I can't resist the lure of an estate auction, so I set my alarm yesterday and went to check one out about 30 minutes down the road. On the drive over, I'm giving myself the auction pep talk......
"Browse through before the auction starts and make a list of the lot numbers you want to bid on. Stick to the pre-determined price."
"Don't buy things you wouldn't normally buy in an antique shop or flea market."
"No furniture, no matter how cheap or fabulous. You have no room for more furniture."
You see, it's really easy to get caught up in the experience of a fast paced auction. For instance, I see this wonderful white porch swing....I don't need this, not sure where I would put it; but if the bidding only gets to $40 or so, how could I NOT buy this?? See what I mean? It's all so tempting.
In theory, auctions are probably the worst case scenario for a bargain hunter. You have a group of people all wanting the same thing and they are willing to bid against one another for the item. Sometimes it happens that way, and then sometimes nobody wants what you have your eye on and then the system works in your favor. This vintage girlie calendar sold for around $25. I thought that was high, but what do I know about old calenders?
After telling myself I wasn't going to buy any furniture, I came home with this. It was once a clock, but now it only has the innards. I think it's a beautiful piece, though, and probably 100 years old. I'll find a little nook for it, it's not too big.
Love this skull and turkey feather fan. I ended up bidding against a friend of mine for 2 of each of these. I went to her later and offered her one of the skulls and one fan. She was thrilled, so we split the price and each got one.
It was a long day, sitting under a tent in the drizzling rain, feeling dirty and icky because everything you touch has a coat of grime on it, but I'll take that over shopping in a sterile mall with no personality any day of the week!
I've been to a few auctions in my time, so I thought I would leave you with a few helpful tips that I've picked up over the years.
1. Get there early enough to grab a good seat. You can put a jacket or bag down to hold it and then go do your browsing and register for a bidding number. I always carry a folding chair in my car just in case all seats are taken.
2. Be willing to go up to an even number when bidding. For instance....instead of stopping at $27.50, go up to $30. People seem to think, "Ill go up to $30 on that, but not over." Then when you say $30, they will drop out of the bidding.
3. Don't let someone have something for $5. If you see no other bidders paying attention, throw a few bids in there and then drop back. Do you really want someone to get a box full of carnival glass for $5? Is this mean spirited?.....no, it's all a game.
4. Don't seem too eager for anything. If you hover around an item or spend too much time checking it out, people watch you and get curious.
5. Be sure and check out furniture and glassware carefully. These items can have splits, damaged surfaces or cracks and you can't see them when the auctioneer is holding the item up. Sometimes they'll mention it when it comes up for bid, sometimes not.
6. If someone wins a box of items and you see one thing in it that you want, don't be afraid to make them an offer on that thing. Lots of times they've just bought the box as a whole and if you make them a fair offer, they are willing to give you the item you want.
7. Pack a sandwich and drink. You really don't want to be eating the hot dogs they have for sale at these events. (At least I don't!)
8. Stay til the very end of the auction. Everyone is tired and the crowd starts to thin out. The auctioneer can never get to everything, so he encourages you to bring things to the front that you want to bid on. This way you can throw some things together in a box and just bid on what you want. By this point, there's not too many people bidding against you.
9. Find an able bodied worker at the end to help you load up. It is well worth the $5 or $10 tip you give him.
If anyone has a tip or two to add...I'd love to hear about it!