under the hammer

March 2019 Auction

Toronto. You can’t have a society without volunteers and funds. Enthusiasm covers the first and events and fiscal conservatism the latter. To bring in funds beyond membership fees (which are far less than costs) we host fairs and auctions.

Auctions began as a means for members to move the inexpensive and no longer needed items in their collections. The earliest affairs were evening or weekend events organized by members for members. A modest admission fee was charged and sellers paid a small percentage of the sold price (or reserve bid for unsold items). Advertising of the events was minimal.

We began accepting goods from anyone, member or not, and encouraging the general public to attend and bid. As the annual auctions grew in popularity, the closing payout became a bottle neck solved by a computer system and a limit on the number of lots auctioned in an afternoon. A changing of the auction staff prompted a reversion to manual processes and formal documentation.

When the late Christine Mackie joined the society in the late 1980s, she initiated a silent auction at each Toronto meeting. These events were eventually discontinued in the 1990s and then resurrected at the December meetings a few years ago using lots made from items donations to the society.

Over the years, the auction barely paid its way. To add national members as potential bidders, two major mail order auctions were held to disperse collections. The Bill Mair collection in the summer of 2000 and three years later in the spring of 2003, the Walter Shean collection.  Both mail order auctions took too much time and effort resulting in a discontinuation.

After a particular run of low pay-off events, the auctions were cancelled and then resurrected using modern techniques offered by Doug Napier that proved both profitable and shocking to old timers! Lots were vetted and limited to high end items; there were no reserves; winning bidders received their lots and paid only on leaving; sellers were paid a few weeks later by cheque; both buyers and sellers paid the society a fee; all lots were sold; and admission was free.

Auctioneer since 2010 is Clint (Lewko Hryhorijiw – currently our president too). Vetting and sequencing of lots was performed first by Doug Napier (previously PHSC VP) and later by John Kantymir (currently PHSC VP). The runners and recorders vary from event to event while the cash out of buyers and auction reporting is by Sonja Pushchak and John Morten (currently newsletter editor and PHSC Treasurer).

Under the new concepts, the society accepts estates as well as member items for auction with estates paying a higher fee to the society for storage and lot photography. Selected lots are displayed here on the website using thumbnails and a slideshow a few weeks beforehand.  Auctions are held more frequently based on availability of goods. Over time the auctions have shifted from inexpensive old collectibles, to more expensive cameras and accessories, and increasingly on to darkroom gear, studio lighting ,and backdrops as the profession shifts focus to accommodate digital gear.

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