I have been trying to get up my nerve to go to an auction since we moved back to Arkansas. I’ve been to auctions about five times in my life: two of them were in Little Rock, when I was visiting my parents from Chicago. I didn’t win anything at the first one, which was sort of a cool barn sale, but I was priced out of just about everything; the second one was similar to the sale I went to last weekend — held at the actual house of the person whose items were being auctioned off. At that one, I won a closet full of vintage clothes. I remember shakily bidding for that and being so pleased that I won it. I can’t remember how much I paid for it, but I definitely did okay re-selling most of the items on eBay. The other auctions were in Chicago, at Direct Auction Galleries, an auction house that has weekly auctions at their space. They were very near where we lived, and in the summers a couple of times, when school was out, I moseyed on down there on a Wednesday and hung around for a few hours. I might have bid a few times, but I never won anything. That all came to a screeching halt when I had the twins, because the only thing less welcome than a bull in a china shop are toddler twins in an auction house.

Kristie and Bailey were over at the house a couple of weeks ago and we started talking about how fun auctions are and before I knew it, we had plans to go to one on Saturday. The forecast was calling for rain, and there weren’t a whole lot of yard sale listings, so it seemed like a great idea. They got an early look at the offerings and were really excited about what was going to be available. That was all I had to hear! My sister-in-law, Michelle, who comes with me to yard sales sometimes, said she would come along as well. The plan was to go in one car so we could avoid any parking problems but I wondered to Michelle if we should take two — Michelle is a Super Mom who always has a ton of things to take care of on the weekends and I didn’t know if she would be up for staying at an auction all day. To my surprise, she said she had no plans for the day and one car would be fine. What makes this so hilarious is that five minutes after we got there, Michelle, who had been looking around, said, with a dawning realization in her eyes, “Where are the price tags?” When I reminded her that it was an auction, she said, “You mean they’re going to pick up every. single. item. here and auction it off, one at a time?” I can’t properly describe the horror in her eyes. She looked like a trapped animal. She stayed long enough to win two old mixing bowls and then we caught a ride with Barb (who, like Michelle, is a person constantly in motion) back to the car. It was about 11 am by this time and I briefly contemplated going home and getting some chores done…but we all know I didn’t do that, right? NOPE. I drove back to the sale and stayed there until nearly 6 pm.

IT WAS SO FUN. Bailey and Kristie really know their stuff, so I could always ask their opinion before bidding. It was a beautiful day, warm and breezy, and it was truly one of the most enjoyable days I’ve had since moving to Arkansas.

So much so that I worked up my nerve and asked Justin if I could go back the next day. Sunday is his day off, his time to spend some time without the responsibilities of either work or children, and I am just that selfish that I stole that from him in the name of AUCTION. My kind, sweet, generous husband graciously agreed.  It was another gorgeous day, and along with Kristie and Bailey, Barb came back out as well. I didn’t get nearly as many good deals the second day, and truthfully, spent more money than I should have. There was a 1960s blue vinyl arm chair and ottoman that I wanted SO BADLY. We kind of thought it would go cheap — it’s not exactly something that people would want in their living rooms, but I thought it would look so adorable in the kids’ room — but it ended up going for $95. Way out of my budget. The other disappointment was the vintage Christmas — when we left on Saturday, it was all boxed up on the back patio, and looked untouched by human hands. We were naively hoping that no one had noticed them but us (HA) because we had rifled through a few of them and found mercury glass candy canes, mercury glass bird ornaments, and a plethora of Shiny Brite ornaments. Unfortunately, the Christmas boxes sold for close to $40 a box and I hadn’t cataloged their contents well enough to determine whether that was a reasonable price. It probably was — the mercury glass candy canes along would probably have sold for more than that. But who knows how high it would have gone had I prolonged the bidding. That’s the biggest problem with auctions — suppose you bid something up to $20, which is your limit, and then drop out and the item sells for $22.50. HEY, you think to yourself, I WOULD HAVE PAID $22.50. But if you had continued bidding, it probably would have sold for way more than that. It’s all a calculated risk or, as my husband said, “It’s kind of like gambling, isn’t it?” Not kind of. EXACTLY LIKE GAMBLING.

Okay, now I’ll show you some of my favorite purchases.

I can’t stop looking at my new swordfish bookends. They were $11. More than I usually spend on something at a yard sale (most of what I got was way more than I would have paid at a yard sale…something about the fact that actual money doesn’t change hands until the very end makes it scarily tempting to overpay) but they sold on eBay for $45, and I’m keeping them for us, so I think they were worth it. I’m not a huge brass person (or bronze? the eBay auction said they were bronze but I don’t know how to tell) but the detail on these is so beautiful.

