Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Going to Auctions . . .

A scene from a local auction.



I knew my husband for about 3 years before I started going out with him, and one of our first joint outings was to an auction, at what had been Stinsford Boys' School (right by the Church - it was one of two "Big Houses" in the parish, along with Kingston Maurward, where the Lady of the Manor took a liking to the young Thos. Hardy and encouraged him. ) Anyway, that's by the by - it was a lovely house inside and I still remember it clearly. The first thing we EVER bought - and it was from this sale - was a collection of mirrors for £12. One was the mahogany door (with mirror) off the central part of a gentleman's compactum, and it weighed a bloddy ton. It is still across one corner of our bedroom and is my dressing mirror. It has a finish like Rosewood and carving across the top and is lovely.

When we lived in Dorset, we used to go to Dickie Burden's Saturday and Monday Auctions in Sturminster Newton, to the Market auction in Sturminster N. too. Dickie Burden's was a particularly enjoyable sale as he was a quick (and sometimes cunning) auctioneer. One of my abiding memories of his sales was that there were always two or three beautifully embroidered and hand-sewn baby's Christening gowns offered for sale. They went very cheaply in those days and I do regret not buying one now. He would sell anything - even if he had to go as low as ten pence for it! I once bought a lovely solid mahogany dining chair there, for 25p (though for some reason I can only think of it as five shillings, as that still makes more sense to me!) - it was painted the brightest red you can imagine, but stripped off beautifully and when cleaned, oiled and reupholstered, it looked a different chair.

We also went to the auction in Blandford Town Hall, to Cottees in Wareham (our favourite, and they used to have a wonderful produce auction too), and also to one "out in the sticks" near Martock, where the decent stuff was in an old shabby barn and the "tat" was just out in an adjoining field.

This was part of a trayful of china (from a local Welsh auction) which only one other person bid on . . . but I went £1 higher! I love buying boxes of china too and have assorted collections displayed all over the house: jugs here, teapots there, Portmeirion on that shelf, blue and white china on this one.

Over the years pretty well ALL our furniture has been bought at auctions. Some has been competitively priced (but still far cheaper than an antique shop). Sometimes we fall in love with a piece, sometimes we feel SORRY for a piece which was obviously quality but needs a lot of restoration. We have been lucky enough to have plenty of bargains. Sometimes an item goes too high and we sigh for what might have been. We've learned some lessons too, especially in the early days, when there was a danger of paying too much for something through ignorance.

We are not averse to buying something that is damaged as my husband is very good with wood and carrying out restorations and repairs. I turn a blind eye to a nice jug with a chip or a broken handle - once it's hung on a beam, you don't notice the imperfections anyway. Sometimes my husband buys something I can't quite see a use for (still don't know what the heck it IS!) . . .


But it has still turned out quite useful . . .





Here's what I bought for a £2 bid at an auction last summer (sight unseen too!) - the porter just held up the "box of needlework bits" and I was the only bidder. . . I am still working my way through it and it has been SO useful. Aren't the Crinoline ladies gorgeous? Some of the sewing has been unpicked, so I intend to re-do the embroidery in those spots and then keep them safe.



I've used several lots of the bias binding, some of the felt and made most of the hexagons into a cushion front for one of my daughters.





4 comments:

Betty said...

Good day,
Although it's already night in Wales....

So many beautiful things you've been blessed to find at auction....I don't mind a chip or nick on china, after all I'm not perfect either....

Enjoyed my visit....Betty

MammyT said...

What fun. I do love a grab bag full of notions. And how romantic that you started your courtship with and still enjoy resale shopping. My Captain loves to browse the resale shops, yard and garage sales, etc. He too restores a lot of wooden items.
Nancy

Kelli said...

I loved hearing about your treasure hunting adventures! You have found some wonderful things over the years and I especially like the beautiful needlework pieces. It must be fun to look through the box!
Kelli

Pixiedust said...

I've never been to an auction, but always wanted to go, I love a bargain. I try to get to a car booty when I can, and do go on e-bay, but thats not so good lately. Hubby mainly uses e-bay for landrover parts. x