Drop Off Centers Go Remote in Columbia City, Indiana

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Vaseline glass item brings top dollar at remote broadcast live auction.

In South Carolina, a small piece of Vaseline was dropped off for processing on eBay. It didn't seem to be particularly newsworthy at first; a dealer had previously purchased the small item for ten dollars, and hoped to pull in at least a fifty-dollar profit.

The piece was sent to a drop-off center in the Antique Mall of the Carolinas SC. (This center is in joint venture with CatBecca.com Auctions out of Indiana.) After uploading photos to CatBecca.com, the piece found its way onto the desk of Dave Peterson, expert and author of several books on Vaseline Glass. Peterson is also an advisor for CatBecca.com.

Sudden excitement ensued when Peterson discovered the small piece could be more valuable than it had first appeared. After several phone calls, it became evident that this was a very rare piece of Vaseline known as Cyclone. This Vaseline piece was manufactured by Northwood glass in 1904. They were made via the combination of the twig legs of beads, bark vase and the tops of the ocean shell vase. The piece was inspected for damage and checked under a black light.

In the end, everyone had a share in the elation. This little piece of Vaseline glass was a prize many collectors could only dream of discovering. Bell, the owner of the Antique Mall and the coveted piece, was shocked and pleased with the results of her ten-dollar investment. Vaseline club members received phone calls about the piece – the bidding was on!

For ten days, people placed bids on eBay.com, hoping to be the winner of the valuable Vaseline. After buyer’s premium with heavy bidding, the final hammer brought in a respectable $632.50.

The piece was sold at a live auction in Indiana while its drop-off center was further down in South Carolina. This was a first – REMOTE auctions held LIVE. On the auction floor, a large screen showed the piece to those present at the auction along with those bidding online, but the piece was hundreds of miles away.

More remote auctions are being planned for thousands of pieces in locales such as Cincinnati and England. Later, simulcast auctions using custom software will run in each location linking them to the Indiana Auction house in Indiana.

Big changes will soon be sweeping through the online Auction industry, starting with rural Indiana. There will be more "live-screen" remote auctions – and more fresh discoveries like that of the little Vaseline.

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Phil Wolfe
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