More Details in Auction Catalogs

The Antiques Trade Gazette has an interesting post on increasing the level of detail in auction catalogs, specifically condition reports.  This would of course assist collectors and buyers, but it would also be a big plus for the appraisal profession.  In valuing items in today's market, condition is one of the main considerations.  Knowing the condition, and then being able to make informed decisions on value adjustments would certainly assist both appraisers and the users of appraisals.

The following post is based upon postings by collectors on the ATG website requesting more content and condition information.  Of course ATG is a UK publication, but perhaps expanding detail in auction catalogs will catch on.  It has been my experience of seeing less content offered rather than more, and that would be nice to change, especially on high dollar property.

The Antiques Trade Gazette reports
Auction houses everywhere need to change the way they prepare for sales in order to meet increasing demands for detailed condition reports, say Australian auctioneers Mossgreen.

Mossgreen managing director Paul Sumner, who has also run both Sotheby's Australia and Sotheby's Olympia in the past, believes his company has come up with a solution that answers criticism levelled at auctioneers via ATG's letters pages in recent weeks concerning pre-sales service.

Writing on this week's Letters page in ATG's printed newspaper, he explains that he and his specialists now devote more time to catalogue preparation, increasing the level of detail on condition in catalogue descriptions significantly.

"By taking multiple photos and doing condition reports as part of the initial cataloguing process, we are changing the back end functionality of our business," he writes. "While it takes twice as long to catalogue up front, the amount of work required at peak activity times around auctions is vastly reduced.

"Specialists need to be trained in digital photography also. But by having this all available on the website where access to reports and multiple images is actioned by the buyers and without the need for our staff to email clients images and condition reports in every individual case, efficiency levels of our business are greatly increased.

"This requires a software operating system that is compatible to this functionality and a website that also makes these services clear to the buyers. It also requires the auctioneer to look differently at the way their specialists catalogue items."

The benefit of this is the reduction in pressure around sale times, he says, when resources are stretched to capacity and often the lots being enquired about are mid to low-value.
Source: Antiques Trade Gazette

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