openings are of
little value except in two situations: 1) to eliminate lots that are
already higher than you're willing to pay, and 2) if the expected
cost of all of the lots you wish to purchase exceeds your budget.
Third, some auction firms give you phony numbers when you call
(remember, if there are no bids, the lot must start at some level
other than $1). Finally, unless you call immediately before the
sale, openings will change many times as bids come in, and many do
at the last moment.
Q: Will you examine lots for me?
A: Yes, usually we can look at lots for you. Viewing must be
specifically requested. But it's not always possible to view lots at
every sale. We'll look at the lots from a buyers' point of view and
if, in our opinion, an item is inaccurately described or simply
doesn't meet your standards, we'll cancel your bid.
Q: If you folks view lots for me I can save even more money
by not having to get lots expertized, right?
A: Wrong! While both of us serve as consultants to the expert
committees, our opinions are not substitutes for certificates, and
even if they were, our verbal opinions would be worthless to you
when you sell your material. If you are concerned about any item we
urge you to get it expertized; in fact, we will often recommend it
Q: I'm a specialist. How
can you help me?
A: Not only are we specialists in
our own areas of interest and professional experience, we are also
specialists in buying and selling at public auction. If you work
with us as our other clients do, we'll use our auction expertise to
help you build your collection. We have been involved in well over
$100,000,000 of auction sales as an auctioneer and agent. We have
broad, general philatelic knowledge and know condition standards
very well. We may find material in sales you might otherwise miss.
You may count on us to handle your bids reliably and professionally,
and with an unprecedented money back guarantee. So, why not give us