Is this an "internet auction?"
Because we have a large web presence, people often assume that we are essentially a cyber business / ecommerce site. That is not the case. We are a real, live auction house based out of an historic gallery in Sparks, Maryland, in which we hold real, live auctions. In other words, we hold each of our auctions on one specific date, people travel to our building, they register for a bidding number, and they bid. However, a huge portion of the bids actually come from outside the auction gallery. We have people from all over the country bidding live over the telephone, live over the internet, and leaving bids ahead of time that we execute in their absence when the auction occurs. (Please see "How do I bid?" below or click here for more information.)
When is your next auction?
We always keep you posted on our home page about our next auction date. At this time, our stoneware / redware auctions tend to be held in March, July and October.
I have a piece of pottery I want to sell, but it's probably only worth a few hundred dollars. Do you only sell high-value items or will you sell my piece for me?
We sell pottery in almost all price ranges! Most of the pieces we sell, in fact, are not exceptional, ultra-rare examples. Some people look at our highlights pages and assume that we only deal in those sorts of pieces, but that is not the case. Please feel free to contact us with your antique American stoneware or redware and if we feel it would be a good fit for our auction, we will be happy to discuss its value with you. (Click here for more info on having us sell your pottery for you.)
Can I send you photos of my piece(s) for evaluation?
Absolutely! In fact, we are almost always unable to give an accurate value of an item without seeing photos of it. The easiest way for you to send photos to us is to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. (If you have questions about how to do that, feel free to contact us.) If you'd rather send us photos the old-fashioned way, you can simply mail them to Crocker Farm, 15900 York Rd, Sparks, MD 21152.
We offer a 100% free pre-auction evaluation of your pottery, so feel free to contact us.
What is your commission?
We charge the seller rates as low as 12.5% of the selling price, with a nominal listing fee per lot.
How long does it take for me to receive payment after the auction, and how am I paid?
We mail you a check within 30 days of the auction.
How do I get my items to you?
There are basically three ways for us to receive your pieces:
Because we deal with consignors from all over the country, most of the pieces we sell are shipped to us. See "How should I ship my pottery?" below.
In the case of large collections or extremely valuable pieces, when feasible we can often pick up your pieces, and we travel extensively.
If you live nearby or otherwise would like to deliver your pieces, we are very accessible at our auction gallery, 15900 York Road, Sparks, Maryland 21152. (Directions.) Please simply contact us at least a day ahead of time if you'd like to meet with us there, as we are open by appointment only.
How should I ship my pottery?
We have been packing and shipping stoneware and redware for thirty years, so we are well-versed in this area. While these methods can vary somewhat depending on what you are shipping, following these steps is a good rule of thumb for safe transit of anything you may wish to send.
The main step you can take in making sure your pottery arrives safely is double-boxing with styrofoam peanuts and/or bubble wrap. In other words, you should pack your item in one box that it fits in comfortably, and ideally you should wrap that item in bubble wrap then fill the box with peanuts. You should then take that first box and put that inside another box in which it fits comfortably. You should fill the space between those two boxes with peanuts.
Realistically, you do have some leeway in packing materials. For instance, depending on the size of a piece, peanuts alone can probably do the job. However, the method above is the ideal packing method. If you have questions at all about this, please feel free to contact us.
Many of our customers do not pack their own items, but simply have the UPS Store do it for them. Click here for a list of UPS Store locations.
As far as the actual shipping process goes, we have been recommending UPS for years and feel that they do a great job handling our packages. However, we also use the U.S. Postal Service frequently, and have been happy with FedEx. Basically, if you pack your item well, short of some strange catastrophe, it will arrive safely without any problems. We have shipped and received thousands of pieces over the last five years alone and have had very few actual problems with shipping damage, and almost every single one was the result of poor packing.
UPS Ground, USPS Priority Mail, and FedEx Ground are the specific services we generally recommend using.
Our shipping address is:
Crocker Farm, Inc.
15900 York Road
Sparks, MD 21152
What kind of paperwork is involved in consigning to you?
The only paperwork you have to deal with is our simple consignment agreement, which we generally mail you after we receive your item(s). In our consignment contract, you agree to just a few simple points: That you own the items, that you want us to sell them for you, that you agree to pay our low rate, and that we pay you within 30 days of the auction in which they are sold.
How do I bid?
You can bid live at our auction gallery; live over the telephone (we call you just before the lot sells); live over the internet (powered by LiveAuctioneers.com); and absentee (you leave confidential bids with us, either via phone, email, or directly through our online catalog). Please click here for a complete rundown of how to bid.
How do you handle absentee ("left") bids?
In short, we attempt to win the item for the lowest price possible for you. We bid competitively and act as your surrogate. We do not "run" bids or open the bidding at your bid, and your bid is kept completely confidential before the auction. We are serious about honest and forthright handling of your left bids.
Can anyone bid?
Yes! We welcome all to bid either live, in-person, or via one of our many absentee bidding methods (phone, internet, etc). If you are new to us, we may ask you for a bank letter of credit before we can accept your personal check, and if setting up some form of absentee bidding, we often ask for a credit card number simply to secure your bids. (Please feel free to call or email us if you have any questions about this.) However, in general, registering to bid either in-person or via phone / absentee bidding is about as easy for new bidders as it is for established ones. It takes only a minute or two to set you up.
What is the current bid on a particular lot?
We sometimes get this question from people who have participated in various absentee or phone bid auctions. However, our auction does not work that way. Each lot is sold in real time, usually in less than a minute, at a live auction. We often have absentee bids (sometimes called "left bids") in-hand before the auction on a particular lot, but those bids are kept confidential and are only bid in real time during the auction, as if the absentee bidder were present in the room.
