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  #1  
Old 11-27-2006, 04:15 PM
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Default Clean Sweep's Stance on Larger Hobby Issues

Posted By: Steve

Hi All,

Not sure if this is the right thing to do as my company has not been mentioned, but these are issues of considerable importance to Clean Sweep and wanted the members of this board what we think. I also think that this has been a tremendously informative thread with lively and intelligent arguments on all sides.

In response to the main questions:

1)Rob Lifson recently described the altering of cards as an "epidemic". Do you agree with this and if so what are you doing to combat it?

I could not agree more and have been stating this more than anyone in the hobby for years. We will call a spade a spade more than other auction houses and do not accept consignments that have been altered, even when they are in holders. We screen our inventory more carefully than anyone for fresh, unaltered material as we have always done.

2)Rob also said that some of the most sophisticated work on cards has been executed by employees of auction houses that also deal in cards. What is your reaction to this?

This does not surprise me but I cannot comment on another auction house unless I have seen something first hand.

3)What will and its employees do (if anything) to improve the condition of cards that are consigned to it? Please adress the following

--cleaning card--such as taking glue off

Have never done this.

--taking out creases

Do not do this.

--erasing pencil marks.

Rarely do but do not have a problem either way.

--pressing cards

Have never done this.

--trimming

Have never done this.

--bleachoing/recoloring

Have never done this.

4)Do you use restoration services on cards such as Paul Messier or Graphic Restoration and what exactly will they do for you?

We have never restored a card or used these services or any other.

OTHER ISSUES IN THREAD

(1) Auction Ownership

Some feel that there is a potential conflict of interest when an auctioneer is auctioning something that he or she owns. Our policy is as follows: we do own many items that we sell in any auction and have and will answer any ownership requests when asked. We feel that with over 1,000 lots in many of our auctions this would be a very laborious process that has never been requested. The larger issue is simply one of trust. If you feel that an auction house would run up its own lots but not a consignor's, it is simply illogical and does not make sense. As one poster brilliantly mentioned, people that are unethical in one area will be in another. In other words, a corrupt company that runs up its own stuff will likely not hesitate to do the same with consignors' material; once a crook, always a crook.

Further, in our case, we need to sell the items for our cash flow. If anything, and this we can state from experience, the consignor lots are most likely to be run up by the consignors themselves or a freind. A consignor can then take the item after it does or does not sell and put it in another auction; we do not have that luxury and of course, it would look ridiculous. People have mentioned that there is nothing one can do about this but I do not agree as twice in the last four years, consignors had a "freind" bid on their items in our auction, we caught it and removed all of these shill bids in both cases. If any auction house is serious about stopping this practice, they can eliminate 95%+ of the problem. Further, several auction companies will have minimum bids that are 10% of the final value. In other words, they will start a $30,000 card collection at $3,000. This almost forces the consignors to manipulate bidding and we feel is simply an inherently problematic way of doing business that is at a minimum deceptive to both the bidders and consignors.

(2) Grading Companies

We will not get into endorsing one company over another. We use PSA for most of our cards as they do bring the highest prices and nothing seems to indicate that this will change in the near future. I could not agree more with Barry Sloate's consistent and excellent idea of a $100 grading fee. I have had conversations personally with Joe Orlando where I told him that they charge far TOO LITTLE on key cards and should charge much more and spend all necessary time. Maybe it would even be nice to have a one-page report as to the card. Joe assured me, BTW, that they do take all time for authenticity and are researching this issue. We all know the grading services are not perfect and it is up to the collectors and dealers bidding on items to set the values for these grades. In other words, if people consistent pay 3-5x the price for an 8 as opposed to a 7, the restorers have such a huge incentive that these practices will go on. If the market had much smaller premiums, I am personally convinced that these practices would diminish.

(3) The Honus Wagner T206

I certainly have felt that this card has been trimmed since first seeing it in 1991 at the Copeland Auction, long before there was a PSA. I have also heard countless times that this was an oversized card that was then trimmed down to size. I heard Copeland bought this in 1987 as a show, does any one know the dealer that originally sold it to him?

