Auctions, Love Them or Hate Them?

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Do you go to Auctions?  I used to go a lot and I had to stop because I was becoming addicted.  I had not been to an auction in about 9 or 10 years until today.  I don’t know what possessed me to go but somewhere, searching something, a few weeks ago, I came across a site called AuctionZip.  This site lets you put in your zip code and do a search in distance of all the upcoming auctions.  Many have picture galleries and I accidentally clicked on one that occurred in December, that had all the Madame Alexander baby dolls brand new from the late 70s.  I was so mad I missed that, it took a couple of days for me to come to terms with it.  Anyway, I saw one for this afternoon about an hour and a half north of me.  Now, if I live in God’s country then an hour and a half north of me is really God’s country.  I think the competition in auctions is much worse the closer to the city you go, so I prefer to go up north or out into the country of Pennsylvania   However, it is getting harder and harder to find anyone that does not know how much something goes for on eBay, and hence harder to find a good deal.

I remember 10 years ago sitting in a small town auction with two older ladies behind me, they had to be in their 70s and as a piece of either pottery or depression glass came up, I heard them whispering what the piece was going for on eBay   It was then I realized the days of the past are over.  I can remember when we came to our house upstate in the summer as a young child, my mother got the auction bug. I was very young but clearly remember attending auctions with her in a huge barn in the next town.  My mother came home with some great finds, like a rickshaw, lots of antique furniture, and more.  I always remember after they auctioned the furniture, they would auction livestock and I always wondered why we could not get some livestock.

What I am struck with the most is so many of the things that are sought after are things my parents had.  Things that my siblings mostly disposed of in a dumpster (after they died) which really upsets me to this day.  At least if it had been given away, but my family and I were on vacation when they did this clean out and if I think about it too much I get violently ill.  So I guess part of me sees some of this stuff and thinks, “Wow, my parents had those tea cups, or those Christmas ornaments from the 1940s etc.”   Maybe I am trying to get a little piece of what they eradicated and hang on to a bit of nostalgia without being a hoarder.

So back to the present, upon getting to the auction site today the street was full of cars even though it was a large building in the middle of farm country.  I saw licence plates from Ohio and since they were going to be auctioning coins for the first 1/2 hour I wanted to think they came for that. It was packed to capacity when I walked in but as they finished the coins some of the collectors left and a few seats opened up.  You could see the hardcore coin collectors with their print out of coins and the same two or three bidders taking everything of value.  They undoubtedly would sell the coins separately on eBay and they knew their prices.

Now, I was not their to buy a lot of junk as I am trying to simplify my life, but I did have a few projects in mind.  I was lucky the other week to find an antique vanity (much like one my mother had) and an antique desk on Craigslist for a song.  I plan to paint the vanity a bright color and use it in a craft room I am planning for my new sewing machine.  So I saw a few other things I would like to try my hand at painting etc.  Last night I made a list of what I wanted, and then did a search online about what they were worth.  When they got to the first thing I wanted, which was what I thought was a child’s youth chair with a pressed back as shown below, I was taken back when the auctioneer said that it did not have the tray and that the owners are going to go and look for it. I don’t know why, but it just made me think I had been wrong or they were wrong, and in the time I was pondering this, the bidding had started, it was up to $25, $27.50, $29, and I just could not bid, not sure why, but I just couldn’t   So it went for $30 or $32 and I was not too upset about not getting it.  Next thing on my list to come up was a wicker child’s rocker,  It just needed some fresh paint and a new cushion.  Well again the bidding started up and the woman behind me started bidding, and it went for $22 or $24 and I had not bid.

This is the chair that I thought was a youth chair and next to it the one that went for $5.

This is the chair that I thought was a youth chair and next to it the one that went for $5.

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The wicker rocker that went for $22 or $24.

The Tin Noisemakers

The Tin Noisemakers

 

 

The three chairs I won.

The three chairs I won.

 

By this time I was wondering what was wrong with me, my search last night told me a chair like that was worth at least $49 but I still could not bid.  So the other little chair I liked came up, I had thought about painting it a nice bright color but it came up so fast and the bid was $5 and it stopped, just as I was ready to bid, it was sold for $5 and that really made me mad.  I do not know whether I just did not feel it, but I just could not bid.  So now I sat and thought to myself, what had I come here for?  Nearly everything on my list was gone and I had not even bid.  Next were some tin noise makers, we had the same ones when I was a kid and I know I have a few from when my oldest kids where young somewhere.  I thought they were cute and that I would be willing to go to maybe $10.  However, it seems others thought they were cute too and  were quickly bid up to $17 or so and I just did not find it worth it, so I passed.  Next was a set of about 18 character glasses.   I was willing to go to like $17 maybe $20 but the bidding went up again and after $24, I lost interest and did not feel it was worth it.

