The ad read:
Unbelievable OLD TIMEY COUNTRY AUCTION
Sat. Nov 11th @ 10 am
20044 Efird Rd. Albemarle NC.
Selling Antiques, primitives, and collectibles at the old home place of Rosa and Lora Efird. Rosa and Lora were old maid sisters long ago deceased and nothing has been removed the home.
Note: One of the oldest home places remaining in Stanly County, dating back at least 3 generations to the early 1800’s
So that's where we were today-all day. We were sure to find some bargains, right? After all we're talking Albemarle North Carolina - a sleepy little town about 40 miles east of Charlotte and 100 miles west of Raleigh and not a freeway in sight. Oh, and most recent claim to fame Albemarle is the hometown of American Idol contestant Kellie Pickler. Um, yeah. So how much competition could there be, right?
Okay, well the good news is that it was a beautiful day. Clear skies & temperatures in the seventies made for a nice drive and it's always nice to get out of the house. But, apparently that's what everyone else in the Piedmont area was thinking. The auction was packed. I'm mean I am pretty sure that the entire town of Albemarle was there. And they came with bucket loads of money, too- and prepared to bid up and buy up anything and everything that wasn't nailed down. I've been to plenty of auctions and I am familiar with the frenzy of bidding but I have never seen any auctioneer get the kind of bids/money for just, well, crap. Yeah, I know, I know- one man's trash is another man's treasure and all that. But sometimes trash is trash.
Oh, don't get me wrong. There was some cool old stuff there. And, I am by no means an expert on all things collectable. I make no claim to be. But I have been in the business for quite a long time and I've been to countless auctions, flea markets, estate sales and garage sales in my day. I try to stick to what I know and/or what I like but I can spot a bargain most of the time. That's not to say that I haven't, on occasion, been totally blown away by something that was worth way more than I thought it was. And that's what I was thinking as I was sitting under a beautiful Carolina blue sky today watching old slave documents bringing bids of $500 plus. Who knows-maybe they're worth it. Maybe they're worth more.
But then as the auction continued I started to notice that there were things that I did know the value of that were going for way more than they were worth. For instance there was a little toy typewriter that went for over $50. A typewriter that I've seen two of in the last month at flea markets in the $10-20 range. A lot of 6 or 7 old ratty homemade dresses went for $65 and a lot of a dozen wrinkled up moldy hats went for about $50. So now I'm thinking these people are smoking something other than tabacci in their pipes. Okay, sit back and relax. We're here for the ambiance at this point. I've got my eye on a couple of things but I'm not holding out much hope that I'll be bringing home a bargain.
My usual game plan at an auction goes something like this: I scope out the things I want to bid on and make notes. First thing I look for is, of course, vintage clothing and anything fashion related like purses, hats, gloves, magazines, catalogs- you get the idea. Most of that's for resale. Then anything that catches my eye that I might like. Things I collect like squirrels, lamps, retro stuff and anything else I might want to just have for myself. Then I usually get a hotdog, find a chair and watch the bidding for a bit. I try to get an idea as to what kind of bidders we've got and who the dealers are. It doesn't take long to figure out, for example, if there are toy collectors or dealers present. If there are a couple of them at least I know I won't be bidding on toys. Toys aren't my thing. I don't know toys and I won't get a bargain on toys when dealers are bidding. Same goes for pottery or glassware or anything else. If I am not sure of the value I will not bid against dealers or collectors. Now I will hold my own in the categories I do know or if there is something I just want for myself. And if there are no toy dealers there, for instance, I may take a chance on some toys.
At this auction everybody was bidding on everything. And bidding high. There was scant little there that I wanted so that was good, I guess. By around 3 o'clock I hadn't bid on anything but I had my eye on a boxful of old catalogs from the 40's, 50's and 60's, a pretty good size lot of old hosiery still in the original boxes and some squirrel things. I confess, by this point I was determined not to leave empty handed and when the box of catalogs finally hit the block I bid more than I had intended. But I won them. Take that! And who was this old guy bidding against me anyway. Where the hell did he come from. Grrrrr. I am now the proud owner of this box of old catalogs and I have no idea how I am going to get them to the van. The box must weigh 80 pounds! I'm on a roll now so when the hosiery came up there was no stopping me-yeah I won those, too. And at a bargain price I must say. I bid on a couple of other things and ended up with a squirrel glass and a squirrel planter so, all in all, it ended up being a nice day. I was happy.
Back at home I sat down at the computer and looked up a few things on eBay. I couldn't find a single slave document that had sold for more than a couple of hundred dollars. Interesting. But I did see that the Sears 1962 Christmas Catalog I just brought home recently sold on eBay for $251.00! I guess I did get a bargain after all.