Monday, March 3, 2014


A virgin amongst us
A Sunday ago, we met our friend
"B" at an auction house. A virgin,
this was her first day at the paddle.
Prior to her arrival, she had no idea
that by three o'clock, her world as
she knew it would change forever.
Discovering a treasure and paying
nothing for it is addictive. Beating
fellow junkies out of said prize is
often even better. By the auction's
end, "B" was completely hooked
and ready to start all over again!
Once bitten by bidding... SOLD!
Who forgets their first?
I remember the first auction I ever
went to. That summer in rural New
Hampshire we came upon a country
auction. Sitting out there amidst a
field of dreams sat a 19th century
washstand filled with a complete
set of Chinese Export Cantonese
ware ready for the picking. I was
but ten years old yet somehow
knew that the bevy that sat before
me was very special. Sadly I was
unable to bid! All these years later,
I dream of the one that got away!
Curiosity shops
After moving to Chicagoland, I quickly
discovered several great auction houses.
Miss Leslie Hindman ran the most posh
establishment in town. This was prior to
Sotheby's or any of the other venerable
names venturing west to the windy city.
Therefore Leslie held sway over any sale
of high society flotsam and jetsam. She
knew all of the best people and those who
desired their cast offs. One afternoon our
friend "J" bid on a rather odd item. The
lady auctioneer called from the podium,
"If it's odd, you seem to always bid on it!"
Birds of a feather
Over the years I've attended my share of
auctions. Volume aside, several continue
to stand out. "Simpatico", they were the
few where almost everything matched my
fancy. For whatever reason, the deceased
had a taste level that exactly suited mine.
Therefore every item held a unique allure.
I wanted everything and even now I still
regret not bidding on many things at all
of those afternoon auctions in Illinois.
I dream cream leather neoclassical love
seats... or Venetian painted demi lunes...
Treasures lost but still remembered.
In my cups
The one that I recall the most was the
dispersal of a kindred spirit's estate.
This lady shopped the world famous
china department at Marshall Fields
EVERY DAY for many, many years.
The result of this passion now filled
a warehouse covering table after table.
Fully laid out was a massive array of
porcelain treasures. As I wandered
amongst the piles of plates and box
lots, I was filled with awe. Who knew
that twenty years later, I would amass
my own substantial mound of crockery.
From trash to treasure
One could consider it rather sad sifting
through the debris of somebody else's
existence. On the other hand, I find it
nothing more thrilling. At some point
all of these forlorn objects were more
than beloved. Then for whatever reason
they later became castoff orphans. All
they're looking for is someone to love
them once more. This rediscovery is
what I enjoy about auctions. Bringing
life back to something forgotten can
be inspiring but don't think I'm easy.