You may also want
to review the GENERAL AUCTION GUIDE
Do I need a fast computer?
I have questions about a specific item?
How can I participate live online? Where
do I register?
Bidding Live Online
How do I bid?
Absentee and Live bidding - some comments
Potential Areas of Confusion
The Auction Computer Clerk
After the Auction
- I won an item. Now what?
Can I pay by credit card?
When will I receive my poster(s)?
Shipping, Handling and Insurance?
Do you ship overseas?
Are there any taxes that I have to pay?
- In May of 2000, we began broadcasting our live poster auctions in San Francisco
via the Internet. Poster enthusiasts all over the world have the opportunity to
participate live in our sales via computer. Contrary to absentee bidding, you can
place your bids in real time via the Internet when the live event is taking place. You
don't have to be at the floor of the auction house to bid live - you can participate right
from your computer!
- In order to help you understand the exact process of live bidding, we encourage
you to read through the information provided below. Live Auctions have some obvious and
some not so obvious differences from regular online sales (such as
Ebay). Our 2-year experience with live auctions has been excellent.
Our clients have embraced the option of participating live from
their home computers. But there are some subtle differences between
absentee and live bidding and between live bidding and bidding by telephone, fax or in person.
We want to make sure that all participants
understand the exact bidding process.
- Invaluable.com and Ebay Live, our online auction partners, have
added a great
Bidder Demo that explains the live online bidding process. You
will learn how to register for a sale, place bids, and see exactly
what happens when you bid live. Click
here for the online demo.
- Do I need a fast Computer?
- No, not really. Click
to see if your PC or Mac meets the minimum system configuration requirements for live
bidding. These requirements apply only for live bidding you can browse the catalog,
search for lots, and place absentee bids with almost any system configuration.
- I have questions about a specific item in the catalog
- If you have questions about any of the posters or poster lots offered in our
sale, please contact us by
(925.673.3343) or fax (925.673.3355) and we will try to help. If possible, we will be
happy to provide additional details about the condition of a specific poster, send you
additional images by email or simply answer your general questions about the auction. But
please do not wait until the last minute! The closer we get to the auction date, the
busier we are. We will try to respond to all inquiries but encourage you to contact us at
least 2-3 days before the auction.
- To bid online in our poster auction, you need to complete two registration steps:
Invaluable.com or Ebay Live, if you haven't already. Only registered users
can participate in Live Online Auctions.
- 2. Sign up for our auction. Each time you want to participate in a Live Auction,
you have to review and agree to the terms and conditions governing that specific sale.
Once you agree with them, you are ready to participate in that event.
- Make sure to review our
Conditions of Sale.
- How do I bid? Logging and bidding live
- On the day of the auction, a computer participant can open the live auction
window through Invaluable.com and choose to either just "view" the sale or
"view and bid." (Some people choose "view" to make sure they don't
accidentally press the "bid" button). When you "enter" the auction, a
pop-up window (through Java) will open and allow you to participate in the sale. You see
the current lot number, a description of the item and a large image. Since images are
loaded in the background, a computer bidder can easily follow the sale even with a 56 k
modem connection to the Internet. The computer screen will reveal to you at what stage the
bidding is and what bid amount is required. All you have to do is click the
"Bid" button. On the computer screen, both Invaluable absentee and live bidders
are shown as "live" bidders. All other absentee and floor bidders are shown as
- A tip: if you have never participated in an
Invaluable Live Auction sale, you may want
to visit any ongoing
live auction and just
view that sale (no prior registration necessary) to see what this looks like.
- Absentee and Live Bidding - Some Comments
- There are three ways to bid in our auctions: by fax/mail order bid, by telephone
(limited) or live.
Absentee Bids: who wins?
Absentee/Order Bids may be sent to us directly or be submitted via
Invaluable.com. All bids submitted to
are entered into our auction database and will then be executed by the auctioneer on the
day of the auction on behalf of the absentee bidder at the lowest possible price. Absentee
bids ALWAYS have precedence over live bids. In case of multiple, identical absentee bids,
the winner is the person whose bid first reached our office.
