The Country Auction

Auction FindsI was later to the auction barn than I like.  Cars already filled the closest parking areas.  The usual crowd was there, in force.  It was a lovely afternoon, and this was the place to be.  A quick scan of the two buildings full of tables and racks told me several choice pieces were to be had, if fortune favored us.  Let the games begin…

Promptly at 4 o’clock, the auctioneer ascended his perch and donned a microphone.  Eager attendees quickly surrounded the first rack up for bid, jockeying for position and view. 

I watched from among the milling browsers, waiting for a later rack of some targeted treasures I had my eye on. Because I need pieces for the decoupauge project I’m planning for Channel 25, a vintage wood artist’s box and antique frame were high on my list.  When they pulled the rack with my items forward, I followed it, finding a place where I could see what was happening through the crowd. 

At this auction, the bid is for “choice” of anything on the rack.  The trick is to get what you want before someone else does, and yet stay in the range you are willing to pay.  I bid a bit more for the box and frame than I normally would because I need them for the feature; they had to come home with me.   And they did.

On another rack, I secured a box of high-quality decorative framed prints and a set of six lead crystal etched wine glasses from Scotland.  Good acquisitions for the shop.  My husband and I wrapped the glasses, carefully, for transport.  Butch usually lets me do the bidding while he carries what I buy to the truck.  Gotta love the guy.

As hay racks full of stacks and boxes of merchandise were pulled to the center, one-by-one, we watched, entered the bidding occasionally, ate pork chop sandwiches, and visited with friends, all while staying alert to the ebb and flow of action.

Hubby took over as I left to attend a bridal shower.  I told him I was particularly interested in the hand-painted tea table and gaudy, crystal-draped candle sconces that would be auctioned some time later.  We both decided we should bid on several of the decorative table lamps and two other pieces of furniture. 

“Try to get the bisque pug dog in the case.  He is unusual,” I told him, and gave him a top range in price.

“Really?  You think he is worth that much?”

“He’s old and has character; dogs are popular.”

“O.K.,” he said.

 I’m fortunate my husband supports me in these decisions.  He respects my taste and how well I know our customers.  Eager to report a success, he called me on my way to the shower to tell me he was able to get the candle sconces in our price range.  “They auctioned them right after you left,” he said.

“Fantastic!  They’re a great shabby chic’ set,” I enthused.

When I came home, he said, “I got the dog, and you were right.  I had to bid against several others for him.  But I didn’t get the tea table; the bidding was fierce for it.” 

“I’m disappointed, but not surprised; it was a beautiful piece.  What did it bring?”  When he told me, I agreed the markup would have been too high to justify staying in the bidding. 

As usual, we came home with some of the items we liked, but certainly not all.  Auctions are highly competitive; you win some and lose some.  But there is always another one, next week.

[For more information on the darling pug dog or set of vintage candlelabra,  e-mail farmgrov@mtco.com or comment on this blog.]

About Sharon L. Clemens

Sharon and husband Merle and their children owned and operated a specialty shop and restaurant in a restored dairy barn for thirteen years in a village in Illinois. After closing their restaurant, they converted the barn into the family home and moved their shop to the garden level. They operated a collectable shop as a home-based business for another thirteen years before retiring to the country life. Sharon has been a special feature guest on the local NBC telelvision affiliate and has spoken professionally on topics relating to herb gardening and cottage lifestyle. In addition to conducting workshops and programs, Sharon writes a weekly cottage lifestyle e-newsletter called “Cottage Chat” and a Word Press blog: Seasons of Farm Grove. She has written five novels, The Younger Girl, Door County Cottage, Timeless-A Door County Love Story, Door County Cabin and Door County Escape, love stories with traditional values set in Door County, Wisconsin.
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