“John, get over it. Bidding issues happen all the time. Join the club.”
I know that’s probably what you’re all thinking and I agree. I’ve been the under-bidder many times before and it’s never a happy feeling. Not succeeding this time was a little different.
No one had seen a House of Representatives bookcase before (probably ca. 1857 and made by Bembe & Kimbel for the House). Dealers who have seen it all have told me that it was rare. My disappointment is a notch higher due to the fact that we may never see one again. Even Herter Brothers beds, though infinitely more valuable, come up more often than these (or should I use the singular form, “this”).
It’s kind of a klunky, simple bookcase – but, it may be the only one left that we know of.
In this case, it was not a system glitch or auction house glitch or anything insidious at all – as anyone without raised blood pressure would have guessed. Although it appears that my $1,625 bid should have won over a winning $1,600 bid, the fact is my bid was an invalid one (although accepted by the system) – it did not conform to the bid increments that the auction house used
Thanks to Vernon Powell, Jr. of Harlowe-Powell we have the following explanation of how the above could occur:
In the bidding process on our dedicated online bid computer screen, your last bid was $1500, then an in-house absentee bidder bid $1600. Our person executing the internet bids entered the $1600 floor bid and Artfact asked for the next incremental bid amount of $1700. Since you left $1625, your bid was not acknowledged. If you had bid $1698, your bid would not have been acknowledged. It had to be in $100 increments at this level.
I get it. Yes, it is my fault for not double-checking the bid increment policies, but being a computer software professional for the past 20 years and having bid online hundreds of times, I’m used to bidding systems enforcing bid increments and not accepting invalid increments.
In this case, it is not an in-house system that is accepting their bids, it is ArtFact Live. Apparently, there isn’t a way for ArtFact live to be configured to the auction house’s preferred bid increment schedule. ArtFact will accept anything you put in there in between increments.
In the end, I am aware that I would have never won anyway, even if my higher $1,625 bed was utilized since the winning bidder had left a max bid significantly above mine.
Again, from Vernon:
I think the revealing of the fact that a $2000 absentee bid had been left on the item, yet is sold for only $1600, is testimony that Harlowe-Powell Auction did what we say we do when it comes to executing absentee bids. We bid for the absentee bidder as though the absentee bidder were present. Since we had an absentee bid of $2000, if the internet had acknowledged your $1625 bid, then the in-house absentee bidder would have bid $1700, and both Harlowe-Powell and the consignor would have made more money.
Thanks go out to Vernon at Harlowe-Powell for the detailed explanation. It makes me feel better about being the under-bidder on this rare bookcase.