You might have noticed that I love going to auctions. The one I used to love to attend has gone from a Saturday morning live auction to an on-line one that seems to drag on forever. Even if it’s not a high stakes auction, there’s nothing like the electricity of a live auction. With that in mind, pal David and I headed up to Pennsylvania over the weekend for my favourite type of auction – a box lot auction!
Box lot auctions are exactly what they sound like. They are usually the result of house-clearings, when items are piled into boxes and hauled to the auction house. Sometimes each box is auctioned individually, and other times, a few boxes are auctioned, and the high bidder gets to choose which box they want. The auctioneer may say that you can choose two or more for the same money, meaning if you bid $100 for one box, you can choose any or all boxes for the same money. The downside of this is that you don’t know if the people you’re bidding against want the same box as you do. But if bidding starts at a dollar, you don’t have too much to lose.
There’s an opportunity to look through the boxes before you bid, and sometimes you might only want one thing in the box. There’s a fair amount of horse-trading that happens after the bidding’s done. The adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure certainly holds true here. The bidding at these auctions is fast and furious, and you really have to pay attention to make sure you get the boxes you want. The auctioneer just jabbers away in his auction patois, and people are calling out the whole time and lot numbers are shouted, so there’s a lot of commotion.
The auction we went to is in the middle of nowhere. We thought we might have taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in deepest Appalachia, but we finally found the spot (and I am not telling where it is!). We did look a bit out of place, me with my cashmere and cords and David with his artist’s aesthetic. I managed not to wear the leopard-print tassel loafers, and smartly put on some thick soled shoes, because these auctions can be cold!
As I said, when you buy a box lot, you take whatever’s in the box, and in with the quilts were a bunch of old wool US Navy sailor uniforms, complete with middy tops and bell-bottom trousers, with the sailor buttons and lace-up backs.
and a straw boater with this label inside. I kept trying to decide whether the book was about South Americans, or Americans from the Southern USA. But with the reference to Latin ways, I think it’s South America. Published in MCMLI or 1951.
And now for what David got! In the telling, it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s actually pretty fabulous. It’s four grape sconces. The grapes and grape leaves are all glass, probably Italian, from Murano, an island off of Venice known for its glassblowing factories. In addition to the grapes and leaves, there are metal stems with tendrils.
Because David is such a genius, he can figure out how this whole thing goes back together. You can see on this one, that there’s a light bulb inside, but the plugs on it were horribly outdated and certainly not up to code. These pieces each weighed about five lbs.
After consulting Mr. Google, we came up with this, which is similar.
All in all, it was a fun evening and I am sure that we will do it again in the not-too-distant future!