Scattered here on this board and across other SM sites are a few comments from those who bid and won or bid and “lost” on this past weekend’s Becker Auction. I’d love to hear from all of you and gather your comments here.
It would also be interesting to hear from those who just observed — either in person, or via the live-stream.
I was at the live auction for most of the time, and what I missed in person I was streaming at my hotel room. Matt, I think, was there 100% of the time; would we possibly expect otherwise from First Lieutenant Atticus Matticus, Director Of Operations, Technology, Motivation, and All-Around Righteous Action?
I have plenty of observations of the action, both the substance (items, bidders, prices) and the process (the mechanisms and the social psychology of the event were fascinating), and I’m betting Matt and you do too. Collecting reports here from all sides of the event would be pretty interesting, and would be a place for questions and answers (or hypotheses) about this mysterious and brutal ritual.
[In my dreams, it's also a place where I finally respond to the worst of the know-it-all know-nothings. ooooo, so tempting...and it would be so satisfying...!]
I'd also love to hear about fans who managed to snag something; it's been great to read, for instance, that one of you got a blue Hahn...and that a musician friend got the dreamy White J-style Sadowsky bass. So wonderful to learn that some of our lovelies haven't disappeared into the far nowhere after all.
Are you game? If you’ve posted your experience elsewhere, can we convince you to drop a line or two here as well? And I promise lurkers will be gently welcomed, with our gratitude.
I’ll start off with with a couple of mine, in no particular order:
== If I was Auction Queen, I’d have the Auctioneers study the items they will cover. It’s pretty clear they ad lib lists like ours (I’m sure for one of Elizabeth Taylor’s world-famous Hope Diamond necklaces they’d know and use many details). At minimum I’d have them quickly review at least what was printed in the Catalog description, and make sure they understand it.
For instance, it seemed random if they’d mention if an item was custom made for Walter, or was a gift. Or sometimes you could see they were reading a word or two into the description, but wouldn’t necessarily pick up on what was important or even obvious — for instance, from a catalog heading “Bozo Les Paul 227” saying it was a “Les Paul”…but skipping the luthier Bozo and thus not paying attention to the fact that it was Bozo’s version of a Les Paul design, not a Les Paul.
This was an especially frustrating omission for some significant items. Take for instance, Sadowsky’s prototype of the signature model. As I recall, the auctioneer just said “Stage-played Sadowsky” or something. If they had reviewed items, and had someone on hand to expand the meaning and point out the significance (which could be done in a sentence or two) then their few words about an item would be both more informative (and correct) and include what made the item special or unique.
On the other hand, I guess they reasonably assume that bidders have done careful research on the item of interest…at the very least, they have read the catalog description! But observers are more likely to become bidders, I think, if the Auctioneer’s info is engaging and deep(er).
I’m also well aware that my suggested change would go against an industry-wide practice that would be impossible to replace with this suggestion. Hey-- I didn’t say we had to be realistic.
== For a long time, I thought the auction biz practice of setting estimate ranges low went against a robust finding of social cognition: the effect of anchoring and adjustment, or framing. Briefly: anchoring people on a lower quantity — doesn’t matter of what — then having them estimate something else, they will provide lower ending numbers than if anchored on a higher quantity.
But observation of the auction in vivo, if you will (supplemented by a later glance at the literature, I confess) made me realize why their practice was not wrongheaded. (Reasoning on this in a later post, if anybody’s interested). Wonder if anyone else thought about this or about the effect of estimated ranges in general ?
So in short 🤣— let's hear from those who snagged something ..what did you get, and did you get it at your price? …was your guitar well set-up?…what about those who missed out on something?…what was the bidding experience like? … did you go too high or stop too soon?…did you learn something about ‘human nature’ or the ‘engines of commerce’ or ‘modes of production’ lol or whatever?…oh it’s just endless.