Going once, going twice

November 9, 2009

Egg scaleAuctions are my competitive sport. I have an auction game plan; scout out the seat closest to the action; and cozy up to comrade bidders (the ones that won’t be bidding on my stuff). I must be there for the opening item and long to stay until the last “sold.”

I went to my first auction when V. and I were newlyweds. On the “wanted” list: an antique school desk. Won it — and many items since then. My most impulsive buy: a one-horse open sled. That’s right, just like the holiday song. How could I pass it up? I didn’t think about where we would store it at the time. Lucky for me, we converted our old red barn into a photo studio years ago, so there’s lots of space. Also, lucky for me, I have an understanding husband, who doesn’t mind hauling home a one-horse open sled, on a trailer, in the dead of winter.

V is not quite the auction junkie that I am, but understands the pull. He comes by it genetically. His grandfather was known far and wide for his auction buying prowess. His vast, varied collection was the envy of many antique dealers. When he died, the estate had five, I repeat five, auctions. V. scored a large cider press a few years back, which was a family piece.

The estate’s final auction was several weeks ago. There were still some impressive items, but mostly odds and ends. I set my sights on an antique egg scale for V. (The man loves his chickens, so I thought he would get a kick out of it.) I forgot to mention earlier that I’m the auctioneer’s dream. More skilled buyers hold off bidding on the opening price. They let it play out, hoping the auctioneer will drop the price down a bit. Not me. I jump in at the first bid. Perhaps it’s my statement to the crowd that I’m there to win. More likely it’s that I can’t wait to start bidding. I won the egg scale — a bargain at $27, I say. We even use it and  can confirm that our lazy chickens barely lay medium-sized eggs. (V. doesn’t mind, though.)

I’m starting a new generation of Woolf auction junkies. I gave D. and E. each $5 for the last auction. E. had her sights on a music box, but it was going higher than her limit. Her brother came through, giving her a $1. She squealed when the music box was passed to her. Now, strains of “I’d like to teach the world to sing…” drift from her room. It’s all worth it.

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