For one thing, they (live auctions) provide the vital link to the hobby’s past, and though they embrace technology to the extent that live sales still include a significant Internet component, it’s still refreshing that stuff in 2008 gets sold in virtually the same fashion that it did three decades earlier in crowded hotel rooms and dingy hotel conference centers.
The sales also provide spectacular showcases for the material itself, displaying it in the aggregate that sometimes gets lost in the massive catalogs.
Hunt Auctions (www.Huntauctions.com), long a proponent of the genre with an old-fashioned live auction near company headquarters in Exton, Pa., has been stepping up its live-auction profile with annual events at the Major League Baseball All-Star FanFest and at the Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Ky.
The latter has been going on for five years now, with the 2008 version slated for Nov. 15 at the museum. Try to picture a better place for a live auction than the headquarters of the bat company that boasts a link to baseball history unlike any other.
I’ve been to the auction a couple of times, and it’s nothing short of sensational. Surrounded by the artifacts of the famed bat maker, the showcases of the live-auction items neatly encircle the main showroom, where seating for a couple of hundred bidders is provided. We’ll have a preview of the Hunt Auction in this week’s edition of Sports Collectors Digest (Nov. 14), but I gotta tell you it would be worth a trip to downtown Louisville even if all they were selling was cases of 1989 Donruss (they aren’t).