From the downhome collectible classics auctions to the upscale Sotheby's Auction House, the digital age has unleashed a ton of online auction platforms that give collectors access to all of the things that their hearts' desire. As long as you keep some simple rules in mind and know where to look for what you want, you can hunt for bargains at these online auction houses without having to waste your time or settle for something less than perfect.
The Best Auctions for Every Type of Collectible
In the post-pandemic world, the best way to find your collectibles is through online auction platforms. From the highly exclusive to the incredibly low-key, combined, these sites have just about any collectible that you might be interested in owning.
Collectible Classics is an auction website that's been in operation since 2003, and although the website certainly feels like a ghost of web 1.0, the inventory that they're selling is absolutely worth reconnecting with your early dial-up days on the internet. Generally, Collectible Classics focuses on selling predominately sports related items, from magazines to signed equipment, and so much more.
While their collectibles make them a big draw for people involved in the sports community, they're a bit more sparse than other online auction house and websites. They have fewer auctions throughout the year, but anyone can access the upcoming lots so that you have a good idea of what you're interested in bidding on. To bid, you need to register an online account and then get approved by the company; they only accept bids on items either through their online platform or on the telephone. Additionally, payment must be sent over within 14 days of the invoice being posted.
When it comes to returning items, if you're not satisfied, you must contact the company by phone and discuss the issue first as they guarantee their grading services on each item. However, if it's a non-autographed item, you have 21 days after the sale to return it.
Heritage Auctions is one of the stalwarts of the auction industry, having been started in the 1970s and steamrolling the business ever since. Unlike more luxury auction houses, Heritage Auctions sells massive amounts of inventory throughout the week, ranging in scope from sports memorabilia to rare comic books. If you're looking for more common collectibles, things that really connect to middle America and pop culture, such as personal signatures, then this auction house is the best place to go.
To bid, you can make a free account and bid live on their platform, Heritage Live, or on their website. Interestingly, they're also a go-to for people trying to sell their items as they've dealt with hundreds of thousands of clients since their start.
In the modern age, you don't have to attend auctions in-person to be able to find great items, and 1st Dibs is an e-commerce auction website focused on offering furniture, home goods, jewelery and more. According to their website, 1st Dibs have been capturing the "magic of the Paris flea market" since 2000. This brand statement perfectly encapsulates the type of antiques that they specialize in. In contrast to some auction websites, their items tend to cost between low to mid-priced amounts, typically anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
Interestingly, 1st Dibs isn't limited to offering only antiques or vintage items; rather, they sell all manner of collectibles. Since they're a purely e-commerce website, you can place bids on all of the items in their inventory from their platform after you create a free account. To purchase your items, you can pay using Paypal, a credit card, or wire transfer.
Yet, one of the best parts of 1st Dibs is its sleek, user-friendly design. They also have an app that you can bid through as well, which makes the shopping process even easier. Since they're updating their inventory every week, you can expect to see new and exciting items each time you stop by.
Rock Island Auction Company
If you're in the business of antique and collectible firearms, then Rock Island Auction Company is the auction house for you. Based in Illinois, this auction business sells both low-cost and high-cost historic firearms to all types of gun collectors on a monthly basis. When it comes to their auctions, they accept live bids, online bids, telephone bids, and sealed absentee bids. They also accept bids internationally, though you'll need to check with your local government about shipping the firearms to you. Additionally, you can sell your items directly to Rock Island or have them put your items to sale in their auction as well.
While firearms are a hot collectible, people who don't frequently collect them probably have no idea that there are strict rules about shipping them across state and country lines. In terms of the United States, antique firearms created before 1898 are outside of the purview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Unfortunately, that leaves a lot of collectible firearms that you have to pick up in person, so keep that in mind when purchasing from Rock Island.
Sotheby's Auction House
According to Sotheby's website, the auction house specializes in fine art and luxury items, and they've gained quite the reputation for their expensive sales. Based in New York City, the company has satellite offices in twelve cities around the world, and dozens of international representative locations. However, if you can't make it to one of their physical offices to attend an auction, they have a thriving online platform that allows you to bid on items in real-time.
Considering that Sotheby's prides itself on catering to wealthy clientele, not only are its products incredibly expensive, but its general operations are the best of the best. You can expect for your items to accurately match their listings and that their evaluations for estimated values are veritable. While not too many people get the opportunity to buy from Sotheby's, those that do can find an array of high-quality goods such as luxury brand jewelry, antique and vintage fine art, high-profile pop culture pieces, and so much more. In fact, some of the company's most expensive sales are:
- James Audubon's Birds of America- Sold for $8.8 million
- Harry Garner Reticulated Vase - Sold for $9 million
- Marie Antoinette's Pearl Pendant - Sold for $32 million
- Roy Lichtenstein's Sleeping Girl - Sold for $44 million
Live Auctioneers has been in the business of collectibles auction since the early millennium, partnering with eBay in 2002 in a momentous event for brick-and-mortar auction houses to give them the gateway for opening their sales to the digital world with eBay Live. They've continued to evolve as an auction website, facilitating sales from businesses around the globe and operating in over fifty countries. When it comes to collectibles, the company specializes in all manner of items, from expensive jewelry to common plush toys. If an auction house wants to sell it, chances are Live Auctioneers will try to facilitate it.
Unlike some auction platforms, Live Auctioneers operates in a more conventionally e-auction way; while keeping up with modern design, they've retained the early online auction style of eBay to make it easy for everyone to familiarize themselves with their platform. On top of their auction platform, they're also transparent with their past sales and give people access to their back catalog for research purposes, a feat that not many auction houses are willing to achieve.
When it comes to actually purchasing items, it's as easy as making a free account, requesting to register for an auction you're interested in (which is approved by the auction house that's listed the item or lot), and placing a bid. Since Live Auctioneers isn't selling the items themselves, but serving as the go-between between the client and the auction house, return policies differ from sale to sale, and you'll have to contact the seller for more information. Additionally, payment is made through the website using a credit card, and you'll be invoiced with the documentation after the purchase.
Online Auctions Help Every Collectible Find a Home
Long-gone are the days where people had to travel to bid on the items that they're most interested in collecting. Online auction websites and auction houses have created international multi-dimensional platforms that help buyers find the exact collectibles they're looking for in a fast and easy manner. No matter what your collector's poison is, there's an auction house that specializes in it just a fingertip away.