Absentee bids placed with
Invaluable.com are unknown to us until the day of the
auction. If someone places an absentee bid with
have no access to the bidder or the amount of the bid. This
information is kept secret. As a result, absentee bids placed directly with us have precedence over
absentee bids placed on
Example: Multiple, Identical Absentee Bids
A poster has a reserve of $500. We receive only one absentee bid by mail on this item for
$500. An Invaluable user also leaves a bid for $500 on Invaluable for the same item. When the lot is
called, the auctioneer open this particular poster at $550 on behalf of the absentee mail
bidder. If nobody else bids $550 (the next increment), the absentee bid for $500 is the
FIRST and WINNING bid. At that point, we have NO WAY of knowing whether the
Invaluable bid for
$500 was an absentee bid or a live bid and when it was placed! All the computer clerk at
the auction sees is that someone online (live OR absentee) is willing to bid $500. Since
the auctioneer already opened the lot with $500 on behalf of the absentee mail bidder, the
computer clerk enters the $500 bid as a floor/absentee bid and asks for $550 from the
internet. But nobody else wants to bid $550. Thus the poster is sold to the absentee mail
bidder for $500.
Why is this important?
It is important, because a person who left an absentee bid with
Invaluable may feel that he/she should have won the item! The
problem is that we have no way of knowing about the Invaluable bids
until the auction begins. In fact, we do not learn about a bid on a
specific item until we open said lot.
- Potential Areas of Confusion
- Absentee bidding is of course, irrelevant to those who
participate live in the auction. As a live bidder, you have the advantage of controlling
your bid and deciding to increase your bid by that one increment that may decide the
winner. Live online bidders have the same advantage as telephone and floor bidders, but
Invaluable's auctions may sometimes be perceived to work in strange ways. Here is how the
Invaluable apparatus works:
Example: Multiple Absentee Bids
Again, a poster has a reserve of $500. Bidding increments are $50 at this point. An
Invaluable user, let's call him FRANK, is the first to leave an absentee bid on
Invaluable for $1000. Now a
second Invaluable absentee bidder, let's call him SAM leaves a bid for $600. Common sense might
suggest that these two bids would be weighed against one another and that the starting
price for the lot would be $650 - one increment higher than the second highest bid. But
since FRANK was the first to leave his absentee bid, he would win the item for $600! His
bid came first! Invaluable absentee bidders will be beaten by the exact amount of their own bids
in the event that an earlier, higher Invaluable absentee has already been placed.
Example: Invaluable Live Bidders vs. Absentee Bidders
The live bidding process works exactly the same way. To continue the previous example,
let's say a floor bidder SALLY now bids $650. The auctioneer accepts her bid. The computer
clerk enters $650 as the leading floor bid. The Invaluable computer system immediately responds
with a bid of $700 (FRANK's absentee bid). Again, the computer clerk does not know whether
this was an absentee bid or a live bid, but it was submitted and the clerk accepts it.
FRANK is the high bidder again at $700. Finally, TOM enters a live bid through
enters $750. The auction clerk sees another bid on his computer: $750. The clerk accepts
the bid and the new high bid is $750. But strangely, FRANK continues to be the high
bidder! Why? Because, as is the case with the Invaluable absentee bids, FRANK'S absentee bid
gets priority status over TOM's newly entered live bid. So no matter what happens online,
FRANK will win the bid against any and all Invaluable live bids up until $1000. In fact, every
time TOM submits a new bid, his bidding amount just ends up being the new high bid on
Invaluable showing FRANK in the lead! (until $1000 is reached).
Where is the problem?
A bidder like Tom may be confused (and probably very upset) when he sees that every time
he leaves a higher live online bid, he is outbid by someone else at exactly his bid
amount! It looks like the auction clerk is constantly accepting someone else's bids and
ignoring poor Tom altogether! The truth is that the auction clerk cannot tell who is
actually submitting a bid online. The auction clerk is merely informed that there is a
bid. He has no way of seeing whether this is a live or an absentee bid or who is
submitting the bid.