Hope this is a clear statement of our company's positions on these vital issues

Steve Verkman
President
Clean Sweep Auctions
www.csauctions.com

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  #2  
Old 11-27-2006, 04:36 PM
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Default Clean Sweep's Stance on Larger Hobby Issues

Posted By: barrysloate

Steve- you make excellent points and you agree with me that the very reasonable grading fees may force the graders to work too quickly; thus, they are more prone to error. And while your company is significantly larger than mine, we are both in the same predicament that we purchase inventory and need an outlet to sell it. I know many people do not like this practice and I understand it, but having your own material in your auction does not automatically mean unethical shilling is going on. If a bidder trusts the auction house, then this shouldn't be an issue. If he doesn't trust the auction house, then he shouldn't bid, period. Thanks for coming on and participating in this discussion. I know I will get lambasted for my statement about owning lots but maybe the only right thing to do is list those lots in the catalog so that bidders can decide on their own whether or not they have a problem.

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  #3  
Old 11-27-2006, 04:44 PM
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Default Clean Sweep's Stance on Larger Hobby Issues

Posted By: JimCrandell

Steve,

What a positive thing to do to get on the boards and explain Clean Sweep's position on these critical hobby issues. I am of course pleased that our positions on these key issues coincide and I look forward to doing business in the future.

Jim

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  #4  
Old 11-27-2006, 04:50 PM
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Default Clean Sweep's Stance on Larger Hobby Issues

Posted By: Joe D.

I could definitely see the potential conflicts of interest if the auction house owns an item in the auction.

The conflict is similar to, say if the grading companies started owning/selling cards (wow that could be bad).

Anyway - with regard to Sloate Auction - the potential conflicts I see are completely erased by my knowledge of - and my belief in your integrity.... but someone who does not know that you are one of the good guys might shy away from an auctioneer-owned item or worse, possibly shy away from the auction itself. Then again - if the item is cool and the price is right, I guess bidders will always show up!

Its a more complex issue than would appear on the surface. We need ethics prof (Barry A) to help us on these threads

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  #5  
Old 11-27-2006, 04:55 PM
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Default Clean Sweep's Stance on Larger Hobby Issues

Posted By: Peter_Spaeth

There is only a conflict of interest if one assumes the dealer in question is unethical. And an unethical dealer has incentive to let bad things happen to consigned lots too. Other conflicts of interest are more inherent, such as an authenticator selling his own items without disclosing his ownership. To me this is really a non issue. If you don't trust the auctioneer, you shouldn't be bidding period.

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  #6  
Old 11-27-2006, 05:03 PM
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Default Clean Sweep's Stance on Larger Hobby Issues

Posted By: Larry

Steve-

We all know you and Barry are an ethical and reliable dealer/auction houses. My question pertaining to what you and Barry have discussed is why not take the lots you own and the lots that are consigned and keep them sectioned or noted by an asterisk for those bidders that are concerned.(House Lots/Consigned Lots) This would be a substantial improvement to the current auction system since you would have your lots immediately known and that would only help emphasize your honest approach.

If you are concerned with the idea that people are shilling, and you want to stand ahead of the others, it is a great step to alleviate that. It really does not matter to myself, and I agree with Mr. Lifson in that the card presentation itself is far more important than what any grading service technically grades it.

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  #7  
Old 11-27-2006, 05:04 PM
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Default Clean Sweep's Stance on Larger Hobby Issues

Posted By: barrysloate

Joe- I think the conflict of interest in a grading service selling cards would be significantly worse. First, they aren't even in the business of selling cards. Second, the worst thing an auctioneer could do is bump somebody's bid 10%. A grading service could trim and alter cards and then put them in their own holders. This is something that was actually done by one of the very first people who professionally graded cards; he trimmed them and then he holdered them as NR MT. This miscreant is long out of the hobby and I think today he is selling vacuum cleaners door to door, or something of that ilk.

