"Leave it to Beaver" Goes to Auction
Whether you are looking to buy or sell or just sit on the sidelines, public arenas are one of the most exciting venues for getting personally involved in antiques. To learn more, let's drop in on Cleavers at the Mayfield Gallery as Beaver and Wally are attending their first auction. The preview room is packed with customers inspecting antiques for artistry, integrity and condition before the sale begins. Beaver, returning from the bathroom, is surprised to run into his brother's friend, Eddie Haskell.
Beaver: "Gee Eddie, what are you doing here?"
Eddie: "Just for your notification squirt, I happen to be a big-time wheeler-dealer of old venerables. What, did your parents finally throw you out the house?"
Beaver: "No … they're here. My dad came to buy a really old toy train in original blue paint. He's gonna get it cheap 'cause nobody knows how rare and valuable it is 'cept for him. But he says he won't lose it even if he has to bid a Jillion dollars!"
The news causes Eddie to grin wide as the Cheshire Cat. "Don't tell your brother or parents you saw me here," he says. "I'm on a secret mission!"
"Ok, Eddie," the Beaver says, and returns to his family.
June: "Ward, I think the boys are too young to be around all these valuable old antiques."
Ward: "It's good experience for them, June. When I was younger than Beaver's age, my parents dragged me to two auctions a week whether I liked it or not."
Wally: "Did you have to drive eight miles to get there, Dad? Through five foot snow drifts, like you did when you walked to school?"
Ward: "That will be enough, Wally."
Beaver: "Why are you writing in that book, Dad?"
Ward: "This is an auction catalog, Beaver. It's a listing of all the lots that are going to be sold in numerical order. Quality sales usually include descriptions and a price range where the auctioneer thinks the bidding will fall. I'm writing down the highest price I'd happily be willing to pay for each object or group of objects I am interested in now before the sale begins, when I am logical and unemotional. You see, Beaver, no antique shines brighter on the auction block than the one missed during inspection. For instance, on this blue train here, I am willing to go as high as $500, but I'm sure I'll get it cheaper. That's why I'm writing $500 right next to the item in my catalog - to remind me not to overbid."
Wally: "Yeah Beave, once the sale starts and that auctioneer fellow stats yapping he can talk anybody into anything. Dad might try to show off in front of everybody and bid us out of house and home!"
Ward: "That will be enough, Wally."
June: "I saved four chairs for us in the second row, Ward."
Beaver: "Why up there, Mom?"
June: "It's the best place to see things, Beaver. And your father likes to sit with the audience behind him. "
Wally: "Yeah Beave, dad doesn't want to look at people he's bidding against. All our neighbors will hate us and think we're creeps!"
Ward: "That will be enough, Wally. Besides, at half the sales I attend these days I feel like I'm not bidding against people but reserves."
Beaver: "What's are those, Dad?"
Ward: "Reserves are minimum price levels negotiated between the auctioneer and the consigners - the people who own the objects that are being sold. This sale has been advertised as "unreserved." That's one of the reasons we're here."
The first lots sold are interesting items, to wake up the crowd. Over time the quality builds toward the middle of the auction in crescendo-like fashion. When the blue train comes up, Ward is disturbed by a lean, blonde, youthful looking gentleman barely visible in the rear of the gallery who bids him up way over the figure written down in his catalog. "I think it's one of those Keno boys from the Antiques Roadshow," June says. Buoyed by the prominence of his competition, Ward finally lands his prize for $1975. "I guess I showed that TV fellow a thing or two!" Ward says.
Beaver: "That's no TV star, Dad. That was Eddie Haskell bidding 'gainst you."
Wally: "Gee, I don't know why Eddie would be bidding on that blue train. He found one just like it at tag a few months ago. I was with him. You don't thing he wants another one, do you, Dad?"
June: "Ward … you don't think Eddie consigned that train here and was bidding us up? That wouldn't be right!"
Ward: "That will be enough, dear."