By Randy Heimpel

After banging around on the Internet for 25 years, I have explored most kinds of sites. Old folks like me enjoy many types of locations, covering topic from science to ecology, economics to history, sports to hobbies, and even video games, a holdover from the Atari consoles of the early ‘80s. But the one type I have always found enervating and fun is the auction website.

Because there are many such places, a shopper needs to understand what it is that makes any particular spot more appealing than others.

A search for a top 10 list took me to toptenrreviews.com, where the webmaster displays the criteria for qualification to the lists, as well as variables about each of the 10 locations.

Such factors as selling and listing fees, number of users, feedback, search capabilities, ease of use, payment options, and online support help them rank these chosen sites.

The one factor that makes me want to explore a site or not, assuming there are items for sale in which I have interest, is the number of potential competitors. At this location, these numbers are shared openly, but I suspect that all auction houses don’t actually advertise this number. I would rather have 10 competitors than 10,000, yet many of us comfortably use eBay.com, which has more than 160 million members.

Conducting frequent sales, the Markham, ont.-based auction network allows users to passively watch a sale online, as well as participate fully.

One auction house that recently caught my eye and that certainly deserves attention is located at auctionnetwork.ca. Simply Auction Network, I am doubly fascinated because it is Canadian.

It has a well-organized home page and at first glance shows it has some of the qualities mentioned on the top 10 site. The scroll-down introduction is a little over two pages long.

At the top are nine hot links to Home, Upcoming Auction Sales, Auction News, About Us, Services, Christian Morrisseau, Contact, App, and Search.

Reading the About Us area first, we are told that it is “a full service auction company, servicing thousands of clients across North America and buyers from around the globe.”

The company is “fully equipped with the latest technology in the auction business. In addition to live in-house auctions, we also stream our auctions live over the internet with spirited real-time online bidding (webcast with audio and video).”

The owners are the Fleishman family, experienced and knowledgeable after 40 years of activity at auctions of all kinds. The company office is located in Markham, Ont., and bidders are encouraged to preview sale items there, in person, to ensure they are exactly what the potential buyer seeks, in the condition they want.

The auction is conducted live from the company’s office, and bids are taken from the floor as well as online. Bidders must register and pre-qualify for each auction. It is possible, however, to watch the auction live on your computer and not be a bidder. This might be advisable to see how things are run before you participate as a bidder for the first time.

At this writing, there were five auctions coming up over the next four weeks, seen under the Upcoming Auctions button. A brief description of the kinds of items for sale at each auction is under the date. A click on the blue “View Auction” button calls up a full listing of items with colour photos and more data. Zoom features and an interior search let the buyer see whatever he or she wishes.

Twenty-four hours before the next auction began, there were already start bids on several items. The sale had more than 700 items, and site users will be impressed with the many and varied sort and search tools on the listing sheets.

An interesting feature under the Auction News button contains the history of past sales, shown in the same format as the sheet in which buyers bid. All items sold are shown for auctions going back for over a year. It is impressive, but unfortunately there are no prices realized listed.

I always hope to see the results because it helps with personal valuations and gives users a sense of increased values and reasonable expectations on items they may wish to sell. Seeing past results also would be a useful tool for educating new coin/currency collectors and young enthusiasts.

That point aside, the site does an excellent job of explaining how to participate in your first auction, including how to consign items, and how to register. There is even a friendly survey to complete, which will net you a free gift.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the auction house’s connectivity to artist Christian Morrisseau. Many of his works have been sold at its sales, and there are dozens of images of his interesting, colourful pieces.

Do stop by and browse, even if you have limited interest in bidding. There is lots to see and learn at the Auction Network.

Keep well, and try to donate a coin or two to a youth collector this week.

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