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Benefits remain strong in live auctions

Media release – January 13, 2005

Benefits remain strong in traditional live auctions

Traditional live auctions will strengthen this year following some general concerns with online auctions, New Zealand’s leading stamp auctioneer Mowbray Collectables said today.

Unlike auction houses, online bidding prevents a buyer from examining the goods before they bid for them and bidders are never present at a live auction along with other bidders.

Mowbrays, the publicly listed stamp dealer, said traditional auction houses stand by what they sell following years of service, integrity and credibility.

The growth and loyalty of Mowbrays domestic and international client base is testimony to the live auction system.
“The preparation and presentation of the ‘live auction’ and the auction catalogue has meant our clients obviously prefer this style of auction ‘market place’,’’ Mowbrays’ spokesman John Mowbray said today.

In fact major auction houses attract significant absentee bidding by phone, mail or internet from those unable to attend the auction but wishing to take part in the live auction system conducted by professional licensed auctioneers.

The synergies and client interaction that our staff add to the live auction cannot really be replicated in an online auction medium.

``Some general auction houses have struggled with the arrival of online auctions. But we have never faltered with the arrival of any competition,’’ spokesman John Mowbray said today.

``We have been staging live auctions for 30 years and we are stronger than ever. We offer advice and guarantees to buyers to take out the caveat emptor factor, which can be an issue in online auctions.

``Live auctions have an advantage of buyers being able to inspect lots closely before bidding and all bidders can take advantage of the security, reputation, knowledge and advice available from established auction houses.’’

John Mowbray said some people were paying inflated prices for items sold by online auction.

``Many people incorrectly assume auction prices are better than any other prices which can drive bids upwards. And often the quality of items, presented to bidders in small image format is routinely exaggerated.

``In the US, the National Consumer League says 41percent of people who participated in online auctions have had problems related to those online auctions.

``A major NZ online auction house now refuses bids from overseas when up to 60 percent of such purchases failed to complete. However Mowbrays sell up to 70 percent to overseas clients known to them with no such problems.’’

Auctions are one of the oldest trading methods. They have been widely used for price setting on many items, such as agricultural commodities, financial instruments, and unique collectable items.

John Mowbray International, the largest stamp and coin auction house in New Zealand, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mowbray Collectables, Australasia’s largest stamp dealers.

Mowbrays own 49 percent of Webbs, NZ’s largest art auctioneers, also 100 percent of Stanley Gibbons Australia with auction rooms in Sydney and Melbourne.

Mowbrays last year bought the $1 million stamp stock of Stirling & Co in Christchurch. The collection was believed to be among the biggest stamp stocks in Australia and New Zealand.

In 2004 they bought a 20 per cent stake in Bonhams & Goodman, Australia's fourth biggest auction house. It runs under licence from Bonhams in London.

Mowbrays will hold their major annual international coin auction on October 6 and their international stamp auction on October 7 this year.

Two months ago, Mowbrays reported a half yearly $261,500 profit from operations.


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