Buying something from an auction is as much a rescue mission as a shopping expedition, I tell my best beloved.
And here is a tale of one great rescue mission:
I went to a country auction looking for a chair to re-upholster and I was in bullish mood – a button backed one, I thought.
(To non-upholsters, I need to mention, button-backing is a more than usually fiddly business in an already time-consuming business, so you need to gird a few loins if you are going to do one.)
I found this one.
(It is Victorian and won’t have the gold draylon on it when I have finished with it.)
This auction requires you to go and have a good look around on the Friday and give up a lot of your Saturday to be there for the bidding.
Of course, you see several chairs and have to juggle your bidding.
Lot 100 at 11.30 maybe be a goer as far as you are concerned but lot 320 at 1.30 is a much better bet – but can you chance missing the first lot and then be outbid on the second…. you see what I mean.
Anyway, I wandered around, looking for the chair that I wanted, pulling and pushing to see which chairs were strong, and so on.
I saw other stuff which was lovely and should I have won the lottery and moved to a much bigger house, I would have bid on.
‘Brown’ furniture may be making a come-back in London but here in the depths of the countryside you can get it for a song – and for some of those pieces, I would have sung.
There was this lovely arts and crafts/art nouveau dresser.
Hand-made, of course, in oak with brass fittings and carving decorations and, and, and.
I had seen it and admired the side-racking, the proportions and, and – and thought it would make at the auction, say, £700 given that this is not retail, so you get things cheaper.
So, I identified my chair(s) and went back the next day and waited, and waited.
My first choice of chair – dear reader, I have a better eye than wallet – went for far more than I could afford, so I was hanging around for the next lot.
Whilst viewing I had seen a croupier’s rake.
Smooth, light, old – no doubt with a lot of stories to tell and very tactile.
The lot came up and no one bid.
I looked at it, reached over to where it was lying and touched it.
‘Come on madam. There’s a whole new career beckoning you,’ said the auctioneer.
So I bid, and got it for £5.
And then, when I was waiting for my chair lot, the dresser came up.
‘Ahh,’ I thought, ‘ I always have a better eye then wallet.’
But, dear reader, no one bid at all.
I got it for £50.
Of course, there was the commission, and to pay for it to be delivered – and persuade my best beloved, who I have to say, was easy to persuade, that we should swap our old pine dresser for this one.
But all in all it cost me just over £120.
Old (and indeed not so old) pine is still in fashion and so we sold our previous dresser online and we have made a considerable profit.
And we love our rescued dresser.