Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sold to the Highest Bidder!

Old Feed Mill Auction CenterThis week I attended (and participated in) my first LIVE auction. Wow! What an unbelievable 3 1/2 hour rush!

It took place at the Old Feed Mill Auction Center in Boonton, NJ [map]. Jack Wootton and his family have run these for years, and you could see that there were quite a few “regulars” in the audience. They do both antique and paper auctions.

I arrived at 3:00pm for the preview, and had already reviewed the catalog of the 1,999 lots to be auctioned that night. During the preview you can check out any of the items that you are interested in.

Then at 5:30pm, everyone takes their seat and the fun begins. They explain the basics, but there were a few things that I didn’t know, but quickly learned. For example, when they call a lot, if noone bids on it, then it gets added to the next lot. Well, I was quite surprised to find out that after winning the first item I bid on (a box of art books), I had actually won 10 other boxes of books!

By the time we reached the final lot, I was exhausted. Aside from the excitement of bidding on items, you also have to keep carrying the stuff out to your car since there’s not a lot of room where you’re sitting. I can see now why some people brought a friend along.

So, while I expected to drive home with 6 or 7 items (mostly club and society rosters and some yearbooks), the truck was fully loaded with crates and boxes of old stuff.

eBay certainly offers a lot of content acquisition opportunities, but none of the excitement of being at a live auction. And while I do enjoy attending book shows, flea markets, estate sales and the occasional garage sale, live auctions now rank #1 for ephemera-seeking thrills.

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