Having moved back to the country, it was only fitting that I attend my first farm auction. Sure, I’d heard of the great deals you could get at an auction, but the whole idea of someone yelling out prices while I waved my numbered tag was a bit intimidating.
So when the opportunity presented itself last Saturday to attend an auction of my Grandmother’s neighbor I couldn’t pass up the chance. You see, the genealogist in me had to see if some of my ancestors had left things for me to find. The deal finder in me was so curious I just couldn’t not go. And the best reason….my father, an amazing auction attender, was going to help me.
I went. I saw. I conquered some fabulous deals!
The first thing to know about auctions is that they’re everywhere. Yes, even in Virginia Beach. I looked it up.
That brings me to my second point. You’ve got to check out this website. I don’t want to waste my time reading through the multitude of auctions somewhere in the newspaper or Internet. I want to pick a date and pick the best auction to attend. This website allows that. There’s pictures!! Just plug in your zip and how far you want to travel and bingo you’re there with complete lists and pictures of items waiting for you to snatch up!
So here’s a few things I learned from my Saturday auction experience.
- If the auction starts at 9:00 am, you need to arrive at 8:00 am. You need to find parking but mostly because of #3.
- Once you arrive at your auction you’ll need to find the cashier table. You have to sign up to receive a number. You can’t bid without it, so don’t forget this step. Keep your number with you as if it’s worth the millions you’re trying to find among the lost treasures. If you lose it, someone could bid with your number and guess what, you’re responsible to pay for it.
- You’ve got your number. Go check out the goods. Once the bidding starts, everyone crowds around the items so you want to make sure you’ve decided on what items you want to bid on.
- You are now ready to put your game face on. I’m serious. Be ready to stand your ground. But don’t forget to know your limit. Let me repeat…know your limit. You don’t want to get caught up in the excitement and overbid what the item is worth.
- The bidding. Here’s a little something I wish I would have figured out BEFORE I lost my bid on a small German Bible from 1861. When there’s a number of small items like books, dishes or pictures, the auctioneer will first give the opportunity for someone to bid on them individually. Here’s where you raise your number if you want to pick one (1) and not take the entire lot. I waited too long and suddenly the bidding was on 10 German Bibles and the prices went way to high for my blood. Oh the agony. It was hard to let that one go. So learn from me, be on your toes and be ready to bid if you really want an item.
- Have fun. Know you limit and be ready to snag some deals.
So what did I buy? Complete genealogy dork stuff. But I love it!
- I bought a Baptism certificate from 1894 for $3. I don’t know the person on it. It’s was a relative of the family holding the auction. I was so upset they would sell something of their ancestor’s, that I decided I would buy it, hold onto it and give it to the next generation.
- I bought a McGuffey Reader from 1901. This brought me back to my college days of attending class at Miami in McGuffey hall. Had to have it for $25. I think I overbid on this one, but it was worth it.
- I bought a box of books from the late 1800’s for $5. They look cool.
- I bought a box of hymnals and song books from the late 1800’s for $5. I just liked them and it turns out one of them was from the church my parent’s were married in.
- My FAVORITE buy by far was a ledger from 1913 for $10. It had the threshing bills for area farmers including my great-great grandfather. It is a treasure I will hold onto forever.
I didn’t come away with any practical items like furniture, although I saw some great deals go by. We just don’t have the room right now.
So, this is a long post but I hope you get inspired to attend an auction wherever you are. It’s free fun….unless you buy something of course.
I’m addicted to coupons, garage sales and now…an auction!