The Ultimate REA Auctions Review: The Auction Action Series

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.   

What Is Robert Edward Auctions (REA)?

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.

While specializing in baseball, REA also covers the other major sports (picture taken from Twitter)

What Does REA Specialize In Selling?

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:

  • T206 Honus Wagner card on at least seven separate occasions, the most expensive of which was a PSA 3 ($1,320,000, Spring 2015)
  • 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie PSA 10 ($612,000, February 2021)
  • 1916 M101-4 Sporting News Babe Ruth Rookie PSA 7 ($600,000, Fall 2017)
  • 1914 Baltimore New Babe Ruth ($518,000, Spring 2008)
  • T206 Doyle error card PSA 3 ($414,750, Spring 2012)
  • Circa 1910 Ty Cobb sliding Conlon Photo – Type 1 ($390,000, Fall 2020)
  • Dual signed Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig baseball ($343,650 Spring 2013)
  • 1938 Lou Gehrig Game-Used Yankees Jersey ($329,000 Spring 2011)
REA specializes in baseballs most iconic cards and memorabilia (picture taken from Twitter)

What Kind Of Catalog Does REA Use?

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.

The physical REA catalog is beloved by collectors (look for one on eBay)

What Is The Schedule And Frequency Of Auctions?

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.

What Are The Fees For Buyers And Sellers At REA?

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.

How Do You Place A Bid At Robert Edward Auctions?

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:

  1. Log onto roberedwardauctions.com.
  2. Once logged in on the home page, click on the ‘Auction’ tab.
  3. A drop-down menu will appear and click on the ‘Bid now’ tab.
  4. The auction will pop up, which can be searched numerically, by keyword(s), or by category (e.g., post-war baseball cards (1948-present), pre-1900 baseball cards, unopened boxes and packs, and so on).
  5. Each lot can be highlighted with a simple click.
  6. Once the lot is highlighted, pictures of the item(s) will appear and can be zoomed in for closer scrutiny.
  7. A bidding box will also appear where the bidder is informed of the current and next bids.  The bidder has a choice between bidding the next bid or entering an ‘auto-bid limit, which allows the auction software to bid on your behalf until the bidding hits a maximum limit you have entered.
  8. Then, click the “Place Bid” button and confirm.

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).

How Do Lots Close?

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.

What Payment Methods Does REA Accept?

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.

Shipping Times/Costs And Options

REA’s quick shipping times are legendary.  Longtime customers have sometimes received their winnings before their checks even cleared.

REA prides itself on quick payouts.

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:

  • $10 for invoices valued at less than $1,000
  • $20 for invoices between $1,000 and $5,000
  • $35 for invoices valued between $5,000 and $20,000
  • $50 for invoices valued between $20,000 and $100,000$100 for invoices valued at greater than $100,000.

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.

The Bottom Line Of The Ultimate REA Auctions Review

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.

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