Collecting the West
Collecting the West is a standard feature in True West written for the express purposes of educating people about the investment values of Western Americana collectibles and encouraging them to preserve items they cherish and appreciate so that future generations can enjoy them. The feature is written with the collector in mind, and thus, shares what collectors are most interested in: the value of their collectible in the open market. Since private sales are not often shared with members of the press, we commonly report these values in terms of auction house sale results.
Please be aware that all auction pricing discussed in Collecting the West reflects the hammer prices for each lot and the total bids for the entire sale. Valuations reflect the price that would be paid for the object in a sale on the open market between a willing seller and a willing buyer.
Auction houses provide a much-needed service to collectors, and as such, they rightly collect a premium from buyers on top of the hammer price. Yet, we, like many in the collecting field, report the hammer price so we can more accurately reflect what the collector receives for their collectible (as accurate as possible, since some auction houses charge other fees as well—insurance fees, photography fees, etc). In presenting their lots to the public, auction houses express estimated values for lots in their auction catalogues. These are expressed without taking into account any premium that will be paid by the buyer. The hammer prices and the estimated values both reflect open market values.