Auction brings together online, in-house bidders

Auction brings together online, in-house bidders

It was my first auction where you could bid online or in person. It was also the first time I had been to a Mike Peterson auction. He is from Watseka.

The Internet bidders outnumbered the in-house bidders by more than 2 to 1, but the successful bidders at this event were about even.

This was a well-advertised event at the Centennial Lodge just off of Windsor Road in Champaign. Most of the items were from the Larry Smoot estate and there was a 10 percent bidder's premium on all items and a higher cost if you bid online.

I am not a big fan of add-ons, and most of the auctions in this area do not add premiums. It is, however, going to be a common thing everywhere.

This event was advertised as antiques, collectibles and toys. Some of the antiques were high end, most of the toys were farm toys, and there were a lot of gasoline items that were not from the Smoot collection.

Probably the highlight of the event was the 6-foot cigar store Indian, which brought $1,600. The Jennings Indian Chief 5-cent slot machine brought $2,000. Its 10-cent cousin brought in only $750.

A 54-drawer post office box unit brought $350, and a big, red, cast-iron coffee mill almost got to $500. It sold for $475. A kid's John Deere wagon brought in $350.

If you are a collector of Jim Beam bottles, you should know that the 35 Beam Corvettes got an average price of $35.

A couple of antique publications have said that collecting money from online bidders has been a problem, mostly from those on the East Coast. In some cases, close to 20 percent has been uncollectible.

Peterson said his business has had some bidders who did not come through, but not nearly 20 percent. He did not consider it a big problem at this time.

Peterson is a very good auctioneer, a good voice that you could understand, and there's no confusion in the bidding process. He said his goal was to sell 100 items in an hour, and I think he kept his word.

All in all, it was a smooth operation. I did not bid on a thing but saw a lot of old friends and had a really good time. The online aspect of the auction did not interfere with the in-house bidders at all. You always knew what was going on.

Bob Swisher has been a collector since he was a child. Questions or comments can be sent to Swisher by writing to The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-677 or emailing

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