How do you sell a rare or unusual item for its true market value if you don't know what it's worth? You could ask a collector or dealer, but chances are they'd like to buy it, and may be inclined to price it accordingly. Furthermore, the dealer must buy it for less than market value in order to make a living. This is why an auction has much to commend it. You don't need expert knowledge or to be on the collector grapevine. Provided you choose the right auction you are more or less guaranteed a fair price (often more) because to win your lot the buyer has to pay more than anyone else is prepared to.
Not only are auctions an efficient way to sell things, they can be exciting and fun for both buyers and sellers. The element of uncertainty makes it a bit of a gamble. Like gambling it can be addictive, but need not be as risky if you have the right attitude, and do your homework.
The minimum reserve is the seller's way of hedging the bet. The only risk here, is the disappointment of not selling, to be weighed against the possible joy of "winning the jackpot" when an item fetches twice what it was thought it to be worth. The buyer faces the greater risk, which is best countered by studying the form (learn about the subject, talk to other collectors, get an idea about relative values and previous sale results) and by trying to walk the narrow path between enthusiasm and caution.
Also like the casino, the folk who get rich are the ones who own the establishment. At least that has been the case until now. The growth of the internet as a trading platform is beginning to shake-up those greedy, complacent, auction house monopolies.
Why would you want to sell your vintage slot machine at this niche site, when you could reach a much larger potential customer base by listing it with the leading online auction at eBay? Here are eight good reasons:
eBay.co.uk's policy on slot machines expressly forbids their sale. If an eBay user notifies them of such a listing, they will remove the item immediately and issue a threat to suspend the seller's account if it happens again. See British Law and Vintage Coin-Operated Machines for a full discussion of how it effects us.
The collectors are here. This is the site that all vintage British slot machine enthusiasts are watching. As the only site of its kind, it is also attracting many new collectors from far and wide. You can be assured therefore that if you sell vintage slot machines and related items here, they will be seen by the people who are interested in buying them. The rare or especially desirable machine will be bought almost invariably by a member of the relatively small group of serious collectors. These incorrigibles would find what they seek if it turned up on the moon and will outbid any "normal" person in order to acquire it.
Be seen! Because our auction is small and specialized your item won't get buried away in a subcategory. At any one time there are more than 10 million items for sale on eBay and more than 1 million new items added every day, ranging from stuffed Aardvarks to hardly used Zimmer frames. Searching requires patience and diligence. For this reason many items find the best bargain hunters rather than the keenest buyers. Even golden needles get lost in haystacks. Every item in the PennyMachine Auction and Market can be reviewed by visitors in a few moments. Place something here and it will not be overlooked. In fact an image of it is automatically posted in the rotating gallery on the auction home page.
Bigger better pictures! Dingy little images are not fair on buyers or sellers. These treasures deserve to be seen, so we offer four large images up to 600 pixels wide as standard.
It needn't cost a penny! Your first sales can be absolutely free because when you sign up with the PennyMachines Auction and Market we automatically credit your account with £10. Thereafter, you'll find our selling fees are lower than eBay's fees. What's more, we charge no reserve price commission for items with a reserve of £50 or less and no closing commission if your item doesn't sell.
No bent pennies! Unlike the major online auctions, our auction is strictly policed. We are small enough to to do this. Activity in the PennyMachines Auction is closely and actively monitored. Fraudulent or dishonest trading and certain sharp practices that are increasingly undermining the credibility of online auctions will not be tolerated. See Practices we don't tolerate.
Bidfind listed. All items placed in the PennyMachines Auction and Market are automatically listed at Bidfind, the internet's largest aggregator of dynamic pricing data which receives hundreds of thousands of visitors a month.
Maximum security. We do not ask for your credit card or banking details. We offer you the option of paying auction fees by cheque, postal or money order or online via the secure PayPal payment service.
Online auctions have many advantages over old-style real auctions, but we can't pretend they don't also have some drawbacks. Brekker.com auctioneers of technical antiques discovered some of these when they tried to marry their regular offline sales to eBay's online auction system. Their press release is quite illuminating on the subject.
Auctions are sometimes used to "offload junk" that would be hard to sell privately. Fair enough - provided it's denoted "poor condition", "for spares", "major restoration project" etc. Although bricks and mortar auction houses lack expertise in valuing and assessing vintage amusement machines, they do provide an opportunity for the would-be buyer to physically examine the lots, ideally a day or so before the sale. A reputable auction house may compensate or refund in the event of serious undisclosed defects. A photograph may be worth a thousand words, but it can also hide a multitude of sins. We provide ample space for vendors to illustrate their lots thoroughly, but do remember to ask questions if in doubt about anything. If they are not answered satisfactorily, assume the worst and don't bid.
Above all, an online auction demands a higher level of trust because the final transaction takes place between the buyer and seller, with the website merely acting as facilitator. The feedback scheme, whereby users can review each other's trading reputations, and vigilance on the part of the auction administrators in enforcing the User Agreement can go a long way to supporting this trust.
Having said all this, most peoples' experiences of online auctions have been positive most of the time. That's why it has proved such a successful format.
A good auction requires fair trading from the vendor, bidder and auctioneer. We are alert to and shall endeavour to keep the PennyMachines Auction free of dishonest, deceptive and questionable activity. We actively monitor our members' records, bidding, buying and selling behaviour. Because this auction and the slot machine collector community remains small scale, unscrupulous behaviour is unlikely to go unnoticed and unchallenged. Reports of such activity will be investigated and membership will be promptly cancelled at our discretion. Disreputable traders will be permanently banned and legal proceedings will be taken where necessary. Forbidden practices, against which we have taken special preventative measures, include shilling, shielding, siphoning, ringing, sniping and unwarranted bid or sale retraction.
It's much easier than it looks. We have taken pains to make it as simple as possible. Firstly, if you wish to bid or sell, you must Register yourself as a member of the PennyMachines Auction and Market. This is free and creates your account which will be credited automatically with £10 towards any Auction or Market fees. We require your full name, home address, telephone number and email address. See Help if you want more detailed instructions.
A word of advice about timing: It is a good idea in any online auction to arrange for your sale to end at an off-peak internet time - in other words, when there is less internet traffic slowing down the network and making it harder for people to access the bidding pages. Avoid ending between 6.00 - 7.00 PM GMT. It's also advisable to choose a time when your potential customers are likely to have access to a computer.
If you want the Buy It Now option to remain active after bids are placed, you must set a reserve price. If you set your Reserve Price and Buy It Now Price to the same value, it will remain an option until the amount has been met or exceeded by bids.
Discuss slot machine auctions at the Auction Forum