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  #8  
Old 11-27-2006, 05:08 PM
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Default Clean Sweep's Stance on Larger Hobby Issues

Posted By: Joe D.

I agree with what you said.

My point was... if an auctioneer cannot claim to be completely impartial - they open the door to someone mistrusting the results of the particular lot, or worse the entire auction.


I am still not sure it matters either way... because it is well known that an auctioneer increases his benefit as the price of the item increases in the auction (whether the auctioneer owns the item or not)... so I guess you have to trust the auctioneer either way.


Edit to say:
Barry - I agree it would be much worse if the graders started selling cards. I was just thinking that the belief that they do not sell cards helps the hobby trust their work... similarly I think an auctioneer would be given the same extra level of trust if he could make a similar claim. But you are right... much worse if the graders started selling cards.

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  #9  
Old 11-27-2006, 05:14 PM
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Default Clean Sweep's Stance on Larger Hobby Issues

Posted By: John S

I have no issues with a dealer owning material that is being auctioned. It is the bidder's responsibility to research both material and auction house. If a potential bidder is concerned that a lot is owned by the auction house, ask before you bid. Employing sound bidding strategies is the most effective methodology to avoid the effects of shill bidding.

Steve and Barry are both assets to the hobby. I have never had any concerns bidding in either of their auctions.

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  #10  
Old 11-27-2006, 05:24 PM
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Default Clean Sweep's Stance on Larger Hobby Issues

Posted By: leon

Thanks Steve for coming on and giving your companies views. I don't have a problem with auction houses auctioning their own stuff but I think having an asterisk next to personally owned ones would be a good idea. If I am not mistaking Lew did that for some of his auctions. I was fortunate to snag several with asterisks . It goes along the lines of full disclosure, imo. I always thought/think that if an authenticator authenticates something and also owns it, it should be mentioned up front...I don't believe that's the case though and maybe it's changed, or hopefully, I'm wrong.... best regards

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  #11  
Old 11-27-2006, 05:27 PM
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Posted By: Joe D.

I think disclosure of this type of ownership would combat any potential finger pointing.

Which in the long term helps the auction house.

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  #12  
Old 11-27-2006, 05:28 PM
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Posted By: barrysloate

I think Leon, Larry, and others are making fair points and I have decided to list the lots I own in any future auctions I conduct. If that adds to bidder's peace of mind, then it's a good thing.

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  #13  
Old 11-27-2006, 05:28 PM
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Posted By: Jay

I agree with Leon. I don't buy the "either you trust me or you don't arguement". Place a star next to owned lots and eliminate the issue.

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  #14  
Old 11-27-2006, 05:31 PM
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Posted By: Joe D.

as always you are a stand up guy and a credit to the hobby.

I look forward to bidding in your auctions for many years to come.

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Old 11-27-2006, 05:40 PM
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Default Clean Sweep's Stance on Larger Hobby Issues

Posted By: Dan Koteles

who is doing that Barry ? I know you are stating that this is the 2Nd(in your opinion)worst thing to be done. This is opening a can of worms that can mislead others into believing that you are certain that this practice is being done AND you and other auction houses are w/o faults at all. This can be a gain on your part to get more to participate in your auctions with the publicity that these situations are bringing forth.

It is easy to know why you wouldnt want someone to see what cards that are yours, cause if they are purchased or cherry picked off of ebay ,someone can quickly reasearch what you paid for it :and then wouldnt you think that you are competing against yourself ?

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  #16  
Old 11-27-2006, 05:50 PM
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Posted By: barrysloate

Dan- I'm not sure I understand what you mean. I said in my previous post I will in all future auctions list the lots that I own. If people want to bid differently on those lots, that's a chance I am willing to take. Edited to say I see you were referring to my original post. I was just explaining the worst case scenario with regard to Joe D.s point, and grading services selling cards would be a much greater conflict of interest. Obviously, the only fear bidders would have bidding on the auctioneer's lots was that he might bump them for his own gain.

