Thursday, June 5, 2014

Auction Logic - or Lack Thereof

This year's Memorial Day weekend was different than most for me, as I am usually in the kitchen days prior, getting things ready for a family cookout for Mr. P.'s side. We didn't get together with his family for various reasons.  So, my sisters and I (Panoply), went to an auction on Saturday of that weekend.  The good news? It turned out to be a great day at the auction from a buyer's perspective. The bad news?  We were NOT prepared for what we could have scored that day because a) the gavel came down so fast on certain items and b) our decision to even go to the auction was a bit impulsive because we had a previous commitment on our side of the family planned for that evening, and we just weren't mentally in the mood, do you know what I mean?

Look at this gorgeous couch, below.  I wasn't prepared for photos, either, as evidenced by the angle and lighting.  It was already pushed aside as sold when I took these pictures.
The couch that sold for $50
The condition of this beauty was mint, or near mint.  Look at the carving on the back, below.
That floral basket is typical of early 20th Century, and the pattern is on everything from wood carvings to hand-embroidered linens to hand-beaded purses from the era.  Here's a look at the gorgeous leg, below, with a truer look at the (clean) fabric and wood coloring of the piece.
Okay, here's the really, really bad part:  the couch sold for $50!!! And we didn't get it!  There were furniture deals galore, like a West Virginia hand-carved walnut corner cabinet for $60, and so much more.  In general, salt-glazed crocks consistently sell high at auction in our region, and that remains unchanged for at least the past ten years.  So, you could buy an entire living room, dining room and bedroom for what you'd pay for one crock, at least at this day's auction.  There were some World War I photos that also sold, individually, quite expensively - for more than the couch.

We did manage to fill the car with our purchases, and what we came away with were items typical of each of our styles. M rescued a composition doll and a quilt.  J rescued six (6!) Winchester, Virginia handmade ladderback chairs with rush seats (last thing her husband said as we were leaving was "if you buy more chairs, make sure we can sit in them this time").  I bought some great Blenko glasses that match something I already have in tableware, I just haven't quite figured it out yet (need to take inventory).  I know I have a classic, Blenko water pitcher that's either an exact match or close enough - from the mid-1960s - in Peacock.  I'll be keeping these.  I have another set from my MIL that are clear, and I love their thickness, durability, and easy-to-hold dimpling.
Handmade, West Virginia Blenko Glassware, Crackled & Dimpled,  They are never quite uniform when produced by hand, but these look especially wonky due to the old ironstone plate they're photographed on.
I also bought an instant collection of ten (10) head vases from the 1950s-1960s.  When they came up, the three of us agreed if they went cheap, I'd take them all, then we'd divide them and split the cost.  I won, and I took three, and the other two split the other seven.  I let them have first choices, so the one on the far right is a no-name, flaky chick.  The other two are Napco and more valuable because of the jewelry, no chips. Each is worth more than gavel price, and we're selling them all.
Subset of Napco head vases
A couple other items I picked up are metals - a mechanical Uncle Sam bank, and a very cool, Council of Virginia plaque, commemorating the 350th Jamestown Expedition (which was in 1957).
Mechanical Uncle Sam bank, Seal of Council of Virginia
                     
Then, there always seems to be at least one real oddity at auction.  This one was no different, in that there was a (non-working) electric chair for sale.  I've forgotten the gavel price, but I think it was below $100.
One of the auction staff hamming it up in the electric chair
We had to leave the auction before it was anywhere near finished.  There were some great, old apothecary bottles with Charleston, West Virginia in relief on them, more furniture, lots of vintage hats, and plenty of good box lots that we missed out on.  You just never know how the stars will align on auction day, but one thing's pretty certain - there is no logic to the buyers' collective brainpower - it seems to be pure instinct and/or impulse when it comes to prices paid for items on the block.

Oh yea, remember when I said Springfield 2014 was pretty much bust?  It's true.  You know how you walk away and think long and hard about the things you didn't buy?  Well, I saw this chandelier, the vendor had just dropped the price, but it was in one of our first tents visited, with the rain, etc, I walked away.....long story short, I bought the chandelier a week later, via phone.  

I received the chandelier in less than perfect condition - twenty crystal drops were chipped or broken to the point of unusable (why didn't they remove the crystals before packing????). They're in CA, pickin', not due back in OH until mid-June, but they tell me they'll make the purchase whole by replacing the crystals.  In the meantime, the burden is on me to file a claim with the USPS for the refund.  I've already spent more than three hours unpacking, separating and sorting the pieces, taking photos, and trying to put it back together as best I can. Grrrrr. 
Chandelier, as received, with crystals that had fallen off.
Broken and chipped crystals, shards of glass
After working all afternoon on the chandelier, I managed to reposition all the crystals except for the bottom circle (underneath the light bulbs), where I left off all the broken ones. Here's a little better photo of what it's supposed to look like (below). I'll adjust all the wires once all the drops are on.
So, we'll see where this saga leads. I was hoping to hang it in my office/spare bedroom, which has a sort of Art Deco vibe with most of my vintage and antique mesh and beaded purses. Right now, in my book, its purchase and accompanying headache is right up there with auction logic - or lack thereof. Mr. P. walked in while I was on the floor, trying to assemble it, and said, "that's kinda cute" (the light). Can you believe it?  I would've expected him to ask how much I paid or where I planned to put it, but never a compliment.  No logic. 

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