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Space available: auction site debuts

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Astro Auction to benefit STS-107 fund

February 3, 2003 — Kim Poor of Novaspace Galleries is auctioning the remaining prints of his painting Morning Launch, a 1982 photo-like portrait of Columbia, with all proceeds going to the newly-resurrected Space Shuttle Children's Fund to support the STS-107 crew's families.


The signed and numbered edition of Morning Launch sold out shortly after the Challenger explosion.




Astro Auction re-opens faster, better

February 1, 2003 — Following a three month hiatus for upgrades and restructuring, Novaspace Galleries' Astro Auction has reopened with faster, more reliable software and a new approach to consignments.

The website relaunches with "only a handful of invited sellers who have proven track records," wrote Kim Poor in a message to registered users. "Other sellers must apply, sign a contract promising, among other things, superior customer service, business experience and expertise. [Bidders] will also be able to consign goods."

Returning is the popular "Gene Cernan Garage Sale", featuring a selection of memorabilia consigned by the last moonwalker.

"Other astronauts are searching through their own garages in search of items for us. Gene Cernan cleaned out the Cosmosphere of his goods, and will be bringing them out, too," wrote Poor.




Astro Auction may not return in 2003

October 21, 2002 — Novaspace Galleries President Kim Poor has provided a look at their site statistics for Astro Auction, prior to its scheduled shutdown on October 31:
  • 5,000+ lots listed
  • 41-45% lots sold
  • $225,000 in sales
  • 874 registered users
  • 150 auctions daily (average)
  • 161 daily bids (average)
Poor gave three reasons for closing Astro Auction:
  1. Connection - "Our satellite radio keeps going down. Not often, but when it does, it's for a couple of days. We're going to get a redundant connection."
  2. Software - "Needs some work. Can't work on a car while it's moving."
  3. People - "Quality was getting spotty, the outlawed word "awesome" and sideways pictures were beginning to show up. Ending a questionable auction gets people rather surly."
Poor states that the site may not return, but if it does, it will be "slightly redesigned, hopefully faster and more reliable. Instead of only one seller, we'll have about a dozen of the top sellers. If someone wants to sell, they will have to apply, sign a contract, post a bond, etc."




Astro Auction to close for restructuring

October 5, 2002 — Novaspace Galleries has announced it will close its free online auction site, Astro Auction on October 31, for restructuring. In an e-mail sent to users today, Novaspace President Kim Poor summarized the situation:
We have decided to end the Astro Auction... If you are a seller, please set your auctions to end on or before 10/31. If you've been holding any goodies back, now is the time to show it off. We will be showcasing our best stuff for the grand finale.
Poor concluded with a hint at Astro Auction's 2003 return:
Astro Auction will re-emerge next year as a single-seller auction.
Over 4,000 items have been consigned to Astro Auction since it was established in March 2002.




Space available: auction site debuts

March 5, 2002 — Novaspace Galleries, the Tucson, Arizona-based space art and astronaut autograph dealer, announced today Astro Auction, a new online auction site dedicated to space memorabilia and collectibles.

"For space-related items: space art, autographs, artifacts & memorabilia, and astronomy equipment, you will have access to the 40,000 interested prospects and buyers of space stuff on the net," wrote President Kim Poor in an e-mail to Novaspace clients.

"Our customers have been gathered over 25 years of ads, shows, events, and word-of-mouth. You won't find a larger, more targeted group of space enthusiasts anywhere."

Astro Auction, which opened to public bidding and selling as this article went to press, combines a layout similar to sites like eBay, with features such as an anti-snipe automatic time extension and editorial control to prevent abuse of the system.

"Since we're much smaller and focused than eBay," wrote Poor, "we will not allow the shenanigans and scoundrels who prey upon buyers."

"In the case of autopens, we will edit the entry ourselves, since that can be proven," said Poor in an interview with collectSPACE. "Forgeries are harder. I'm sure there will be differences of opinion on those. We'll take them on a case-by-case basis."

Not that Poor is making up the rules as he goes. He has been planning for Astro Auction for the past several years.

"We have so many one-of-a-kind and rare pieces come along that an auction seemed the only fair way to sell them. We'd usually maintain a waiting list for a particular item, say a sold-out Alan Bean piece, and then when we got one, we'd have to go through the list, call or email in order received...it was a pain."

"We have been waiting on the right piece of software. It's very complex. We have been given the chance to modify this software as we need it. We're basically beta-testing it."

To open Astro Auction, Poor populated the site with autographs and artwork from his own store, but it was one particular consignor who inspired the launch of the project now.

"The real impetus was all the Gene Cernan garage sale items he gave us to sell. There were so many things that we had no idea what people would pay, so an auction was the only place for them."

The last man to walk on the Moon (and the author of a book by the same title) consigned so many items that he earned his own category on Astro Auction. Among the lots are ash trays and paperweights commemorating Cernan's flights as well as the autographs of the Apollo 17 crew and a rare 11 by 14 inch photograph matted and then signed by crew members of the first three Space Shuttle flights.

All the moonwalker's lots are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity stating that the item came from Gene Cernan's personal collection.

To attract new bidders and sellers, Poor is offering introductory free listings and no sales commissions for sellers. When the fees do begin, expect a flat sales percentage and a low listing rate.

"I don't like the labyrinthine scheme eBay has," Poor told collectSPACE.

If Poor seems to make a lot of references the world's most popular online auction site, it is not because he is intimidated by their size.

"We don't intend to compete with eBay," explained Poor. "If we were 100% successful in moving all their seller and buyers of space stuff to our site, they wouldn't even notice. But they threatened to kick me off once for complaining about an autopen and that was too much."

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