Fellow Collectors Taking Advantage Of Deceased Members Families

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Phonofreak
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Fellow Collectors Taking Advantage Of Deceased Members Families

Post by Phonofreak »

I have been a long time collector for over 30 years. I haven't been on the forum that much as I used to. One thing that burns my toast is when a collector passes away, other collectors(vultures) go to the family to "help" them. These collectors take advantage of the grief and sorrow of the family members. They offer pennies on the dollar and later on, make a substantial profit on their ill gotten gains. This devious practice has been going on for a very long time. It this has been worse during the past several years. When senior collectors take advantage of newer collectors or families, like this, I can see why the hobby is dwindling. When I first started collecting, more experienced members help the newer ones. They didn't take advantage of the newer collectors and others. Everyone helped one another. I hope the hobby goes back to what it used to be. The ones who take advantage of others should look in the mirror and take stock of them selves.
Sorry for the rant,
Harvey Kravitz

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Re: Fellow Collectors Taking Advantage Of Deceased Members Families

Post by JerryVan »

When I was a young collector, maybe 30 years ago, I picked up a very nice Columbia BI. It turned out that I then had 2 of them. Wanting something different, I put the new BI up for sale. A well known collector at the time, offered for trade a tired Standard Model A disc machine. He talked it up big time and stipulated that I'd have to throw in an extra $150 to make the trade even. A couple months later, he had the BI for sale at Union for a huge price. I had been had... :x He has since passed on to reap the rewards of his earthly existance.

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Re: Fellow Collectors Taking Advantage Of Deceased Members Families

Post by Raphael »

There are many points of view on this topic. Harvey rightly states that it is unscrupulous to take advantage of grieving heirs. However, it is by no means confined to the phonograph field. But there are also sellers of an estate collection that are just as unscrupulous, playing one buyer against another. I’ve been involved in a fair share of these episodes and can fill a book with stories about them.

I always wait until approached by the heirs. Some expect full retail, or something to the effect that “father said it was worth $xxx”. Which potentially could be double or triple what I could pay. Some years ago, I was asked to buy a well-known restorer’s fabulous estate collection of phonographs and music boxes, worth over $1m. The widow wanted it removed immediately, and payment in cash. When I started to value each item, she argued with every (generous) price I was writing down on my notepad. So, I just stopped, and said, sorry, your husband was a good friend and I will give you an appraised retail value of each item and you can use it as a reference for any other potential offers you may get, and I recused myself from the buying end of things. Several years later, I found most of the stuff in another dealer’s storage in Florida, still unsold, and bought it all from the dealer for 50% of what I would have previously paid. Such are the vagaries of buying and selling.

Many here will remember that I acquired the vast (over 600 items) Dr. Z collection about seven years ago. That was a blend of outright purchases and consignment, and I did very well with all of it……except for one great piece that was held back. His son called me a few months ago and said he now wanted to sell the item, and I bought it at about 70% of my previous offer. Times change, and so do markets. And it turned out I had to spend several thousand dollars getting the mechanism restored. So, in the end, we both did OK, but not without a lot of work on my part.

I often recommend to sellers that they send the stuff to Stanton’s auction. They can get rid of everything in one fell swoop, no hassles, and the market will determine value. Yes, there are fees involved, but no business can operate successfully as a charity.

Raphael

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Granby
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Re: Fellow Collectors Taking Advantage Of Deceased Members Families

Post by Granby »

This is a very interesting topic. Unfortunately, I see situations like these in many areas of "antiques" collecting. In my area, I see it quite often with "estate sales." Often, it is just a matter of who can get to the "seller" first and make a good impression. I really wish that sellers would take a deep breath and assess the situation before taking the first offer of "help" or get won over by a nice "offer" before weighing out all their options.

As a collector, there have been a few occasions when I have been lucky enough to be the first to walk through many homes and politely show my interest and inquire about an antique phonograph, bedroom suite, washstand, or set of glassware.... only to find out that the item was sent out a month later to an auction house or sold to a fellow dealer for pennies on the dollar. Actually, this happened again just a month or so ago... :?

However, there are two sides to every story.... and many times a bulk purchase of a "lot of antique phonographs" would obviously not be a "retail" offer. But, I do hate to see someone get taken advantage of. On a slightly lighter note, if something happens to me, I have instructed my wife to not let a dealer come in and "cherry pick" the collection. That plain ole' Columbia Grafonola E-2 and Victrola XI comes with the package.... ;)

Take it or leave it..... :lol:

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Re: Fellow Collectors Taking Advantage Of Deceased Members Families

Post by epigramophone »

From 2017 to 2023 I was Chairman of the CLPGS West of England Group, and therefore the first point of contact when anyone needed help. Ours is an elderly membership, and it was sometimes my sad task to help the families of deceased members to dispose of their collections.

When approached, my first act was always to ask them whether there were any items which they wished to keep within the family. Once that had been decided, I would make an inventory of the machines, accessories etc, and recommend a reputable auction firm, or indeed the CLPGS, to sell them. After that, I would leave it to the family to deal with the sale. Only once did I buy a machine direct from a family, and I paid my best estimate of it's full market value.

