For years now, I’ve been reading the auction reports in Miniature Collector magazine, and wishing I could have a chance at some of the wonderful finds. Most pieces are well of out my price range, so for a long time, I didn’t worry about it.
Then I started noticing that there were a few things being auctioned I could afford, but of course, I was reading about them months after the auction took place.
So I looked up the auction houses in Min Collector and found that one of them was having a big dollhouse miniatures auction at the end of October. It was a long way from where I lived, but I could bid online. I registered for an account, signed up, and went through and put together a “shopping list.”
I decided, since it was my first auction, to take it slow. I went through the vast number of pieces being auctioned (several collections were being sold at once), and narrowed it down to the three or four I really, really wanted. Then I added a few others that I could take or leave, depending on how much money I’d spent.
I set myself a budget and a limit. If a piece went over a certain amount, I’d drop out. I told myself I wouldn’t spend more than a certain amount overall, including the buyer’s premium, which was I think 17% of the final prices.
The day of the auction dawned. I got up very early, because the auctioneer’s place was three hours ahead of me, showered, and ate my breakfast in front of the computer.
Exciting when the bidding finally started. The first thing I wanted wasn’t right away, so I watched the lots be auctioned.
They don’t take it slowly. They had about 400 or so lots to do, and once the hammer came down, zip, on to the next one.
I was bidding online, and there were people at the auction house too (“on the floor”). Floor bidders got the bid if there was a tie. It became mesmerizing to watch the bids stack up on the computer, and the prices climb (scary too).
When one of my lots finally came up, I was shaky, my hand sweating on the mouse. You have to click fast, because the bids come thick, and your click needs to register.
The first lot I wanted was a set of beautiful marquetry tables. I had put in a “pre-bid” of the minimum bid, but in retrospect, I don’t think that was necessary. I could have done a higher pre-bid–I saw lots that had, for example, an expected starting bid of $100, and it jumped to $500 instantly, meaning someone had probably entered a pre-bid of $500.
One of the marquetry tables. This is how it will be displayed in one of the rooms in the Big House. (Click picture for detail.)
Anyway during my first lot, I was clicking, my heart pounding, the bids rising toward my limit, and . . . I won! (Ok, I’d just won the obligation to pay someone money, but oh well). But I got the pieces for well under what I’d told myself I wouldn’t go past.
I waited patiently for my next lot. I could have walked away and done other things, but watching that auction sucked me in. Plus, I was terrified I would miss the things I wanted.
The next lot I bid on was this lovely painted harp. Click on the image to see details in the larger pic. The neat thing is, if you brush the strings lightly with your finger, it makes music! Very faint, but it’s there.
Anyway, this was too much fun. I did win the three lots I seriously wanted (see the marquetry table again for the Jim Pounder lamp that was part of the third lot).
Then, of course, there were the extra lots I could leave or take. On a couple of them, the bidding was so low that I went ahead and snagged them.
I also did one impulse bid. This piece didn’t attract much attention, but it reached out and told me I wanted to give it a good home.
This little Christmas toy shop is a shallow vignette that can be hung on a wall. It’s about three inches deep and has a set of shelves inside. The Christmas ornaments, including some charming gingerbread houses, came with it.
I won this bid fairly easily. When it arrived at my house, it saw that it was sticky with wax adhesive, a bit dirty, and the front window was falling out–probably why the floor bidders didn’t bid for it very hard.
However, I love a good fixer upper!
Out came my sandpaper, paper towels, and elbow grease. I emptied the shop, putting the toys away (some into a Christmas scene I already have; others into a box). I took out the front window, washed it, and glued it back into place.
All cleaned up, this is quite a nice little room box. Instead of putting the Christmas things back in, I’m toying with the idea of making this perhaps a bakery, or a flower shop, or a shoe shop, or a junk shop (I can put some of the Xmas things back in that way; same with the bakery.)
My shopping craze also snagged me a few pieces of Bespaq unfinished furniture, which I love, a set of lighted corner shelves (mini), and a couple other things.
All right, so I did go over my budget. But not by a lot, so I don’t feel too guilty.
The day after the auction was over, the hurricane hit, and the northeast shut down for a bit. That meant that it took almost three weeks for my pieces to arrive at my house, but they were worth the wait. (And the wait was understandable–more important to get people food, water, and electricity than my minis to me.)
I doubt I will do every dollhouse auction out there (some are still far, far too expensive for me), but this was fun, I love what I bought, and I’ll look for more, as my budget permits.