Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Can You Find the Treasure in the Trash?

Old wooden barn full of junk and rusting tractor      In an earlier post titled Bring Your Thick Skin, I wrote about newbies at auction, more specifically, myself.  Like all new-comers to auctions, I didn't have a clue as to what to expect.  I thought there were two kinds of auctions - high-end like Sothebys and the rest.  Both, I thought, would prove equally challenging and aggressive.  Little did I know.
      I really thought I would have to fight for literally every scrap.  I figured the business was all trash-to-treasure seekers and all dealers had a creative vein and a dedication to spending time on each piece.  Truth is, most dealers buy ready to put on the sales floor with little to no handling so they tend towards the 'creme'.  Only very few buy the truly crappy primitive pieces with the intent on putting any work into them.
      So, there I was, at the end of one of my first auctions, coveting what lay before me on the ground.  I was salivating.  It was an entire row of hardware from this farmer's workshop.  I know your picturing crystal handles, ornate face plates, marble finials, brass pulls, porcelain casters, elaborate wood fillets, boxes of hinges and door knobs but it was better that!  OK, there was some of that scattered underneath it all but what I saw was infinite possibilities.  I had before me washers, nuts, bolts and screws of every variety, nails of all sorts, drill bits, piles of sandpaper, corner braces, upholstery tacks, various hooks and catches and all I could think was that I couldn't wait to get all 243 pounds back to my indoor junk yard and start sorting (I exaggerate the weight only slightly).
      When the auctioneer finally ambled over to my line I had to remind myself to breath and keep it together.  Don't jump at the first number.
      At first he started with choice.  The bid was high.  $10.  Too rich for my blood.  I couldn't fathome giving up one box but there must have been 20.  Maybe I could pick up the leftovers for cheap.  Slowly, the numbers dropped.  Finally, $1.  No one was bidding.  Was there something wrong with everyone?  Were they hearing this and if so, what was the catch?  Was I in a time warp and the auctioneer was only talking to me?
     "OK, all together one money."
      I couldn't believe my luck!  Or did that mean someone else was holding out like me and wanted the whole lot, too?  Looking around, I couldn't tell which of those duffers was playing coy.  There were at least a dozen I had to assess without giving up my position.
      The auctioneer started at $10 again.  It was excruciating.  It was all I could do to keep from dancing a jig.  It was still anyone's game, though.
      Finally, $1.  My hand shot up so fast my shoulder separated a little.  OK, this is where the opposition would show him or herself.  My eyes were defiantly screaming, "Bring it!"
      "Going once."
      This was the moment of truth.
      "Going twice."
      Which one of you was going to crush my dreams?
      I was the proud owner of my very own hardware store.
      I realized later no one was interested.  In fact, there was snickering from the peanut gallery as I was loading it all up - one box at a time.  Something about 'new' and 'hardware store down the road.'
      So, I say bring your thick skin and let them laugh.  The last laugh will be yours!  They will never see the cool second life this neglected pile of junk received.  http://www.rustybucketantiques.com/
© Photographer: Grahamtaylor | Agency: Dreamstime.com

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