When do you post your online catalog?
Leading up to any given auction, we add photos of selected "Featured Lots" to showcase what we feel are exceptional pieces. However, those lots are just a fraction of the hundreds of pieces we sell in each of our auctions. Usually about two weeks before our auction date, we post a full, free online catalog for you to view. You can even leave absentee bids right from each item page (this is, however, just one of many ways for you to bid). Here's a link to an online catalog from one of our completed previous sales, just to give you an idea of what it looks like.
When will the print catalog be ready?
Our printed catalog--a spiral-bound, full-color, roughly 150-page book--is one of the very best references on American stoneware and redware you can buy today. We always try to mail the catalog about two weeks before auction day, but sometimes we don't achieve this goal, particularly if we receive a lot of last-minute consignments.
How do I buy a copy of your catalog?
You can order our catalog a few different ways:
Visit our online store at www.crockerfarm.com/store/ and order with your credit card.
Give us a call at (410) 472-2016, and you can pay by credit card, as well.
Mail a check (made payable to "Crocker Farm") to: Crocker Farm, 15900 York Road, Sparks, MD 21152. We charge $30 per catalog and $6.65 for flat-rate Priority Mail shipping.
Our shipping rate for catalogs is flat, so if we charge you $6.65 to ship a $30 catalog via Priority Mail, if you buy three catalogs, your total will be $96.45.
Can I look at the pieces in person?
Yes! We hold an auction preview the day before, and the morning of, each auction, during which you can view and handle every lot in the sale. If you're unable to attend the preview but would still like to view some pieces before you bid, we are happy to schedule a private viewing, so please feel free to contact us.
How do you notify me if I'm a successful bidder?
If you were a successful phone, absentee, or internet bidder and we have an email address on file for you, you will receive an invoice via email early the following week (usually by the end of day, Monday). If we do not have an email address on file for you, we mail you a paper invoice. If you prefer to be contacted another way, just let us know.
The invoice we send you will include the items you won, their hammer prices, your buyer's premium (see "What is your buyer's premium ... ?" below), and your shipping / insurance fee (see "How do I receive the items I won?" below).
How do I receive the items I won?
If you live nearby or would just rather pick your items up, you can feel free to visit our gallery in Sparks, MD and take possession of your won lots. (We are open by appointment only, so please contact us before you make the trip.) However, the vast majority of our bidders have their items shipped to them.
We are experts in packing and shipping utilitarian American pottery and have shipped thousands of pieces over the last almost-thirty years. Unlike many auction houses that require you to deal with a third-party shipper, we do all of our own packing in-house, and send your pieces on their way to your doorstep.
We ship via UPS Ground.
On occasion we have people ask before the auction what a particular piece will cost to ship from Maryland to a particular Zip Code. We are happy to provide a rough estimate for this purpose, but there are a few different factors that determine what we will charge to ship an item--for instance, how many pieces you won (we can often combine a couple of smaller pieces into one box), and what the item ends up selling for (the insurance value is a big part of determining the cost of transporting an item). In general, just to give you a rough idea of what this usually costs, a not-overly-sized vessel (say, two gallons or under) shipped to a not-too-distant location (say, the northeastern U.S.) with a not-very-high hammer price (say, $300) will probably cost you around $35 to pack and ship.
What is your buyer's premium (and what is a buyer's premium)?
A buyer's premium is an almost-universal fee charged at auction houses, paid by the buyer as a percentage of the hammer price. Our buyer's premium for check and cash payments received with 15 days of your invoice is 18%. For example, let's say you win a lot that is hammered down for $1000 and you pay right away by check. Your buyer's premium is $180 (18% of $1000) and you would write us a check for $1180.
There are some other possible fees that can be added onto the hammer price of the lots you win, depending on how you bid or how you pay, as follows:
If you pay by credit card or PayPal, there is a 5% surchage on the hammer price. (In the above example, the amount you would owe if paying by credit card would be $1230.)
Payment is due upon receipt of your invoice, and payments that are not received within 15 days of your invoice are subject to a 5% surcharge on the hammer price.
If you bid via LiveAuctioneers (live internet bidding on liveauctioneers.com), LiveAuctioneers charges 5% of the hammer price for that service, and 5% is added onto your buyer's premium. (In the above examples, if you win a lot by bidding on liveauctioneers.com and you pay by check in a timely manner, you would owe $1230. (To further clarify, if you are browsing our online catalog directly through our website--click here for an example--and are leaving absentee bids, that is not considered live internet bidding, and you are not charged the extra 3% fee.)
Do I have to pay sales tax?
The only sales tax we are required to collect is Maryland state sales tax, which is 6%. Whether or not you must pay sales tax depends on your circumstances:
If you are bidding over the phone, via the internet, or absentee, you do not live in the State of Maryland, and you have your item(s) shipped to you, you pay no sales tax.
If you are bidding over the phone, via the internet, or absentee and you live in Maryland, you must pay sales tax (unless you have a retail sales tax number; see below).
If you attend the auction in person, even if you are not a Maryland resident, you must pay sales tax (unless you have a retail sales tax number; see below).
If you would otherwise be required to pay Maryland sales tax in one of the scenarios above, but you have a retail sales tax number, you do not have to pay sales tax unless your total payment is less than $200. (The State of Maryland will not allow a tax exemption unless you are paying $200 or more.) You can use a sales tax number from any of the 50 states; Maryland will, in the case of "antiques and used collectibles," accept sales tax numbers from other states, but you must provide us with a copy of your certificate.