Those Were The Days: “What Am I Bid””

word auction with gavel

Going once, …twice, .. sold to number ninety two.

Instinctively, most of the bargain hopefuls in the audience strained their necks to see who “won” the dainty floral vase for the paltry sum of eight dollars. The scene of course is an auction, one of the many sales held each week throughout our area. From tables to tools, cattle to cars and everything in between, if it is for sale then to be sure somewhere an auctioneer is poised to say “what am I bid?”  Forget that old myth about scratching your nose or blinking an eye and oops, you have inadvertently bought an ugly yellow feathered lamp shade. Auctioneers are professionals who have learned and honed their trade through years of hard work and training. An auctioneer has the expertise to know the crowd, understand the true value of an item and can readily recognize an interested bidder.

“Who will give me five dollars for this floor polisher?” Although the circle of potential bidders hung on every word and followed the auctioneer as if he were the Pied Piper, no one ventured a bid. “Okay, I will throw in a vacuum cleaner, now, who will give me a dollar?” The gathering shuffled their feet but remained silent. A challenging grin crossed the auctioneer’s face and the game was on. “All right, I will add a brand new toilet seat still in the box, who will give me a buck for the lot?”  

A sheepish “one dollar” came from the floor then two, five and finally after much playful banter, “sold for twelve dollars.”

When moving to this area we were in need of a china cabinet and being familiar with auctions decided one weekend to attend a few. There it was the minute we entered a large indoor auction, a china cabinet exactly the width, height and design we had been seeking. The crowd was boistrous but the bidding wasn’t very high; we were very optimistic. Whispering to each other, we decided seventy five dollars  would be our highest offer and no more. Bidding began and I stayed quiet until it reached twenty-five and I bid thirty. A heavy set man bid thirty five so I upped it to forty, he readily offered forty five. I recognized him as one of the furniture movers doing a bit of shilling for the auctionhouse so I called his bluff and shook my head indicating no more. It must have worked because when the auctioneer gave his final going, going …., I bid fifty, the man stayed silent and we had bought ourselves a china cabinet. When we visited Germany every household had oversized, European style, beautifully unique china cabinets. My wife wanted one. A few years ago a local dealer had such an item, sale price $950.00. I offered our $50. china cabinet in trade plus $500.00. We made the deal. 

Auctions?  Been there, done that and loved every minute.   

Russ Sanders, epigram@nexicom.net

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