9th April 2012
Unsold but not unloved.
It was a rare treat recently to discover on David Druett's highly recommended website, www.pennymead.com, a philatelic epic that has long eluded me, The Stamp Fiend's Raid by W.E. Imeson. Published in 1903 this rare book offers a total of nearly 300 pages of philatelic verse that I can assure you, in the safe assurance that W.E. must surely have passed on now, is truly awful.
It recounts the adventures of one Private Paul Jones who, for reasons that are inadequately justified, returns secretly to London from South Africa in pursuit of a stamp 'mystery'. To be fair, like the curate's egg, the tale is good in parts and does not lack charm, providing an intriguing view of the stamp world of the time. At one point whilst riding in a hansom cab Paul confides to his companion that the cabby is none other than Percy Pennyweight, a failed stamp auctioneer . . .
A smart stamp auctioneer was he,
Who into trouble got
For putting up a seventh time
A six-time bought-in lot
"The Baron" is his nickname –
(You may have heard the tale) –
Because he sailed too near the wind
And had a barren sale.
It drove his clients nearly wild
And that nigh drove him mad,
It drove him from the rostrum,
And to drink it drove him – bad;
Drink drove him soon from bad to worse,
Who once was quite a dab
At driving bidders hard to bid,
And now – he drives a cab
So the warning is clear, reoffering unsold lots too many times is a very bad thing and may lead to auctioneer alcoholism.
Unsold lots do of course happen, even in the best run auction house. At Grosvenor we hold the book 'open' for a very short period after the sale for those who may have missed their bid, during which time lots remain available at the reserve price agreed with the vendor prior to sale. Interested parties must contact us, however, as soon as possible after the 'close of play' should they wish to pursue an interest.
After the auctioneer's book is 'closed' any unsold lots may either be returned to their owner at his/her request or placed aside for reoffering at a later date. As consignment auctioneers we may recommend, but we will be unable to guarantee, that an unsold lot will reappear. Whenever possible the subsequent reoffering will be delayed until after the following auction in order that the lot might re-emerge freshly onto the market. Sometimes the description may be subtly altered to clarify or redirect its appeal.
It is not uncommon for that same lot, previously unloved and unsold, to find a new home when resurrected for a second offering at a price higher than its former reserve. The market is constantly changing and the 'audience' is different for each auction.
For obvious reasons we are not in favour of lots being reoffered too many times. Seven would indeed be a dangerously excessive number . . .