Think auc­tions are in­tim­i­dat­ing? We have the in­sider secrets to put you at ease.

Flea Market Décor - - Contents - By Kris Christensen

These in­sider secrets will make you feel right at home when you go to an auc­tion.

IF THE IDEA OF AT­TEND­ING AN AUC­TION im­me­di­ately brings to mind vi­sions of in­tense bid­ding wars over Van Gogh’s paint­ings and Ming dy­nasty porce­lain, think again. While events at Christie’s or Sotheby’s make head­lines with record-break­ing sales, your lo­cal auc­tion house is a far more ca­sual and ap­proach­able en­vi­ron­ment.

It’s also one of the best-kept se­cret sources for bar­gain vin­tage fur­nish­ings and ac­ces­sories. Much like es­tate sales, auc­tions can be clear­ing cen­ters for a life­time of ac­cu­mu­lated goods.

In the first of this two-part se­ries on auc­tions, we spoke to pro­fes­sional auc­tion­eer Neil Web­ster (CAI and CES) to get the in­sider’s scoop on ev­ery­thing you need to know about auc­tions and why they de­serve to be in your reg­u­lar lineup for trea­sure hunt­ing.


You know that an­tiques store where you fell in love with the cute dis­plays and per­fectly im­per­fect fur­nish­ings? We’ll let you in on a lit­tle se­cret… These items are prob­a­bly sourced at auc­tion! With ham­mer prices of­ten far be­low mar­ket value, vin­tage ven­dors and an­tiques deal­ers fre­quently pur­chase at auc­tion for re­sale in their shops, booths or on­line.

Home dec­o­ra­tors and col­lec­tors who are will­ing to in­vest their time in the process can also take ad­van­tage of these deals and snap up one-of-a-kind items be­fore they make it to a bou­tique or an an­tiques mall. Un­like at those bou­tiques and malls, how­ever, your choices are not go­ing to be attractively cu­rated be­fore you en­ter.

In­stead, you have the full va­ri­ety dis­played and avail­able for pick­ing and choos­ing, ac­cord­ing to your taste. “There is al­ways the ex­cite­ment of dis­cov­er­ing new things,” Neil says. “I’ve been work­ing auc­tions for 20 years, and I see some­thing new ev­ery week. Buy di­rectly from the auc­tion and you get to look at ev­ery­thing that’s avail­able, not just what a par­tic­u­lar dealer de­cided to bring.”

Here’s ev­ery­thing you can ex­pect to ex­pe­ri­ence and some ad­di­tional tips to help you suc­ceed.

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