Tom hall auctions

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Going, going, gone? How pandemic changed auctions

ALLENTOWN (AP) — A moment of silence, please, for the good old auction.

Oh, they’re still around. But the in-person auction, with its traditional patter and gavel-banging and crowd buzz, has been giving way in recent years to online business — a change accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, which, according to one study, has advanced the pace of online commerce by two years.

In the “before times,” as the prepandemic era is sometimes known, auction houses hosted in-person events at their headquarters and at properties being liquidated in estate sales, and carried the auctions online, too.

Gathering restrictions put a crimp in the model. But, just as religious services and business meetings could migrate fully online, so could auctions. For buyers, it’s as easy to bid on a grandfather clock or a Babe Ruth baseball card online as in person — easier, really. And, for auction houses, the virtual world provides an immeasurably larger pool of potential bidders.

Local auctioneers say they established an online presence years ago — propelled, in part, by the success of eBay — and foresaw the day it would become the dominant model. All the pandemic did was nudge the timetable.

“We’re meeting people on their personal devices and on their own time,” said Brent Souder of Alderfer Auction in Hatfield, Montgomery County, noting how the change to virtual bidding has lured in that ever-so-desired demographic: the young, or at least the relatively young.

“The demographic of 25 to 45 has grown fivefold” in recent years, Souder said, adding that the change is reflected not only in the methods of bidding — Alderfer has a popular phone app, for instance — but in the items being sought.

“Last month we had an auction of game consoles,” Souder said. “Commodores, Ataris. A gentleman had collected these over the years and we sold more than $20,000 in games and consoles. Some of the antiques are aging out, so to speak. There’s less call for grandfather clocks or a Chippendale set of drawers. People are buying luxury watches, cars and firearms.”

Houses hold two kinds of auctions. One is live — essentially an in-person auction held virtually — and the other is the eBay model of submitting bids over a given time period.

For the highest of high-end auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s, the necessity of moving online during the pandemic spoiled their biggest attractions — formal gatherings of well-heeled bidders who can offer hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for rare paintings by the masters or one-of-a-kind automobiles.

Nobody’s doing that in, say, North Whitehall Township, where Bill Hall and his sister, Cathy Keyes, run the family business, Tom Hall Auctions. You’re not likely to find any Van Goghs among the lots that come through the old red-brick building in the township’s Schnecksville section, and the in-person auctions weren’t soirees but distinctly casual affairs.

That’s not to say they don’t take bids on expensive items — jewels, antiques, rare collectible cards. And since people aren’t spending money on restaurants, night clubs or ball games, they have more to spend on auctions.

“We anticipate getting $10,000 for a Pokemon collection next week,” Bill Hall said, offering a glimpse into the part of human nature that can turn someone’s nostalgia for a childhood diversion into someone’s else’s payday.

Alderfer just shipped a 1953 Porsche to a collector in Norway who paid $118,000 for it. Souder said the company also holds the record for the highest price — $93,000 — paid for a painting by Walter Baum, the Bucks County-born painter who helped found the Allentown Art Museum and the Baum School of Art.

Auctions also draw people looking for practical items. Souder said his newly married daughter and her husband furnished her house through online auctions.

“They were able to set a budget that was good for them and met their needs,” he said.

Alderfer has been online for 15 years and Tom Hall Auctions for about a decade. When the pandemic hit, that experience proved invaluable as virtual demand skyrocketed.

Souder said Alderfer’s website had more than 2 million views in 2020. And Hall said one recent auction demonstrated how the buyer base has expanded in a way unimaginable before the internet.

“We had 20 countries registered to bid on this auction in Schnecksville,” he said.

That said, Hall would like to see in-person auctions survive. Browsing auction lots online isn’t quite the same as getting a close-up look, especially at some of the oddball items that come up for bid. Hall auctioned off a couple of real human skeletons for nearly $1,000 apiece a few years ago.

“I certainly hope (the in-person auction) doesn’t go away completely. I don’t think it will,” he said. “But for some companies it won’t be the standard thing. The live auctions have been terrific over the years. The people you meet at auctions are a different breed, especially the old-timers.”

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Tom Hall Auctions Inc

4644 PA-309, Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, United States

(610) 799-0808

Monday09:00 - 16:00

Tuesday09:00 - 16:00

Wednesday09:00 - 16:00

Thursday09:00 - 16:00

Friday09:00 - 16:00

They take care of everything! We moved from a smaller house and needed to get rid of a LOT of stuff, including some vintage audio gear. Tom Hall Auctions picked up the audio gear from our house and transported it to a warehouse, where they stored it until they were ready to auction it. They have their own movers and charge the customer for pickup, but the price is very reasonable. Plus, these movers are skilled at handling fragile items. The auction house photographed and catalogued the items for auction, and the auction itself appeared to go smoothly. Overall, we were happy with the selling prices. Some things sold for less than expected, but others sold for more. We plan to have Tom Hall auction our furniture when it's ready to move.

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Tom Hall Auctions Inc.

Contents of 6000 Sq. Ft. Home in Bangor Estate 

Sun Oct 17 - 07:00PM - Bangor, Pa2021

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Sun Oct 17 - 07:00PM Bangor, Pa2021

Tom Hall Auctions Inc.View Photo Gallery

Bangor Auction #2! Contents of 6000 Sq. Ft. Home in Bangor Estate Auction to includes 2 carousel horses, antique and Victorian furniture, lots of decorative artwork incl. Limited Editions, prints, oil paintings, posters, semi antique rugs including Palace size Chinese rug, antiques and collectibles and much more! Auction starts closing 7PM Sunday October 17th, 2021 BDI NOW!   [ View Full Listing ]

Vintage Board Games, Video Games and Music Memorab 

Sun Oct 17 - 08:00PM - Schnecksville, Pa2021

Tom Hall Auctions Inc.View Photo Gallery

Sun Oct 17 - 08:00PM Schnecksville, Pa2021

Tom Hall Auctions Inc.View Photo Gallery

Vintage Board Games, Video Games and Music Memorabilia Auction! HUGE Board Game Collection. Games from the 30s to 1990s. Family, character, television, movies and role playing games. Many sold in large lots. Video games from Atari, Nintendo Gameboy and Sega, Pokemon, Zelda and others. Audiophile lovers are included also, Bose model 901 matching speakers. original Master Recording 24kt gold cds,   [ View Full Listing ]

Primitivea and Collectibles Auction 

Wed Oct 20 - 07:00PM - Schnecksville, Pa2021

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Wed Oct 20 - 07:00PM Schnecksville, Pa2021

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What time is it? Auction time! Antique and vintage clocks star in this show, but have many amazing costars. Whether you’re adding to your collection or just begginning one, this auction is styled for you. Primitive household items made of both wood and metal, collectable dolls, tin containers, and even some handmade cuckoo clocks. No matter your style, you’ll find something to love.   [ View Full Listing ]

Antiques, Uniques and Painted Furniture 

Thu Oct 21 - 07:00PM - Coopersburg, Pa2021

Tom Hall Auctions Inc.View Photo Gallery

Thu Oct 21 - 07:00PM Coopersburg, Pa2021

Tom Hall Auctions Inc.View Photo Gallery

Antiques, Uniques and Painted Furniture 6210 Blue Church Rd, Coopersburg, PA Bidding Opens 4PM Tuesday, October 12 Online Auction: 7PM Thursday, October 21, 2021 Buyer Pickup Friday, October 22nd from 1PM - 4PM and Saturday Oct 23rd from 9AM - 1PM ONLY. This home is being sold and all items must be removed during the designated days and times. About this Auction! You can bid online in real time as   [ View Full Listing ]

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