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by Ray Carlson

Q: I am interested in antiques and may bid on a clock at an upcoming auction. I do not have time to visit several antique stores to see what a good price might be. Can I use the Internet?

A: Of course. Start by going to eBay and clicking on Search. Type in key words that describe the item you are considering like the type of clock and add the word, "antique." Items currently up for bid will appear. Click on refinements in the left column and on "show only." Next click "completed listings." From the new list, look at those that are closest to the item you are considering. You will see the price that someone was willing to pay. Consider all costs including the shipping price and whether the seller is from another country that would add customs fees. Also look at the number of bids to get an idea as to the item's popularity. Look carefully at the pictures and descriptions to identify the item's condition and special features. Decide what factors appear to lead to higher prices.

In addition, type something like "completed auctions antique clocks price" into the search line for Google or Bing or Yahoo. From the websites listed, go to those that combine results from multiple auctions and enter the keywords into the search box provided. Again, note the features and conditions that seem to influence the selling prices. Add these to the ones you saw at eBay.

Usually one or two sites will be more comprehensive. With clocks, the most recommended is AntiqueClocksPriceGuide This site allows everyone to see pictures and descriptions but charges a fee to see selling prices. That fee can be worthwhile if the site shows items similar to the one you want. Combining these insights should increase your confidence that you recognize an appropriate price range and what does and does not justify paying more. As a result, you can avoid getting caught in a bidding war.

Published: Courier 1/20/13 - Page 3C