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Old 11-27-2006, 06:22 PM
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Posted By: warshawlaw

First, a disclosure: I've participated in Steve's auctions many times, won some lots and never had a complaint. The items are well described, delivered timely and have often been purchased for less than my max bid. In other words, I trust his auctions and have absolutely no axe to grind here.

Question: Since you are one of the few who admits to owning what he sells, when you sell your own items do you feel it is right to charge a buyer's premium? I've always felt that it was a bit odd to charge a mark-up as if the card was consigned when it isn't. Do you think an auction could work with some lots that are identified as owned lots and that do not have a BP attached to them?

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Old 11-27-2006, 06:37 PM
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Posted By: barrysloate

Adam- that is a fair point although it would create some billing inconsistencies for those who might win multiple lots. I suppose bidders might even go an increment higher if they weren't charged the 15% fee. I have no trouble myself identifying lots I own, but would probably calculate all lots the same and leave the buyer's premium as is. But your idea is worth consideration.

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Old 11-27-2006, 06:38 PM
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Posted By: Dan Koteles

the self owned lots arent really a big deal, because a well groomed buyer would know when they are paying too much for a card and would stop bidding regardless of who owns the card.

Shill bidding would be hard to prove ,I dont think that you would do it, but if somone did shill bid and got stuck with the card , iam sure they have a partner somewhere that they could dump it to: and again it would be tough to prove.



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Old 11-27-2006, 06:47 PM
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Posted By: barrysloate

Dan- those are good points and in the end one should bid only if they have faith in the process. If you think the auction house isn't kosher take their catalog and toss it in the trash. There is no way to prove anything. I bid in auctions too and I choose the ones I feel most comfortable with. I ignore the others.

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  #21  
Old 11-27-2006, 06:59 PM
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Posted By: Larry

Adam-
That was a very interesting point, if there is a position that an auction house takes regarding honesty/disclosure etc., why does an auction house need a BP of 15-20% on their own items since the bidder may go higher then? The answer is that no one right now will give away the juice no matter how honest they auction operates and technically, the auction house should disclose those lots.

In reality, it really does not matter because as Dan K says, a saavy bidder knows what they are willing to pay. Technically, Steve, Barry or any other auctions that have their own items up should disclose them separately or denoted by asterisk if they are very concerned with ethics alone. Or in Doug Allen's situation, he is very forthcoming on what he feels is Mastronet's position and that you have to respect, even if you disagree with him, he has class.

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Old 11-28-2006, 11:43 AM
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Posted By: TONY

I recall that Greg Bussineau sold the card for the owner who at the time was Bill Mastro
He hand delivered to Jim Copeland in California
It was a private treaty sale, not sold at auction
This is my recollection of the transaction
Any additional info would be helpful

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Old 11-28-2006, 12:40 PM
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Posted By: Darren

Thank you Steve for this post.

For the record, I buy from you regularly and have been pleased 100% of the time.

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  #24  
Old 11-28-2006, 12:46 PM
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Posted By: Bob

Ever since Steve started describing the backs of cards and occasionally posting back scans, a few years back, I have been 100% satisfied with our transactions. The more deatiled the descriptions, the less chance of buyer's remorse and increased sales and customer satisfaction.

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Old 11-29-2006, 11:56 AM
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Posted By: Jason L

Steve,
thank you for coming on here and answering these questions. Very forthright and honorable business behavior.

All,
I think it would be very good business practice for an auctioneer to disclose his own lots, and here's why:
I believe that over time, the practice of doing this will actually engender more trust in the honest auctioneer, because it adds more information for the buyers. If an auctioneer has a history of disclosing all of his own material, then this becomes a quantifiable population of items that offer up proof of the auctioneer's honesty and the integrity of his auctions....because presumably, a buyer could see that those lots have sold at comparable and fair market prices to those lots which were consigned.
I make some assumptions here regarding ability to track these transactions, the concept of fair market prices, and the like, but I think my main point is that disclosure adds info, and buyers like to feel informed...
I don't think it's a required practice, but I think it would be a very profitable practice in that it should attract buyers

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