The word auction is derived from the latin term “augeo” which means ‘I Increase’ or ‘I augment’. Auctions have been around since 500 B.C. According to ancient texts, in Babylon, women were married off through auctions conducted annually and marrying a daughter off outside of auctions was considered illegal. It would raise quite a furore to have such practices happening today, but in a civilised world, auctions for artefacts, property and even famous props from movies are exciting events. These are closely followed by collector and appraiser alike.

Many tech-savvy organizations are jumping aboard the online auction wagon. Some big names include internationally reputed auction houses like Sotheby’s. Others offer a variety of items ranging from rare, priceless artefacts to popular props from iconic, classic TV shows and movies. A recent enquiry that came in to us was about costumes from the 1939 classic, the Wizard of Oz. Bids in online auctions previously conducted by cable channels like the AMC, a first of its kind effort by a TV Channel raised about $200,000 last year. The proceeds of this went to the Film Foundation, headed by Martin Scorsese for preserving negatives of classic films.

Such online auctions serve to show that one never knows what is going to be amongst the top sellers, or most sought after items. For rare collectibles and for iconic cult pieces, there are always buyers who even look for individual credit approvals to participate and buy in online auctions. Besides being highly lucrative, the catch is of course to find the right appraiser who can ascertain the value of the item. You would want to be sure that you are buying a micro-jet plane that flew in the movie ‘Octopussy’, and not some clever model a very enterprising bidder managed to put up.

Online auctions held by reputed auction houses ascertain that only authenticated collectibles are sold on their website. There will be rigid quality checks and documentation processes to ensure the credibility of every item that is sold or bid on. Often many quirky items are sold at exorbitant prices, as these have cult fan followers looking to get their hands on it. Recently, Yahoo had an online auction which sold a costume from’ Xena: Warrior Princess’ worn by actress Lucy Lawless for $15,000. Rapid revenues and high stakes make online auctions a very sought after platform for both buyers and sellers looking to make a profit. The question isn’t always about finding a rare artefact; even quirky items may prove to be invaluable following an appraisal and could fetch a whopping amount in online auctions. Many of these online auctions could also serve to raise revenue for deserving charities looking for funds.