Loose Change

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Indy Lifestyle Online
FOR COLLECTORS seeking big-money bargains at auction part of the thrill is the crack of hammer on gavel and that firm cry of "Sold..." But the times they are a-changing and even Sotheby's - that most esteemed great-grandfather of auction houses - is setting up shop in cyber space.

Its new joint venture with e-commerce pioneers Amazon.com, which can be found on the Internet at www.sothebys.amazon.com, promises "fine and surprising things online". You still have to pay Sotheby's the traditional buyers' premium of 10 per cent, however, which is added to your bid price.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com said there has effectively been a cap on the value of rare items which have been put up for sale over the Internet. This is largely due to the understandable suspicion among collectors when it comes to making deals over the ether.

"In the world of valuable objects, a big problem with online auctions has been authenticity," Mr Bezos explained. "With Sotheby's reputation and expertise, auction bidders can now buy these items with complete confidence."

Alongside hundreds of pieces of jewellery, paintings and other collectibles, the current centrepiece is 5,000 items from the largest hoard of US baseball memorabilia.