Do you have lots of stuff in your loft, or tucked away in cupboards out of sight? Have you been hoarding it for years in the hope that ‘it’ll be worth something one day?'
Are you an avid viewer of Antiques Roadshow, Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip? Well we are, my husband and I. So, in an effort to ‘test the theory’ we decided to take some of our treasures to our local Auction House.
Initially we approached them with photographs of the things we had chosen to sell to assess their value. The valuer advised us which items would be worth selling and which we’d be better off keeping. In the end we decided to put in: the one-armed-bandit fruit machine my husband had acquired years ago, a reproduction of a film poster advertising ‘Un tranvia Liamado Deseo’ which I took to be ‘A Street Car Named Desire’, staring a very young Marlon Brando and Vivienne Leigh, some security equipment and a rocking horse. These we took to the auction house two weeks before the sale
The sale catalogue was available online a week before the auction and the auction rooms were open for people to view the items. We had great fun looking for our treasurers on the internet. We found they were being sold under Lot numbers 610, 611, 612 and 615. 930 Lots were to be auctioned that day.
We knew our items would not appear until late in the afternoon, so on the day of the sale we went along about mid-day. The auction was already in full swing. The room was crowded but we managed to squeeze into a couple of seats on a large settee, sinking into the deep upholstery and wondering whether we’d ever be able to get up again.
The auction was fascinating to watch. Bids coming in on the internet were flashed up on the screen with a picture of the sale item. Excitement mounted as the prices climbed. I was amazed how much they varied. It became clear that, if you knew what you were doing, you could pick up some fantastic bargains. Whole shelves of glassware went for about £40, dinner services and crockery much less.
Trying our Luck
Then there was jewellery, pottery, vases, coins, stamps, sports gear and military memorabilia. I noted all the prices down in the catalogue. It’s interesting now to look back at them and see the huge disparity between Lots. Most of the items went for under £100 but tension in the room mounted when the bidding went into the thousands, especially with telephone bidders vying with the internet and bidders in the room. An 18th century wine glass fetched over £400, an engraved Bowie Knife £1,600, some dairy equipment £800. It was just as thrilling as it is when you see it on Flog It.
Half-way through, the auctioneer stood down. The second half of the auction was taken by Charlie Ross, (him off the TV). He cracked jokes and made us all laugh. The auction ran behind time but it was such fun we weren’t worried. A frisson of fear and trepidation set in as our items came up. Would they sell or would we have to take them home again? Or, worse still would then go for only a tenner?
It was nearly five o’clock when we reached our first item. I felt quite a thrill as we watched the bidding. I’m happy to say all our items went well. I was sad to see the rocking horse go but I had the satisfaction of knowing it would go to a good home. A young man bought it. I hoped he had children who would enjoy it. So, a little bit of our past has gone.