An auction sale

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Sir,
I am writing in connection with an advertisement that appeared in your August 1971 issue, concerning a Veteran and Vintage Auction to be held at Alexandra Palace, London, on November 2nd, 1971. Norman Cole & Partners were the Auctioneers. I entered my Railton in August, tentatively, with the intention of bringing it to the auction if I could get it ready in time. However, this was not possible, owing to unforeseen circumstances, and the result was that the vehicle was not brought to the Auction Rooms, so therefore it was not offered for sale.

We (my wife and I) attended the auction and were very disappointed with the running of this auction for the following reasons:
(a) It was impossible to hear the Auctioneer unless you were within 15-20 ft. of the rostrum (and as you know the Great Hall is a terrific size).
(b) The Auctioneer did not seem to know anything about the vehicles he was selling.
(c) The lots were rushed through at an alarming speed, with, in my opinion, no real attempt to raise the bids.
(d) I should think that, in all, 60%-70% of all vehicles were unsold, as the bids were ridiculously low, and had to he heard to be believed, and the proceedings had an almost comic air.

To crown it all, I have just received an invoice from Mr. Cole & Partners, for £75.00, i.e., 5% of £1,500 for withdrawal of my Railton (which never appeared at the auction).

I have attended many car auctions, but never one quite like this. I wonder how many of your readers who did put up their cars for auction were as disappointed as we were?

May I have your comments please?

G. T. Machan.
Glossop.

[We submitted this letter to Norman Cole & Partners, who reply as follows:

“We would advise that Mr. Machan’s car was entered for our sale on August 11th, 1971, on our standard Conditions of Sale. Condition No. 4 thereon states as follows:

Goods Withdrawn: Any goods entered for sale and withdrawn after the 1st October, 1971, will be subject to a withdrawal fee of 5% of the reserve price.

After this date all entries are listed to appear in the printed catalogue: It is damaging to our reputation if the sale catalogue contains many withdrawals and the condition is imposed to discourage this as far as possible.

In answer to Mr. Machan’s criticisms:

(a) The loudspeaker system operated in an area 60 ft. x 60 ft. in front of the rostrum, where each car was presented whilst it was being sold. The selling area was completely covered by an adequate public address system and each car was brought in front of the rostrum whilst being sold. The hall is enormous and the sale was conducted at one end.
(b) and (c) The sale must go briskly if the Auctioneer is to hold the attention of his audience. The catalogue describes each lot. Only rarely is the Auctioneer required to fill in some missing information.
(d) 56% of the cars offered for sale were sold.

N. R. Cole,
pp Norman Cole & Partners.”