A Day at the Auctions – well, Online

An unexpected bargain - an old iron kerosine stand makes a wonderful stand for a candle in the Cloisters.

An unexpected bargain – an old iron kerosine lamp stand makes a wonderful stand for a candle in the Cloisters.

Over the weekend, one of the major quality auction houses, Vickers and Hoad, held a massive auction of the contents from an historic old homestead in Maitland in the Hunter Valley.

It was obviously sad for the family to see their old home go as well as all the contents and I believe the family had been there for many generations. This also meant that quality old items would be on sale with the downside being that the sale would attract heaps of buyers (which also usually means inflated prices).

A rather splendid bird's eye maple frame for a large engraving of Mary of Scotland Mourning, complete with a priest and Bishop.

A rather splendid bird’s eye maple frame for a large engraving of Mary of Scotland Mourning, complete with a priest and Bishop now at home in the dining room.

The auction houses are well organised for online bidders, with the catalogues going online a few days before, complete with photos, descriptions and usually a price guide. Since being in the country, I’ve been using absentee bid forms and often felt I’ve just missed out on many items, so am now venturing into the world of live online bidding, which is a great system, watching the auction live and having screen facilities tracking the bids and letting you enter your own bid and confirming if it’s the highest. But it also can be dangerous if you don’t hold to a strong discipline.

A sweet little antique oak hall table.

A sweet little antique oak hall table.

Armed with my list of “interesting” lots, I spent a long day (yes, it takes up a lot of the day if you sit through the whole auction) for a slow paced auction (only slow because of the number of bidders – in the room, absentee and online). It was a bumper day in terms of high sales for the owners and auctioneers, but also a rewarding one for me as I managed to gain some gems.

A very rustic French provincial antique walnut side table.

A very rustic French provincial antique walnut side table.

I limited myself to smaller items that would fit in the car as courier costs are prohibitive. That being said, I missed out on many but ended up with a successful day. One of the aspects of antique auctions I enjoy is learning more. I’m not too bad on styles, periods, some of the manufacturers but there are always more levels of detail. This auction I learnt about bird’s eye maple, that provides a rather splendid frame surrounding a large engraving now hanging in the dining room. I also discovered reverse glass painting which happens to be the style used in a small painting featuring nuns.

Other purchases included:

  • an small antique oak hall table
  • a small rustic French provincial walnut side table
  • a very rustic painted timber bird cage
  • two gorgeous old copper pots for outside
  • a character-filled iron kerosine lamp stand which looks right at home on the back verandah
A small brass spark screen for the fireplace under restoration.

A small brass spark screen for the fireplace under restoration.

All in all, a great day which meant a very long day following as I made my way to Maitland and back to collect my items. The exercise was badly marred by my first kangaroo kill. So far I must have avoided 20 or 30 roos on the road and prided myself of taking care. Unfortunately I was not so lucky this time and didn’t have a chance to miss the poor kangaroo. No damage to the car, but lots of tears and guilt which took some of the shine off the auction results.

One of two splendid copper pots.

One of two splendid copper pots.

A very rustic old painted bird cage which has taken up residence in the garden.

A very rustic old painted bird cage which has taken up residence in the garden.

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