Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January starts the new auction season!

My husband and I have been visiting auction previews for over 20 years, We enjoy them for themselves, and have decorated much of our home with auction finds. We love all matter of furniture and art, starting with antiques and moving to contemporary. We are not slaves to any style or building 'collections'. More than anything we have fun going to auction previews, sometimes bidding, and usually making a day of it. When there's nothing else to do, find an auction!

Auction houses abound and we tend toward the more affordable options, but visiting Sotheby's and Christie's is fun too! The more you go, the more you learn about prices for the objects that you like. So when you decide it's time to bid on something, you will feel more confident that it's the right number. In our experience it's always cheaper to buy at auction than retail.

We live in New York, and the excitement of the new season has begun. Every weekend there will be numerous auction previews to choose from, and the quality of the offerings will build around the Winter Antiques Fair at the Park Avenue Armory.

Just a word on strategy. We sometimes (rarely) go to the auctions themselves. We can't stand the anxiety of live bidding and losing. We always do absentee bidding, and in this way can set our top limit and never pay more than we think it's worth to us. Most auction houses we've been to will take the highest bid and add yours to it in whatever the auction increments for bidding are for that item. Thus if we bid $450 for something but it goes for $325, then that's the amount we get it for (plus the buyer's premium). You can also bid by phone (which I've done once and won!), and by internet (which I haven't tried yet).

My plan is to share auction sites, ideas for decorating with auction finds and generally how to have fun with the hunt. There will be more on strategy too. I’d like to hear from you as well!

Here are some auction house links to get started. There is a lot on them on how to bid as well. 

Doyle's in NY: 
We go here all the time. It's generally affordable and easy to place a bid. 

New Orleans Auction:
We bought an antique desk from here remotely. I got a condition report, and placed a bid on the phone. 

Lots Road Auctions in London: 
We used to live in London and went here all the time. Great pub for lunch across the street too! They are very affordable, but you would need to figure in shipping costs. They have shipper referrals right there. 

Stair Galleries in Hudson, NY:
Great prices, and a fun day out from New York via Amtrak. The main street in Hudson, Warren Street is full of antique and decorative arts shops, and galleries.

We went to Bonhams regularly when in London. They also have an auction house in New York as well. We've bought both 'high' and 'low' antiques here, and enjoy them all! 


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