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Who was the person credited with the concept of a world's fair?

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World's Fair
by E.L. Doctorow


This novel tells the story of Edgar Altshuler, a 9-year-old boy from the Bronx, and his adventures at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. On his first visit to the fair, Edgar is enthralled by industry's vision of the futuresafe, secure and prosperous cities, speedy and cheap transportation and modern invention to make life easier. On his second visit, he sees that the exhibits are constructed of gypsum whose paint is peeling and that the displays are really toys.
                                   
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Are Auctions More Honest Today?
by Bob Brooke


 

Traditionally, auctions are sales where a group of people bid on items presented by a fast-talking auctioneer. Some of these fast-talkers speak so fast, it’s often impossible to tell what they’re saying. In a matter of minutes, they’re able to turn over an item from the world of the unsold to the world of the sold.



And while these traditional auctions are social affairs, they attracted some unscrupulous bidders. Many auctions offer specialized merchandise. Antiques auctions, often located in rural areas, had once attracted a particular type of crowd—a crowd of antiques dealers and collectors.

Auctions have been a traditional and favored inventory source for antiques dealers for decades. Unfortunately, the competition for auction inventory has become keener in more recently.



Antiques that would once have made their way to a local auction house are now being sold on the Internet in both online auctions and store sites like Etsy and Ruby Lane. At today’s live and online auctions, there’s increased bidding competition from decorators and interior designers, as well as upscale homeowners who have plenty of money to spend. Collectors are also cutting out the middleman and going direct to auctions for both selling items from their collections and new acquisitions. Auction-goers have come to dread the term "phone bidder" because it usually translates as "deep pockets."



If a dealer really wants an item for resale, he or she can't be so much in love with it that they’d be willing to stay married to it which is just what will happen if they bid it so high they'd have to price it for resale far above its value to any potential customer. But reining in bidding in the heat of the adrenaline rush is easier said than done. More than once, an impulsive dealer has confessed that he paid way too much for the item at auction. The limitations on a dealer's bidding capacity for items intended for resale are a matter not just of money, but also of expertise. A bidder, even a dealer, needs to know about what he or she is bidding on? Therefore, auctions always involve a certain element of risk.

Now that saleable antiques are getting more scarce, auctions are a place where buyers often behave badly. Some might just call this behavior "tricks of the trade." but they’re really a violation of auction etiquette if not of ethics.

Some buyers rearrange the contents of box lots during the auction preview. In this case, a buyer arranges his or her own box lot by surreptitiously switching items between boxes previously arranged by the staff of the auction house. In this way, the buyer amasses a lot he or she would like, cherry picking at a box-lot price. Naturally, the buyer has do this late enough in the preview period so that someone else can't come behind and rearrange the same group of items to satisfy their needs..

Dealers have even been known to talk down merchandise in which they're particularly interested so as to discourage other bidders so that they can acquire a valuable resale item cheap.

And even though it’s illegal, some dealers have banded together to sort out the best items up for auction and bid against each other on each of the items so that each dealer wins the item he or she wants.

Before the decorators, interior designers, and upscale homeowners began going to auctions, dealers would often sit together in the front row. When an item came up for bid, it seemed that it was sold without any movement from the audience----no raising hands, no calling out bids. As it turned out, these dealers would wink, raise a finger, or nod to the auctioneer to indicate their incremental bid. Today, many auctions use cards that bidders must hold up to bid. A much more democratic way of doing things.

With the Covid-19 Pandemic, a lot has changed, including antiques auctions. Since people haven’t been allowed to gather for live auctions, Internet auctions have ramped up considerably. Since bidders all bid separately without knowing what others are bidding, unfair practices are kept to a minimum. Internet auctions have leveled the playing field. Usually, auctions offer items one at a time, rather than in box lots. And instead of bidding ending in a matter of minutes, it often continues for a specified time, generally no more than a day.

Ebay was the first online auction site. It offered everything from soup to nuts using an online bidding format that usually ended in seven days, but could be repeated if the item didn’t sell the first time around. But savvy bidders quickly learned to outbid the competition in the last few seconds of bidding. Over time, people got tired of bidding on items that they knew they would never win. So eBay sellers went the “buy-it-now” route for many items.

But many traditional auction houses, including Sotheby’s and Christie’s, the best in the business, have set up shop online. For one thing, it opens up their auctions to a worldwide market, ensuring that more items sell and for much higher prices in many cases.



Other auction houses such as Andrew Jones Auctions of Los Angeles, Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers of Cranston, Rhode Island, Ahlers & Ogletree Auction Gallery of Atlanta, Georgia, Miller & Miller of Ontario, Canada, also use have taken to using several auction sites such as LiveAuctioneers, 1stdibs, and Invaluable.com to get wider coverage, thus ensuring that their items go to a larger audience.

Online auctions are also a boon to collectors. Instead of having to trudge from one live auction to another, they can search for the item they want and check out several online auctions in quick succession. Online auction sites such as LiveAuctioneers, 1stdibs, and Invaluable.com list items from a number of small auction houses at the same time. It’s even possible to check items that have been sold in previous recent auctions to see how much particular items sold for.

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How to Recognize and Refinish Antiques for Pleasure and Profit

Book: How to Recognizing and Refinishing Antiques for Pleasure and Profit
Have you ever bought an antique or collectible that was less than perfect and needed some TLC? Bob's new book offers tips and step-by- step instructions for simple maintenance and restoration of common antiques.

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