Have you ever heard of copper lusterware? I hadn’t until this auction. Bailey said it’s hard to find pieces in good shape because they’re made of terra cotta (I think that’s right) and break easily. This one has a hairline crack but I got it for $1 and plan on keeping it, so totally worth it. It’s my new obsession.

Iron parrot doorstop! I can’t remember exactly how much, maybe $10? Or under. No more, though. I was surprised it didn’t go for more.

I TOTALLY overpaid for this Milton Bradley Anagram game. $10! Ridiculous. But the green wooden tiles were so intoxicating. Of course, I have  not idea what I’m going to do with them.

Two crewel wool throws backed in velvet — $1 each. These will be a nice addition to the booth for the Christmas open house.

Cast iron…something? Skillet? I have no idea but it’s rusty and cool — $1. Cute plant stand — $1.

Four hairpin legs ready to be cleaned up and attached to something cool. These were kind of expensive — $10, I think.

Heavy brass owl paperweight. I’m keeping him as well.

And the most expensive thing I bought:

$47.50 for this arm chair for our living room. It’s backed in yellow velvet and is super comfortable. I’m working on a yellow, grey, and teal color scheme in there and this fits perfectly.

The physically biggest thing I bought was a workshop full of wood. All kinds of wood — maple, oak, cedar…and a TON of it. I didn’t take a picture because there’s no way for it to fit in one picture. So many projects will come out of that haul (if I can get my lazy butt in motion, that is)! ALL FOR ONE DOLLAR. All I had to do was haul it to the car which was, admittedly, not very fun. But worth the work.

So we stayed all day on Sunday, and then, not content with our packed cars, we tracked down a dumpster K and B had heard about outside a house going through a gut renovation. Y’all. I was devastated I didn’t have my camera. These dumpsters were MONSTER dumpsters, probably 12-14 feet high, with built in ladders that were hard to climb. Little Ms. Bailey climbed up there in her nice outfit complete with beautiful black boots and threw down a bevy of treasures, the highlight of which was a crazy quilt made out of silk scraps (Sarah, I will get a photo for you!). It boggles my mind that someone could throw something like that in a dumpster full of construction detritus. People are crazy (says the person scaling a 14-foot dumpster in the twilight).

That was my exciting auction weekend — this weekend paled in comparison. I got one or two interesting things — will take a couple of pictures tomorrow to post — but it was a pretty dismal shopping day, overall.

October 20, 2013 - 10:26 pm

Heidi@TheMerryMagpieVintage I saw a crewel bedcover that looked just like that in the November Country Living just today! When my grandma died we had a box lot auction just like you described and I would LOVE to go to one–but I just don’t know of any around here, which is a total bummer. Boxes were going for really cheap and since I helped fill them, I know that people were getting amazing deals on my grandma’s stuff. Seeing the treasures you found makes me want to find an auction! That bird doorstop is so cool.

October 20, 2013 - 11:51 pm

Shara We will have to go to a good old country auction one of these days. I love it when at the end of the auction when the big spenders have gone home and the auctioneer is getting tired. They start heaping things up in boxes and then pile the boxes on top of each other and then start the bidding. You can get boxes and boxes of things for a few dollars. Oh, there’s crap in there, but sometimes there is good stuff in there too. I’ve never seen single items sell like the ones you bought – did they do “choice” on an array of items and you chose or did they just auction off say, the brass owl? If they did each thing one at a time, I can see why it took two days to do the auction!

Now I have auction fever! Let’s GO!

October 21, 2013 - 3:03 pm

Laurie Girl!!! I love a good dumpster! I made several of my first tote bags from vintage fabrics I dug out of a dumpster that was being filled out of a house a deceased interior decorator had owned. There were so many amazing things in that dumpster! I still have the vintage aluminum patio chaise. 🙂

I love the parrot doorstop – and I’m crying over your $1.00 lumber buy. *snif*

Great stuff!!!

October 28, 2013 - 12:41 pm

Lara Jo Laurie: OMG the dumpster you described sounds amazing. People used to trash pick in Chicago all the time — the alleyways would have tons of stuff in them. I never did it when I lived there and now I am regretting it mightily (although I did find a big haul at the curb in a ritzy suburb of Chicago that was amazing). Does Fayetteville have one of those trash pick-up days when you can put anything out by the curb to be picked up by the trash truck? If so, WHEN, and let’s go dumpster diving then!

October 28, 2013 - 12:46 pm

Lara Jo Heidi: I’ll be that was really, really hard, to have an auction with your grandma’s stuff. I would have had to bid on everything myself. Have you checked auctionzip to see if there are any auctions within driving distance of you?