Auction-Going Of Auctions and Auctioneers

With the popularity of online auctions such as eBay, many people are familiar with the process of bidding and trying to win a sought-after item. That rush of excitement when you learn you’re the highest bidder is fun. Well, if you think bidding online is fun, maybe you’ll want to give a live auction a try.

On Cape Cod there are three main auction houses: Robert C. Eldred Co. Inc. of Dennis, Sandwich Auction House of Sandwich, and Auctions of Cape Cod and the Islands in Hyannis.


All of these auction houses maintain web sites, and their proprietors suggest you go to them to check out the offerings at upcoming auctions. All of the auctioneers stressed the importance of going to the previews as well to learn as much as you can about a coveted item.


Eldred’s is located on Route 6A in Dennis and offers monthly auctions during the fall and winter months. In November they will be having an Americana auction chock full of items, from furniture to pewter, toys, trains, and much, much more. In December there will be an auction of Asian art, an area of specialty for Eldred’s. They have textiles, pottery, oriental rugs, and jade, just to name a small amount of what will be on the auction block.


John Schofield of Eldred’s suggests doing your homework before you go.


“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” he says. “No one knows everything, so ask. It’s really important to do your homework, so when you go to the auction you have an idea as to what items are worth.”


Sandwich Auction House offers auctions three to four times a month, and they offer a little of everything.


Auctioneer Duncan Gray emphasizes that prospective auctiongoers should not be intimidated by bidding against dealers.


“Dealers know exactly what they want to spend and generally won’t go over that, so if there’s something you really want, it’s possible you could get it.”


According to the experts, the crowd of bidders is usually pretty evenly divided between dealers and individual buyers, so don’t fret that you’ll be the only non-dealer holding a paddle.


Auctions of Cape Cod and the Islands holds monthly auctions in Bourne, according to auctioneer Ed Tessier, so that they are convenient to people both on- and off-Cape. They auction off everything from whaling items, scrimshaw and oil paintings to anything else they deem worthy.


Tessier is very excited about the fact that his firm offers live online auctioning (unlike other auction houses where you can bid online, but it’s not necessarily live). Because of this, they have opened up their auction business to bidders from as far away as China, Holland and Germany.


All of the auctions are free to attend, but you might have to pay for a catalog. Thankfully, all of these houses have extensive web sites that are updated often so you can get a good idea, from the comfort of your own home, if there are items that you’d like to check out more carefully.


Eldred’s John Schofield adds that Google is a great resource for potential bidders to learn as much as they can about various antiquities. Knowledge is power, so do that research!


There will be some bargains to be had, but a lot of the fun of auction-going is the thrill of the hunt and the excitement of the bidding. You might be the lucky one to come away with a steal, or you might be a high bidder on an item similar to the $44,000 painting by A.T. Bricher, sold by Sandwich Auction House, or a major over-the-top sale of $450,000 for a painting by Charles Wilson Peale.


And – as one last auction treat – if you are a fan of the late artist/writer Edward Gorey, the Fourth Annual Alphabet Auction will be held on October 1 at the Yarmouthport Community Center. They won’t be selling original art, but you might be able to pick up a special item from Gorey’s own collection of pictures and odd knick-knacks. Check the web site in September for details about preview hours.