Saturday, September 19, 2009


In preparing to leave New York we knew we couldn’t take everything with us. We wrapped up what we could, gave some things away and in the end just left stuff we couldn’t afford to hoist onto the truck either physically or emotionally. But in preparation for the end we did investigate sending what we could to auction. We had a real pension for textiles: quilts, vintage barkcloth fabrics and drapes, Marseilles spreads, hooked rugs, embroidered pillows with sayings like “Home, Sweet Home” and “Forget-me-nots” stitched onto them. I went around to some of the local auctioneers asking if they would like to take them on. They were very straightforward with me, “Now is just not a good time. I got a warehouse full of things and we aren’t pulling in more than ten cents on the dollar. We don’t want to promise you something we can’t deliver.”
I sucked in a deep breath and told them I appreciated their honesty.
One of our friends had a friend at Doyle. They made a very gracious introduction for us and I sent photos of some of the things we had. The contact was helpful and honest. But what we had wasn’t in that $5,000 to $10,000 per piece area. They all thought the stuff was beautiful. It just wasn’t for them. Then as I fished around the Internet I came across a site with an auctioneer advertising their upcoming sale of textiles and clothing. I felt I had found a home for some of our prized and what I hoped were valuable pieces. I sent an inquiry and got a response from Andi, the auctioneer. Now Andi never put a Mr. or Ms. in front of their surname so I was a little unsure of which side of the fence Andi fell on. Our subsequent phone conversations didn’t help to clarify the situation either. A gravelly voice on the other end of my cell phone only deepened the mystery. What Andi did provide was a willingness to come and pick up the carefully boxed goods, take them back to Pennsylvania, photograph them, upload them to the auction web site and publicize the heck out of them to what was to be an extensive client list and a major auction event.
When Andi finally did arrive to pick up the goods, she swung out of the driver’s seat of her van with a big smile. She was thrilled with the pieces and disappointed I was thinking of holding back the hooked rugs. I was just relieved to know which gender I was dealing with. I subsequently sent her the rugs. These were the ones I had thought Doyle might be interested in and when they declined I thought I might as well send them off to Andi.
The sale was scheduled for the middle of September. I would get weekly updates from Andi as she and her crew continued to update their site with more pictures of the pieces we had sent. All day, on the Saturday of the sale, I walked around with all my fingers and toes crossed hoping for some financial relief. I was sooo tempted to call at the end of the day to see how things went, but I forced myself to wait knowing Andi would call as soon as she could to let me know how we had done.
Saturday passed. Then Sunday came. No call. No email. Monday, the same.
On Tuesday the email finally arrived. Deer Lee, Deer John, it didn’t make much difference. I felt like a lover with that note of rejection in hand, tears making the ink run in little rivers blurring the exact words that moments ago had appeared sharp and cutting. The auction went badly. The check would be coming the following week for less than 20% of my lowest estimate. Live and learn

Desperation can cause you to do things you shouldn’t do, but then a penny is better than no penny at all.

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