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Picture This: James D. Julia Auctioneers Debuts 360-Degree Views of Auction Lots

by WorthPoint Staff (11/26/12).

To view all side of this Tiffany Millefiori vase, one would put the cursor on one of the arrows to rotate the image.

This camera symbol with the circulating arrows indicate that the item is available in Julia’s 360° View technology.

The one thing you can’t have too much of when it comes to buying antique treasures at auction would have to be information. Sure, most online and catalogs listing give the basics like size, materials, and a general condition report, plus a still photo. But what does the item really look like from every angle? Does it have any wear or damage the photos don’t reveal? And are the colors as vibrant on the front as is on the back?

As auction customers, we’ve all been the situation of wanting to bid on an item but not having enough information to confidently do so. That’s all about to change, thanks to James D. Julia Auctioneers, one of the nation’s top 10 antique auction houses.

In association with the company’s November, 2012 Lamp & Glass (Nov. 28-29) and Advertising, Toy & Doll Auction (Nov. 30) events, Julia’s has just unveiled its brand new 360° View technology. This new feature, which details and magnifies multiple angles of each lot, allows prospective bidders to inspect items from every perspective—from the comfort of their own homes, and the convenience of their own computer. It’s as if lots were placed on a slowly rotating Lazy Susan for one’s personal review and evaluation.

To experience this technology firsthand, visit the Julia website and click on the rotating camera icon located at the end of the lot description in the online catalog. In the company’s print catalog, lots with the 360° View feature are noted with this icon at the end of the item’s description.

A select group of lots in the company’s upcoming November, 2012 events feature this new 360° View technology; the company plans on rolling this feature out on a larger scale in upcoming auctions.

To learn more about this exciting technology, WorthPoint spoke with Mark Ford, who joined James D. Julia in August as the company’s first CEO.

WorthPoint: Mark, the best ideas come from the most unexpected sources. Tell us, what was the inspiration behind Julia’s 360° View technology?

Mark Ford: Julia’s has a long history of coming up with innovative and creative solutions to better serve our consigners and buyers. Many years ago Jim Julia recognized the importance of the Internet to the auction industry. Fundamentally, it removed geographical boundaries from the equation. No longer did it matter if you were located in London, New York or Fairfield, Maine. We could provide a world-class experience to both our buyers and our sellers from Central Maine.

We made several decisions to adapt to the new reality. We changed our catalog presentation, moving to a very high-quality bound four-color catalog. We focused on bringing experts onto our staff and adding their expertise to our catalog descriptions, and we offer a 45-day limited guarantee on all lots offered at our auction. We also introduced our own website around the same time, and partnered with Artfact to bring our auction to the world. Our management team, including Jim, Fred Olsen, Mike Fredericks and our sales coordinators, discussed several ideas to continue to this legacy. The 360-degree rotation came out of one of those meetings.

WorthPoint: If you don’t mind sharing company secrets, how does 360° View actually works?

Ford: Well, the technology itself is not proprietary. After our management team made the decision to move forward with the concept, our operations team was challenged to find a way to actually make it happen. Mike Fredericks, our operations manager, sourced a rotating display, and we set up our cameras to capture an image every one-third of a second. Our Internet technology team found the software to weave these photos together and create moving images from stills. Once we had “proof of concept” and the basics worked out, we upgraded our rotating platform to a device that could handle heavier materials and maintain a consistent rotation speed. Moving forward, we’ll be looking at ways to add efficiencies and scale to this offering as it evolves.

WorthPoint: The Internet has fundamentally changed the auction business, as well as the way auction participants choose what they will bid on, and how they will bid. How does 360° View and other recent Julia introductions address these new realities?

Ford: Yes, this is absolutely the case throughout the catalog auction industry today. Approximately 30 percent of most auction sales are to buyers who are physically present in the audience during the auction event. That means that 70 percent of the remaining customers never personally see, touch or inspect the lots they are bidding on. And, in some cases, these items may be four-, five- or even six-figures in value. Our primary goal with the roll out of 360° View is providing our offsite clients—whether they are located in New York City, London, Hong Kong or anyplace else in the world—with the ability to come as close as holding our lots in their hands as possible.

Today, we are living in a mobile society. From smart phones to tablets to laptops, we now expect to have the information we want instantaneously available at our fingertips. The 360° View technology is just the latest in a series of enhancements Julia’s is making to our client’s virtual experience. In the past few months, we have rolled out electronic features including the ability to “explode” high definition images online, bid on passed lots and link our print catalogs to online information and images via QR (quick recognition) codes. And there is more—much more—to come, so stay tuned!

WorthPoint: Wow, it sounds like you have given much thought to the future of auctions, both from the buyers’ and sellers’ perspectives. What does Julia’s believe 360° View, and advances like it, mean for the industry moving forward?

Ford: We aren’t really looking to change the industry. Our goal is simply to market our consigners goods in the most effective means possible which in turn means maximum return for the seller. At the same time, absentee bidders want as much information as possible to make the best buying decision possible. Thus, the more we do to educate and assist our buyers the greater our likelihood of maximizing the consigners returns. Julia’s believes by providing honest and complete descriptions, high quality photography and catalogs, and technologies that allows the client to inspect items “on demand” from their own home, we can meet our mission of honesty, transparency and fair dealing.

WorthPoint: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

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One Response to “Picture This: James D. Julia Auctioneers Debuts 360-Degree Views of Auction Lots”

  1. AuctionGoer says:

    Well this 360 James Julias photo viewer works about as well as the website. Not good.

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