Going, going…gone

Auctions.

When most people hear the word auction. They think of a house auction. A home up for sale, or possibly a land auction. That’s not what I think of though.

As a kid the word filled me with fear. Auction combined with weekend, and it was a double whammy. I knew my precious not- schooled days would be taken up by spending at the dreaded auction. You see my mum had a thing for auctions. You know the kind? Antiques, wood furniture, cobwebs, retro finds, vintage fabrics, household items. As a pre-teen this meant hours and hours of reading in the car. The occasional sandwich would be thrown my way, and if I was lucky a can of lemonade. Other than that, the day was mine to read…and read…and read. Until the auction had finished and it was time to load up the car with our new found treasures.

As an adult, the word auction has a new meaning. At first there is that initial body rattle of fear (you can’t fight history right?), and then my ears prick up, my eyebrows raise, followed by a slight eye narrowing…what have they got? The possibility of so many wonderful finds is sometimes just too tempting to pass up. Household auctions are the best, when the whole house contents are up for sale. Quite often they are going for a song and you just have to be there, with a quick raise of the hand, showing your number, and it’s yours. This is how a lot of antique dealers get their stock. This is how second hand stores get their goodies. This is how bargains are to be had. If you want a bargain step away from the chain store and reach for your local paper instead. This is where you will find out when the next auction is on.

With my mum having a keen eye for a bargain at an auction, I have definitely benefited from it. Along with my siblings, retro, vintage, antique, you name it has passed through our hands. While this might not be that exciting for a lot of people it got me thinking recently. I was sifting through some of my mums things and just felt nothing but sadness. Before me was such a vast amount of things that were probably one offs now, perfect condition, not wanted by the original owners, not needed by my mum any more, and destined to go to an op-shop (thrift, charity store) IF they were lucky. There was only so much I could take on in a two bedroom flat. Vintage lace, balls of 1970’s icelandic wool, retro 70’s (new in packet) sheet sets, 1960’s table cloths and napkin sets…and bundles and bundles of finished and unfinished embroidery. Pieces that someone had put hours and hours in to…how could I not turn that in to something?

The top picture is off a truly gorgeous embroidery that someone has painstakingly done and not finished. Now made into a cushion, and sitting proudly on my arm chair with 3 other cushions made from retro auction material.

As our consumerist lifestyle seems to get faster and faster, are all these items things of the past? In time to come people won’t be looking back fondly at their Ikea bookshelves and think ..,wow, look at the workmanship on that. Now don’t get me wrong, I do think there is a time and a place for Ikea and other such stores, but as far as long term quality pieces…it’s just not there. So eventually will all quality furniture, clothing (anything at all really) be replaced with cheaply produced items. Things that have been made with minimum effort and maximum profit? So many things in todays society seem to have such a short shelf life, very little seems to be designed for the long term in mind. With media encouraging people to upgrade regularly, it’s a way of living that so many people seem to easily fit in.

The whole idea just makes me sigh…a big one.

So next time you think hmmm I think we could use a new sideboard, toy box, samurai sword or shell lamp (yes, I have one) check out your local paper first and see what’s happening in the auction section you might just come out with a one off bargain.

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