Auction houses have increasingly become a conduit to sell sport cards, especially cards of high value. At CardLines, we have started a series called Auction Action, which takes a deep dive to examine different auction houses and offers an in-depth review of their operations, offerings, and much more. In this spirit, we present you with the ultimate REA auctions review
Previously, Auction Action kicked off by looking at Heritage Auctions. Now, we continue the reviews with this summary of Robert Edward Auctions.
While eBay remains a popular venue to buy and sell cards, auction houses can sometimes offer a good alternative. Robert Edward Auctions, or simply REA, is one of the premier houses in the hobby. Based out of Chester, New Jersey, REA is a fixture at all the major card shows, and its advertising can be found on many major card websites and hobby periodicals.
The company has been around for over thirty years and offers some of the highest-end items around. Rob Lifson, the founder of REA, is well known in card circles. In 2012, he brought on current president Bryan Dwyer.
Originally, REA was known for one huge auction a year. Dwyer added a second annual auction shortly after joining. In 2016, Lifson retired, and Dwyer assumed ownership of REA. Since then, the auction house has grown to accommodate mainstream card collectors as well as high rollers. They have done so by adding several smaller auctions on an approximately monthly basis.
According to their website, Robert Edward Auctions specializes in “the very best in all areas of baseball collectibles, as well as other sport, non-sport, and Americana.” However, as you can see from the phrasing, the focus is very much on baseball.
The company has auctioned off many of the most iconic pieces in hobby history, including:
REA has a printed catalog for both of their major annual auctions. You can request it through their website. In addition, active bidders will receive a free catalog n the mail and complimentary copies for all future auctions.
To many collectors, the smell of the freshly opened REA catalog on ‘mail day’ marks the beginning of fun-filled hours scouring for baseball treasures. In addition, all the auctions (both major annual and smaller monthly ones) can be found on their easy-to-navigate website.
Robert Edward Auctions has its main auctions in the spring and fall of each year. Their next major auction is scheduled for completion around December 5, 2021. Additionally, their smaller auction occurs more frequently.
Look for the monthly auctions to continue through the winter and into spring, when they will be prepped to offer another major auction.
Let’s take a look at the fees associated with Robert Edward Auctions. The buyer fees are a standard 20%. Therefore, a lot won with a $100 bid will cost the bidder $120 in actual cost. Additionally, winning bidders will be charged tax (if applicable) and postage and insurance.
The buyer’s premium is often negotiated with the auction house based on the value of the offered item. The more expensive the item, the lower the buyer’s premium. In fact, REA has an easy to use ‘consignment’ tab where interested parties can contact the auction house and discuss details of their potential offerings.
Bidding on a lot in an REA auction requires the prospective buyer to register. Once the registration is completed and approved, you receive a user number that will remain with you in subsequent REA auctions. Once the account is set up, the process is relatively straightforward:
The initial bidding usually starts at a fraction of the estimated value of a lot. This process allows for more interested bidders to bid on one particular lot. This element can be important when the auction nears closing time (as we will see below).
Initial bids for lots must be made by 9:00 PM EST. REA will continue to accept bids on lots after 9:00 but only from bidders who have placed a bid on that lot. If you have not bid on an item before 9:00 PM, you cannot place a bid at this point.
After 9:00 PM EST, the auction runs until 10 straight minutes pass without bidding on any lot. Therefore, most auctions will run until after midnight. Then, at 12:00 Midnight AM EST, each lot switches to a 10-minute lot-by-lot closing. Other lots have the 10-minute clock reset every time there is a new bid.
For weary-eyed bidders on the east coast, REA offers the ‘Honest Auto-Bid’ system. The procedure allows you to place your maximum bid confidentially and go to bed. They also provide helpful email alerts to tell you if your bid has been topped.
Payment is due within 14 days of the auction closing, and invoices are sent out to the winning bidders via email. REA accepts various payment methods. These include personal checks (held 5-10 business days), cashier’s checks, certified checks, money orders, wire transfers, and Zelle electronic payments.
REA’s quick shipping times are legendary. Longtime customers have sometimes received their winnings before their checks even cleared.
Conveniently, REA provides a standard fee schedule for shipping and insurance. The amount is calculated based on the invoice amount. However, international shipments, very large heavy items, and items requiring special transport are an exception.
The regular shipping fees are calculated in the following manner:
This standardized shipping/insurance fee schedule is great for buyers because they can calculate the total cost when bidding on an item. In addition, this transparent method helps establish trust with the auction house – no hidden fees.
Robert Edwards Auctions is a great place to pick up sports cards and memorabilia to cross off your bucket list. With so many rare listings, many customers keep the paper catalogs as a reference guide for the future. REA has also taken steps recently to be more inclusive to collectors on a budget.
Their monthly auctions offer some items that any collector can afford. So if you’re a buyer looking to get sports cards and memorabilia from an auction house, REA auctions are a great place in which to participate.