Gaps in the Auction Protocol
But the biggest problem is that Invaluable's auction protocol does not even show that TOM ever
participated in the sale. His bid is automatically rejected by the
Invaluable computer system!
The auction protocol will only list FRANK as the bidder at the various stages of the
bidding process and as the final winner of said item.
We (and several other auction houses) have complained to
Invaluable about this issue
and have asked that all participants be incorporated in the protocol for a sold item.
Invaluable has not made any changes.
- The Auction Computer Clerk
- There is only one computer clerk on the auction floor communicating with the
internet bidders (via a computer). The screen he is looking at merely shows "Internet
Bid for $ xxx." The computer clerk has to accept or reject (in case the floor bidding
is already further along) that bid. The clerk does not know whether the bid is an absentee
or a live bid. He also does not know WHO is actually bidding on a specific item. This
information only becomes available once the bid is accepted! Finally, the computer clerk
is merely receiving ONE bid on this screen! There are never multiple online bids that he
can choose from.
- I won an item. Now what?
- All winners will automatically notified both by
Invaluable and us. We require that you
email us your contact information (name, address and telephone number). In response, we
prepare and email your bill. We will calculate your total and will give you several
choices with respect to insurance, packing/packaging and shipping (see below). Payment is
expected within 2 weeks of the close of the auction.
- Payment Options
- We do not accept credit cards for auction purchases. But: you may use a service
BidPay.com to purchase a money
order using your credit card. Bid Pay charges a percentage fee for this service.
- We do accept regular US checks, cashier's checks and US money orders.
- Overseas buyers may purchase a US dollar check from their home bank and mail it
to us. This is the least expensive payment option. You may, of course, use an online
BidPay.com. If you wire
the money directly to our bank account, we charge a flat $30 wire fee for all foreign
wires and $10 for all domestic wires. This flat fee is the minimum service charge that we
pay our bank for incoming wires.
- When do I receive my poster?
- Your poster(s) will be shipped to you after we have received your payment. All
California residents will need to pay 9.25% sales tax to the purchase price and the
buyer's premium (unless you have a valid CA Resale License).
- If you are a new client and decide to pay with a personal check, we will wait for
your check to clear. If you pay by money order or cashier's check, your purchase can be
- We prefer to ship posters on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so that FedEx or other
carriers may not have to store and hold the poster longer than absolutely necessary. If
you need us to expedite your shipment, please contact us.
- Shipping, Handling and Insurance
- Shipping charges depend on the size and weight of the poster and the tube as well
as your physical location.
- Shipping within the USA
We generally ship via the United States Postal Service but
are happy to use FedEx or UPS, if
you prefer. If you have your own FedEx or UPS account, we will be happy to use your account
number. When we ship via
the US Postal Service, we use thick tubes for better protection and add a
delivery confirmation or signed delivery service. Insurance is
- Overseas Shipping
We try to minimize the cost of shipping for all clients. Overseas shipping can
be expensive. When we invoice you, we generally give you a choice between
different US Post Office options. But the US Post Office has certain restrictions on
size/length of tubes to foreign countries.
- A 2-3 pound package to Belgium or Germany with one poster (40 x 24 in.) would
cost approx. $35 (7-14 days) or $40 (3-5 days) + insurance + the cost of a thick
tube (approx. $4-8).
Insurance is optional. We use both the carrier a well as a private
insurance company for all insured packages.
- Please visit the
US Post Office online for exact
insurance prices. We
will quote you the price for insurance when we email you your invoice after the auction.
- We usually sent posters in thick, protective tubes. These costs between $4 and
$8, depending on the size.
All California residents will need to pay sales tax on top of the the purchase price and
the buyer's premium (unless you have a valid CA Resale License).
- There are no taxes for foreign buyers. When we ship overseas, we must declare all
posters for customs for their full purchase price. We understand that the VAT is be very
high in some European countries. Based on our experience, our overseas clients generally
have no problems with Customs when a package is sent via the US Post Office. FedEx and UPS
seem to have stricter regulations and agreements with the customs offices abroad.