Most auctioneers would accept cylinders, but not 78's unless they were of exceptional rarity or interest. Subject to the family retaining any favourites, I recommended donating the 78's to charity shops. In my own time and at my own expense I must have moved many thousands of records in this way. I never accepted offers of payment from the families I helped, but they were happy for me to keep any records I wanted for my own collection.

Several families and several charities have benefitted from my help and advice, frequently sought and freely given.

Roger.

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Steve
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Re: Fellow Collectors Taking Advantage Of Deceased Members Families

Post by Steve »

There is nothing new here. This has been going on since long before any of us were even born. It's plain and simple, human nature, unfortunately. The antiques trade in general isn't exactly known for being a place where everybody is fair or looks out for the novices. It's dog eat dog. As for "reputable auctions", I'd never recommend to anyone that they use any auction organisation as invariably the vendor gets a raw deal most of the time. It would appear at least in the UK that most auction companies have a half-soaked approach to selling anyway and rarely make any attempt to properly show or describe an item for sale. This is why prices achieved are often very low; internet buyers don't have the confidence to pay top price for a lot of items. Whilst this isn't meant as a dig at CLPGS either, I wouldn't suggest letting a private organisation or society sell on your behalf either as the sale will not be as accessible to the general public at large, if at all. It probably won't have the mainstream social media marketing either.

At least with Ebay, the vendors cut out the middle man and sell directly to buyers. It might be a faff for vendors with items they know little about but Google is your friend!

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Re: Fellow Collectors Taking Advantage Of Deceased Members Families

Post by JerryVan »

Steve wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 10:20 am At least with Ebay, the vendors cut out the middle man ...
Not really. eBay is the middle man, taking their cut. I don't begrudge that. They provide a service for which they deserve a fee. Just like a live auctioneer. As to auctioneers, I'll second Raphael's praise of Stantons. I sold a bunch of stuff through them a little while back. For me, they did a fine job and Steve was a pleasure to deal with. Were prices on the low side? Yes, but not any lower than expected these days.

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Re: Fellow Collectors Taking Advantage Of Deceased Members Families

Post by Steve »

JerryVan wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 10:35 am
Steve wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 10:20 am At least with Ebay, the vendors cut out the middle man ...
Not really. eBay is the middle man, taking their cut. I don't begrudge that. They provide a service for which they deserve a fee. Just like a live auctioneer. As to auctioneers, I'll second Raphael's praise of Stantons. I sold a bunch of stuff through them a little while back. For me, they did a fine job and Steve was a pleasure to deal with. Were prices on the low side? Yes, but not any lower than expected these days.
You know what I meant! :D Yes, Ebay takes a percentage for hosting the vendor's auction but the seller is selling directly to the buyer and the Ebay fee is typically less than a third of an auction house.

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Re: Fellow Collectors Taking Advantage Of Deceased Members Families

Post by JerryVan »

Steve wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 10:45 am
JerryVan wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 10:35 am
Steve wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 10:20 am At least with Ebay, the vendors cut out the middle man ...
Not really. eBay is the middle man, taking their cut. I don't begrudge that. They provide a service for which they deserve a fee. Just like a live auctioneer. As to auctioneers, I'll second Raphael's praise of Stantons. I sold a bunch of stuff through them a little while back. For me, they did a fine job and Steve was a pleasure to deal with. Were prices on the low side? Yes, but not any lower than expected these days.
You know what I meant! :D Yes, Ebay takes a percentage for hosting the vendor's auction but the seller is selling directly to the buyer and the Ebay fee is typically less than a third of an auction house.
Yes, I know what you meant. ;)

In my case, the volume of goods being sold made eBay very impractical. Also, the percentage taken by Stanton was not all that much more than eBay, considering that they picked up (twice), hauled, and stored my stuff prior to the auction. Honestly, I'm not trying to make this a Stantons commercial nor drift this too far off topic :oops:

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Re: Fellow Collectors Taking Advantage Of Deceased Members Families

Post by Steve »

JerryVan wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 11:11 am
Steve wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 10:45 am
JerryVan wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 10:35 am

Not really. eBay is the middle man, taking their cut. I don't begrudge that. They provide a service for which they deserve a fee. Just like a live auctioneer. As to auctioneers, I'll second Raphael's praise of Stantons. I sold a bunch of stuff through them a little while back. For me, they did a fine job and Steve was a pleasure to deal with. Were prices on the low side? Yes, but not any lower than expected these days.
You know what I meant! :D Yes, Ebay takes a percentage for hosting the vendor's auction but the seller is selling directly to the buyer and the Ebay fee is typically less than a third of an auction house.
Yes, I know what you meant. ;)

In my case, the volume of goods being sold made eBay very impractical. Also, the percentage taken by Stanton was not all that much more than eBay, considering that they picked up (twice), hauled, and stored my stuff prior to the auction. Honestly, I'm not trying to make this a Stantons commercial nor drift this too far off topic :oops:
Clearly, the UK needs a Stantons....or an Auction-Team Breker. Up to 20 years ago we used to have specialist Mechanical Music sales three times a year from three of the biggest auction companies. That was then; the reality is very different today.

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