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Secrets of Antique Auctions

Maybe when YOU go on a date, you go dancing, or go bar-hopping, or to a fantastic concert or some other glamorous thing.


A rave = “some other glamorous thing”

We recently got a babysitter and a whole evening to ourselves, so naturally we headed straight an event where the average age was three times our own and the place smelled of grandma-moth-balls. Yep, I’m talking a wild night of antique auctions!

Don’t be jealous.

I know you’d do the same thing if you knew the lay of the land, so I’m going to fill you in on the secrets of antique auctions, so you never have to do tame, boring things like couples massages and wine tastings ever again. You’re welcome.

Note: I do not actually believe massages are boring. I feel the need to clarify so this post doesn’t somehow deter anyone from sending me massage gift certificates. Please send those.

Why go to an Antiques Auction?

Because you like cool, unique stuff at a cheap price. Because it’s actually pretty entertaining to see what other people in the room value, and also to judge them from a distance. Because you like gorgeous old furniture and decorations that you can’t find at ikea:Because you DON’T like gorgeous old furniture but you DO like old neon bar signs, crusty old books and other oddities. Because you like being the youngest person in the room.

Our Auction Date Night

We pointed our car straight out of town toward the middle-of-freaking-nowhere Georgia and found a little auction. It was centered in what I’m pretty sure is an actual ghost down, and was probably the only building with lights on at 8 p.m. on a Friday night. But it was HOPPIN’.

If you want to bid, you have to register first. Usually there’s a very nice old lady manning a table, and you give her your name and drivers license in exchange for a bidder number and card, which usually looks something like this:

When you win an auction, they’ll use this number to know who won. It’s always been free to register at all the auctions I’ve attended.

If you get there early enough, you can check out all the goods before the auction starts. We were late, but here’s a sample of the piles of junk + treasures that they sold at this auction:
Then you take a seat and wait for the action.

That’s when THE FUN BEGINS.

Here’s an example of the action via my phone’s video camera. You can’t really see it in the video, but they’re selling a cool old cowbell. If the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “cowbell” is that old Saturday Night Live skit, don’t worry: Andy takes care of that for you at the end of the video.

So it’s a lot of loudness, a lot of talking and meaningless words, then a winner. Fun, right?

Mid-Post POP QUIZ

The first thing they sold at this auction was this set of old leatherbound volumes. Any guesses as to what’s in those volumes?

Some antique encyclopedias, perhaps? Or old hospital records? Maybe collections of wartime love letters?

Nope: Playboy Magazines. Every single issue, starting with #2. It sold for $500. (Are you KICKING yourself for missing THAT deal?)

Unfortunately, this particular auction was light on the furniture and heavy on the UNnecessities. Things like cow crossing signs (sold for $35):

But there were some cool things scattered here and there. Sorry for the terrible pics, but in this shot they’re selling this really cool old fan (sold for $40) which I think would be a fun addition to a little office vignette:

From Decor8blog.com

So there are (usually) treasures to be found, although on this adventure there wasn’t anything calling my name. The auctions with more furniture are usually more fun (in my opinion) but we still had a great time, and I made a new best friend in the elderly gentleman sitting next to me. Nothing like meeting a charming “other man” while on a date with your husband, right?

Here are the deets if you want to check one out yourself:

How do you find these thrilling, non-stop fun-filled events?

We usually just google “antiques auction atlanta,” but we’ve had some success searching for auctions using www.AuctionZip.com. Most of the ones we find are held monthly. We’ve found some auctions just by stopping in at antiques dealers, because sometimes they’re nowhere to be found online. Once you find one, show up early so you can check out the goods before the auction begins.

source

What’s important to keep in mind?

Bring checks, because they don’t all accept credit cards. Go early so you can see what’s there before the auction starts. Don’t be the first bidder on any particular item – let the auctioneer keep dropping the price until someone else starts bidding. Don’t wave your hand around frantically for no reason unless you actually want to bid on something. Some auctions have buyer’s fees on top of the purchase price. That’s not usually the case in my experience, but check first to make sure.

What do you think? Sounds like the time of your life, right? Any regular auction attenders have great tips to add?

#bobvila


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Comments

  1. Sounds like a blast!!! I want to go next time. How did I not know that you’re so close to me in GA? I’m in SC. I think we should plan a bloggy outting with girls in the Southeast and meet everyone face-to-face.

  2. hahaha! I’ve never been to an antique auction, or a rave. Our date nights usually consist of watching Castle and petting the cats. We live a life of excitement. :P

  3. oooh, I loved this post!! I have never been to an antique auction, but I want to go now after reading this!

  4. cassie says:

    oh i wish i could get my husband to come to auctions with me! he thinks it would be no fun, but i am pretty sure i would be so thrilled at his presence that i could ensure him some after-auction fun. wink wink.

  5. Amy Renea says:

    It’s official…we’re soul sisters.

    My #1 date night request is ALWAYS an auction :) …and for some reason I thought you were a local PA girl, not GA?? Forgive me and my facebooking dumbness.

    ANYWHO…that playboy collection actually sounds pretty interesting (for about $20, not $500)…and you are RIGHT on about the not waving your hand frantically…did that once ;)

  6. Renee S. says:

    I’m going to start googling to find some auctions. I’m in the Atlanta area also. Maybe I’ll run into you at one. That sounds like a fun date night. Now I just have to convince my husband it’ll be fun!

  7. ange says:

    Good times, good times! Sorry you missed out on that $500 collection, maybe next time. ;)

  8. dawn says:

    my employment is auctions! I am the little or big old lady behind the table handing out numbers and taking your money or sometimes I am the lady clerking the sale along side the auctioneer been in this for about 35 years FUN never dull NEVER boring! my daughter in law is an auctioneer in North Carolina it is in the blood and thank you for sharing love Aunt Dawn

  9. Faith says:

    I’ve never been to one but they actually sound fun. I’d probably be too nervous to move though…I still don’t understand how those things work, or how anyone understands what in the world is going on. :)

  10. Becca says:

    haha sounds like a fun date to me! :-) Also, we have a pretty sweet auction once a month in our neighborhood if you ever want to crash it :-)

  11. Michaela says:

    Would it make you feel any better if I told you Vince and I spent a portion of this Valentines’ Day at our local rubbish dump – how’s that for romance? It’s not WHAT you’re doing, it’s the doing it together that counts….

  12. I love auctions too. Around here they don’t even have estate sales, they are all estate auctions.

  13. Emily says:

    Not sure I will ever be able to talk Bo into going with me, but I can dream! ;)

  14. You all know how to live life on the edge!

    I used to go to auctions with my grandpa a lot as a kid. Maybe that’s where my love of junk (I mean antiques) comes from.

  15. I am with you 100%. Auctions are my fave. :)

  16. I love auctions. I am so cheap, though…and sometimes I really miss out! I would rather be at an auction on a date than almost anywhere else!

    blessings,
    karianne

  17. Jennifer says:

    Great info! I have never been but want to!

  18. Perfect date night, I agree! I would love it if you would come link up with Busy Monday (open Monday through Thursdays) at A Pinch of Joy, a linky party for ideas that make life better, easier and more fun!

  19. Oh man Katie and I better start searching for antique auctions. That looks like an amped up garage sale!! :) Thanks for the tips and tricks!

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