There are multiple choices on passing along or selling your collection. Should you use an auction house or eBay? Donate to a museum? Sell directly to another collector? Sell to a trusted dealer? Or, the two worst case scenarios: You get a divorce and are forced by her attorney to quickly sell. Or, you die and your family sells everything at a garage sale! Think I'm kidding? Think again. I have witnessed all of the aforementioned.
In the past, I have seen multiple large collections go to auction or a forced sale and fail miserably. In all cases the realized prices for the collections were telling because they were so low. Why you ask? Here are several reasons:
- The most common reason for low realized prices is because the seller bought medical antiques in isolation, without unbiased expert advice, and paid way too much or bought misrepresented items.
- The buyer did not have particularly good taste or was a ‘gatherer’ rather than a true knowledgeable 'collector'. In this case, there is not much anyone can do to help.
- The buyer was an inexperienced student of the topic he collected and was taken advantage of by unscrupulous dealers or auction houses.
- The collection was poorly presented or inadequately described by an auction house or internet sale, resulting in low bids which were not allowed to be posted with reserves. There, I've said it. Not everyone is a 'knowledgeable' collector/seller and they generally fail terribly when it comes time to sell.