Sunday, 21 November 2010
A day at the auction
For the first time in a couple of years, we viewed and bid on something at an auction this weekend. Our eldest daughter was interested in learning how to buy at auction, and what to look for, and what prices were like. We were out of touch with prices too, so after viewing on Friday afternoon, we joined the scrum yesterday, and managed to get chairs at the back of the room. There were some familiar faces there amongst the dealers, but a lot of folk "off-the-street" so to speak, keen to get a bargain now times are hard.
It was the standard house-clearance type of sale - one or two nice pieces, one very nice piece, and the rest fairly standard china, glass, blankets, lamps, cupboards, tables, and the flotsam and jetsom of domestic life in the 20th Century. A flock of Royal Doulton figurines of ladies in period dress sold for between £20 and £60 a piece. Some gigantic stuffed toy animals sold for between £30 and £70 (this last for a gigantic teddy bear who would be guaranteed to frighten the wits out of any child under about 8!)
People bidding usually make notes on the back of their cards with lot numbers, shorthand descriptions and price (if successful with their bid). One couple I saw had their eye on the star piece of furniture, and prepared for a bidding war. The auctioneer named a starting bid of 4 figures, and the gentleman quickly scrubbed out the item on his card . . .
I spent £5, or rather £5 plus 10% buyer's premium, plus VAT, on a hanging electric lamp looking like a period one. OH will take out the electrical bits and we will stick a candle in and use it as a spare light in times of power cuts. It needs a bit of a polish yet though and I may change the orange chimney for a clear one . . .
Our main interest was in a carved camphorwood chest that our daughter and her boyfriend liked. We were successful with our bid and it will be their joint Christmas present, and will house their spare bed linen and some woollies.