We’ve all heard the cry, “give me $100, $100, $100, okay, give me $75, now $80, $85, give me $85, now $90, $90” until the highest bidder wins the bid and you hear “going once, going twice, sold to buyer #131 for $85.” The auctioneer always sings the praises of the item being auctioned, always a positive spin. It’s always interesting to attend a sale where the auctioneer has no idea what he is selling, especially if it is a specialized item. They have great imaginations but are always willing to sway with the expertise of their buying audience.

 

It’s an age old tradition of the passing on of possessions unwanted or needed by the heirs or owners. Auctions sell to the highest bidder whether it is land, homes, machinery, furniture, appliances, building sites, or just plain stuff. Most of us have attended an auction here or there or actually held one or participated in one, one way or another.

 

Auctions have a long tradition and were recorded as early as 500 B.C. The Romans also held auctions mostly to liquidate the possessions of someone who owed more money than they could pay. So it is a time-honored tradition, even though the methods and reasoning have changed over time.


One of my family’s first participation in an auction was during the Great Depression, when farmland was often offered on the courthouse steps due to foreclosure on the landowner. My parents purchased their first farm in this way in Fulton County near Delta. The farm was purchased during a Sheriff’s auction on the courthouse steps at Wauseon at a cost of $69 per acre for the 93-acre farm.

 

My grandparents held an auction when they left farming in 1945 selling livestock and machinery when they moved to Spencerville. One Holstein milk cow named Blackie sold for $107.50, while Bessie, a Guernsey cow sold for $88.50. A Red Sow sold for $100.

 

Pick up any newspaper and you can find ads advertising upcoming auctions of household goods, land or houses. More our handled during the better months of spring or summer. Although I attended an auction near Kenton a couple of Saturdays ago when they had a Winter Weather Advisory out for the area. Buyers, auctioneers and sellers all braved the weather of sleet, snow and wind. As in all “winter sports” if you dress for it you can get by.

 

If you are an auction buff, you know that you can get some really great buys at auctions, from dishware to furniture to appliances. If you are just starting out owning a home it’s a good way to purchase those needed items. If you are an antique buff, it’s a great way to find some wonderful, old antiques. Buyer beware, however, for you may purchase something that does not work or has major issues. It’s an “as is” market.

 

You also should know what price you want to give for an item and stick with it and know its true value; don’t overbid an item over its value in the spirit of competition. If you do you will lose out. I have watched many bidders pay more for a used item than one they could buy new. Sometimes that need to outbid someone can become an albatross around the neck!

 

You may also have to watch out for raising an eyebrow, brushing hair from your face, even making a face, you might end up with something you had no idea you were bidding on. All joking aside its pretty easy to bid on items.

 

For the most part auctions are fun, but time consuming. They often last for several hours, which means standing around talking to friends, neighbors or even strangers until that item you think you can’t live without comes up for bid.

 

Sometimes auctions have two rings, so again you need to know what you are bidding on and where it is located so you can be in a position to hold up your hand if you are interested in purchase.

 

There are specialty auctions too, such as car auctions of all makes, models and years of cars; antique tractor auctions, and other auctions that sell specialized collections. It amazes me to see how much people are willing to pay for some makes and models of older cars. Some vehicles, even land and buildings or homes, are given a reserve . Which means they must bring a certain price before the seller will release the item.

 

Livestock auctions, horses and cows, are quite common, even grain or stocks are offered through an auction of sorts. You can even buy off your television set these days or by phone if you can’t make the auction and they accept on-line bids.

 

Auctions are part of our culture, have been for many years, and are unlikely to go away anytime soon. It’s a good way to get rid of stuff, but also a way to acquire more!!!

———

Jeannine Roediger has lived on a family farm all her life, first as a farmer’s daughter and now as a farmer’s wife. She writes weekly for the Times Bulletin and enjoys gardening, quilting, cooking, bird watching and writing.