Monday, May 16, 2011

Auction day

 On Saturday I went to an auction, the kind I don't see around here much anymore. Multi-generational households are not common anymore, let alone farm household auctions.  So when I heard about this one, not far from me, I had to go.

This auction pretty much had it all--a dozen or more hand-stitched quilts, many over 100 years old and in superb condition; dozens of crocks of every size and imaginable shape; lots of old tools, and even an original horse-drawn sleigh complete with original whip.  At sales like this, buying is almost secondary to the auction itself.  How much do things go for?  What is that?  When was the last time you saw one of those?  My dad used to have one of those...

And the list goes on.  You don't get to see things like were sold at this auction very often.  It's even rarer that to find things in such great condition and so many of nearly everything.

You like quilts?  There was a log cabin quilt, crazy quilts, quilt comforters, summer quilts, a Chinese fan quilt, quilts dated 1889 or 1905 and signed by the seamstress.  The most expensive quilt went for $1000--an American eagle quilt with an eagle and shield in each of the four corners. 

You like crocks?  There were Cowden crocks, little crocks, big crocks, decorated crocks, jugs, unusual designs and shapes galore.  The most expensive ones went for $500.

There was furniture and old iron tools, some of which were the object of much discussion, mostly as to their use.  All those things were heavy, and it's hard to imagine how strong someone would need to be to use them.  There was chicken stuff and pig stuff, cow stuff, dishes and pretty glass items, old books, old toys. 

The weather did not cooperate, as it rained or drizzled all day long.  Perhaps that kept the crowd smaller than it might otherwise have been. But those who didn come were prepared to buy and things did not go cheap, for the most part.  Of course, as with any sale, there are always bargains to be had.  You just never know if today's bargain is going to be something you really want. 

I love going to a good auction, even when I can't buy much.  I love seeing the old items.  It's better than going to a museum because at an auction you can handle anything you want.  You can touch it and smell it and hold it, turn it over or tap on it. Museums don't let you do that.

Once the items are sold they disappear into households or antique shops and then into more households.  Museums tend to only get the best and fanciest things, so the everyday things that people used, but are just as interesting, don't usually show up in them.  I like to see the things that people used and made with their own hands. 

I never did find out how much the old sleigh went for.  That was saved for last, and I could only stay until around noon time.  I can report that it was the object of much attention, though likely much of that attention was from people who weren't going to bid on it.  I was interested to see that it came with a whip, and noticed that it had a little pedal on each side to put your foot as you were climbing in to it.  I'll bet it didn't go cheaply.

I haven't been to sale like this one in perhaps 10 years.  I'm sure there's been a couple around that I missed for one reason or another.  I'm awfully glad I didn't miss this one.


Elora said...

How very sad. I've been on the family's end of an auction and it's utterly devasting as you watch your own precious things being sold and hauled away. We held a farm auction when we closed down our livestock operation and it was one of the worst days of my life. I truly hope these folks did all right.


Carolyn H said...

Elora: in this case, the elderly husband had died, and the elderly wife was going to live with relatives--or so I heard on Saturday. The house and land is staying in the family. I suspect, though I don't know, that the family kept what they felt to be the best things--and probably the farm things that were modern enough to still be used.

Cathy said...

Well, the saying goes "one man junk is another man treasure" At least they didn't just didn't throw or burn the stuff