So I know I sound like a dud,  but I tell you, I used to be addicted to auctions and would find no problem bidding until I was the highest bidder on what I wanted and soon had a garage full of stuff I did not really need.  After giving it all away several years ago, I have decided I only want what I indeed love, so I think I am being really good and can tell you there were a few in the crowd that I think may benefit from learning to simplify.  They had some new lots of stuff and the first thing I actually bought were some small LED flashlights for my little guys, they love flashlights.  Then the last thing on my list came up, three little  ladder back chairs that  had perfect rush seats and I thought would make a great project with each painted a different primary color.  The bidding started and I was right in this time and guess what?  I won all 3 for $40 which comes to a little over $13 a chair and I think was a good deal.  That’s all I bought  and I can tell you I did not feel that itch that I had to go to another.  I did see some kind of antique ceiling fan that came out of bar that I truthfully would not give you $5 for go for over $3000, that was fun to watch.  The guy in front of me was bidding like crazy and I wanted to ask him how much it was worth but he left when he lost.  Another tiny, rusty bird cage when for $50 and the auctioneer said it was going for $600 on eBay, I would not give $3 for it.

The Industrial fan that went for about $3000

The Industrial fan that went for about $3000

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A football that I would not even touch let alone give you the hefty price it sold for.

Some Art Deco Light Fixtures that went for a pretty price but again that I would not look twice at.

Some Art Deco Light Fixtures that went for a pretty price but again that I would not look twice at.

So do you go to auctions?  Do you have auction stories?  I would love to hear them.  I feel they have lost their shine because of eBay and that your real chance of finding a bargain is going to be at a yard sale or your elderly neighbors house, because everyone else seems to know exactly what everything is worth and the prices are ridiculous   I remember going to a yard sale about 10 years ago and seeing something, I bargained with the woman who was elderly and when I did she told me she would not go lower than whatever price because that is what they were going for on eBay   Ugh, this was a tiny town yard sale and this elderly woman knew her eBay   It is going to get harder and harder to find those great finds, like the Annalee dolls I found once brand new with tags being sold for 25 cents each.  The  people having the yard sale said their relative gave them to them and it was apparent they really did not care for them.  She even thought they had some more and if I wanted them, they were mine!  Alas, her daughter could not find them but that was a deal!

4 Comments

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4 Responses to Auctions, Love Them or Hate Them?

  1. ellen

    Goodness yes, I love auctions. For us it started out of necessity- we couldnt afford to buy new and found out how cheap a washer/dryer , freezer, furniture etc went for. Auction going is something myhusband and I have in common. BTW pardon typos run ons I am in rehab for a broken hand and typing is still a chore.
    I still have n electrolux vaccum I bought 20 years ago in an auction in the rain for $5 that runs like a top.
    Like you I am seeing more and more doing the ebay game and for me it is less and less fun.
    Oh- I LOVE the art deco lights, but I woulda bid maybe $3 a piece and I know thats notw what they went for!

    • That is great Ellen. Those old Electolux vacuums were workhorses. I remember well growing up with them and have two of them myself that I bought when you actually had the salesman come to your house. The art deco is just not my style but you are right they went for much more than $3.00.

  2. Audra Weathers

    I love auctions, but only the estate auctions. I don’t like the ones put on weekly at auction companies where each item is sold individually. With estate auctions, small items are usually sold as “box lots” and you can sometimes find a treasure at the bottom of a box. Years ago I had my own antique booth and sold on Ebay. It was SUCH hard work and I never made much money. It’s hard for anyone to make money doing that in this economy. I prefer now to go to auctions and hunt for my favorite…vintage Christmas.

    • Hi Audra,

      They did do box lots here and many auctions do for smaller items but I feel differently. I don’t want a whole bunch of junk to find one treasure because I don’t want to have to find something to do with what I don’t want. I just want to keep it simple. LOL I know how hard it is to sell on eBay things from auctions. First given the price of gas, you have to consider that in your overhead and then shipping is crazy expensive and you are not going to sell for the highest price locally in most cases. Then packing, shipping and dealing with those who may file a Paypal dispute because of something not your fault is a royal pain.

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