One of the fun things I like to do is attend auctions. Most of the time, I go to small local auction houses, where you see the same characters at each one. You know the guy who’s going to make snide comments about each piece as it comes up, which old lady dealer is going to out bid you on every single piece of silver, and which dapper furniture-maker is going to leave “insultingly low” bids, and walk away with the most interesting pieces. Alex Cooper, where I’ve had some luck before, is presenting an auction this weekend of varied and interesting pieces, so I want to the auction preview with the aforementioned furniture maker. I managed to remember to print out a copy of the catalogue before I went, to I could check off some of the lots I was most likely to bid on. Auctions are a great way to educate your eye, as the item is right in front of you, you can touch it, examine it and check it out, and the piece’s description and estimated value is laid out for you in print.At Cooper’s, they have an auction on Saturday morning with the less expensive items that they gather into the most random lots. If you remember my brass noodle cooker a month or so ago, it was in a lot with two mid-century-modern lucite and chrome lamps. I saw a lot at this auction with a cedar blanket chest, and a contemporary coffee table, two seemingly opposing schools of style.Here are some of the lots and pieces that caught my eye, although they are not necessarily the one’s I’ve got my eye on!
Lot 934: Napoleon III ormolu-mounted partial ebonized and inlaid mahogany marble top console desserte.
Third quarter-19th century; marble top over single drawer, pierced ormolu mounts, marble shelf with reticulated gallery, urn inlaid center back panel flanked by conch shell inlaid panels, on turned feet with ormolu caps, 35 in. H., 57 in. W., 18 1/2 in. D.
Lot 981: Rococo style carved gesso giltwood sunburst clock
19th century; clock with gilt-brass and blue enameled Roman numerals, dial signed "Louis Devienne a Paris," 48 in. Diam.
cylindrical form canister with gilt bands at top and base, with the number 16 in center, 20 in. H.
Estimate $ 250-400
These are cigarette package covers with the President’s seal on them. They slip around a pack of ciggies, so that the brand name wouldn’t show up in photographs. The even have the Surgeon General’s warning on them! (Can’t find the lot number!)
There are some incredible prices at auctions these days. Brown furniture, such as cherry, mahogany and walnut, is going for a steal. I have my eye on a mahogany secretary bookcase, which, along with two Victorian dressers, one with a marble top, are estimated to bring $200-400. Silver and fine china and porcelain is also inexpensive because people
can’t be bothered don’t want to care for it any more.
Wander down to your local auction house, look around, get a feel for how the bidding works, and the pace of things, and then bid on what you love. I guarantee you will find some shockingly great deals! Also, there’s no better way to be green than to buy antiques!