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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Auctioneers equally admire

“It is only an auctioneer who can equally and impartially admire all schools of art.”

So said the famous Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde.

What did Mr. Wilde mean by this? I suspect he meant that auctioneers, by virtue of their occupation, seem to appreciate all kinds of property — primarily because they find themselves selling it.

And, if one is selling something, it helps to portray to the potential buyers that one likes what he (or she) is selling.

However, is this admiration factual? It would be hard to believe that any auctioneer truly adored all types of property — personally. On the contrary, auctioneers no doubt sometimes find themselves genuinely disliking property they are selling, but rarely (if ever) disclose that dislike to their audiences.

“What a wonderful lamp we have here …” declares the auctioneer, thus suggesting this would be a prudent purchase.

Some researchers denote this type of suggestive selling as the “Law of social proof.” Buyers will tend to like something if others like it too. Along the lines of, “Everyone’s doing it … so it must be okay.”

The McDonald’s hamburger chain had for years on their signs, “Over 99 Billion Served.” Why would that tend to sell more burgers? Because if everyone else is eating them, they must be good, I suspect.

A few in the literary circles attribute a second line to Wilde’s famous quote, noting that … “On the other hand, he may sell a painting he doesn’t like, to another man who doesn’t want it, for twice its value.”

Maybe what’s important here is Wilde said, “can equally …” and not “must equally …” Nevertheless, Wilde seems to be implying that auctioneers have a strong power of suggestion, which most all auctioneers would hardly deny.

And, this power of suggestion and equal admiration is probably just as important for auctioneers when working with sellers as buyers. Imagine if a seller heard, “Well, that’s a pretty ugly set of china, and that antique furniture is hard to look at.” Would that seller be likely to hire that auctioneer?

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: He is adjunct faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.

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