Low-digit surf tag auction monopolized by one bidder

Anonymous bidder buys 7 of 12 tags for more than $24,000
November 24, 2015

Ray Bivens, the state’s state parks director, said he’s thrilled with the excitement surrounding the auction of low-digit surf tags.

“To date we have sold 44 tags totalling over $213,000 a wonderful fundraising success story,” he wrote in a Nov. 13 email. That is equal to over 47,000 instate cars paying an average entrance fee at a fee booth, he said.

Low-digit surf tags prices:

One bidder bought seven of 12 low-digit surf tags available during an online auction from Nov. 4 – 10.

The tags bought were:

• No. 22 – $5,499.99

• No. 33 – $3,100

• No. 44 – $3,100

• No. 66 – $3,800

• No. 77 – $2,601

• Choice of No. from 31 and 59 – $1,800

• Choice of No. from 61 and 99 – $4,150

Remaining tags sold:

• No. 333 – $1,500

• Choice of No. from 101 and 199 – $3,200

• Choice of No. from 202 and 299 – $1,400

• Choice of No. from 301 and 399 – $1,225

• Choice of No. from 401 and 499 – $1,350

Not everyone is as excited about how the auction has played out.

In a letter to the Cape Gazette, Lewes resident James Schorah said he thought the program was a great idea, but that a select few are ruining it for the rest who want a special tag.

“The second offering of certain numbers on the online auction site, that ended Nov. 10, proves my point,” he writes. “A certain bidder, with deep pockets, out bid everyone else and bought all seven of the two digit tags that were available, at a cost of over $24,000.”

Why does someone need seven tags, questioned Schorah, who has also purchased a three-digit tag.

“I know that the people of Delaware love our low numbered license plate tags, and this program is off to a great start, but don't let a few take the fun out of owning a special surf tag for the rest of us,” he said.

Bivens said Schorah’s complaint is the only one he’s gotten about one person buying more than one plate. He said he’s seen a few complaints on social media from people who feel the plates should not have been sold but given first come first serve.

“That would have been a nightmare to manage and defeated the point of this being a fundraiser,” he said.

Rich King of agreed with Schorah. This guy has a good point, he said in a Nov. 13 email.

What $213,000 can buy for the state parks

The low-digit surf tag auction has raised $213,000 for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Parks Division. Ray Bivens, division director, said that’s enough money for:

The salary of 50 lifeguards for the summer


the following items on the critical equipment list: five 72-inch riding mower replacements; two new utility vehicles, such as a Gator or Mule, used by park maintenance and patrol staff; one cabin for Cape Henlopen State Park campground; and one dump truck with a snow plow off the critical equipment list.

“Some people want to have a special number and they will have a hard time getting it due to collectors being able to buy seven tags,” he said.

King said people buying the tags think the tags hold their value.

“I hate to burst their bubble, but they will probably not,” he wrote in a Nov. 13 email. “That is my assumption, because it is only a surf tag.”

King said he doesn’t think the parks division counted on people going buck wild spending money and buying multiple plates.

“I bid up to $19,500 for tag number 2 at the live auction, that was my ceiling,” said King, who lost out to an anonymous bidder who paid $20,500 during a live auction Oct. 31.

Bivens reminded people that within a year period the tag auction winners are required to purchase a surf fishing permit or, said Bivens, the tag could revert back to state parks. He said there is a transfer fee to sell to someone else and that revenue also goes to the state parks.

Bivens said he thinks the value of the tags will go up.

“I have talked to many people who see the tags as an investment that will go up in value over time, especially super-low numbers and doubles. That was the focus of the last online auction,” he said.

The division plans to sell fewer than 100 plates this year. The first online auction will be followed by auctions every two weeks until the end of the year. Further information regarding specific numbered plates, including the No. 1 plate, and other sales or auctions will be announced in 2016.

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