ONE THOUSAND AND ONE LOTS
Well in the event it turned out to be a mammoth one thousand one hundred and one lots. Really enough for a two day sale, but its always so difficult to judge whether to run a sale over one or two days. Will people bother to come back for a second day, will one long day be too long? Whatever is decided one always wonders if a different way would have proved better, but you can never look back and so I think the best way is to only look forward.
Some time ago I signed up to a programme which sends me an uplifting email each day. A sort of message from the ether, and it comes up with some surprisingly apposite ones indeed. The day after the auction, when I was feeling rather over-wrought it sent me this
Forget - Would have, could have, should have. You chose well. There have been no mistakes. Everything makes you more. Whatever was done all of life's elements have already re-aligned to your advantage. There is only love and things are always getting better.
Now there are many would say that just happened to be a coincidence or I am reading into it what I want to read into it, and that may very well be true in their minds, and of course we are each responsible for our own thoughts. Whatever – it made me feel happier and more relaxed.
It's hard letting go of things which have been part of your life and memories - some for nearly your whole lifetime, but of course they are only “things” and in general I have felt far more open about the whole process that I could have possibly imagined
Anyway back to the actual process of preparing for the sale.
I was recommended to use what turned out to be a very jolly firm of auctioneers. They would do an onsite auction for me, and what's more could set it all up so we could take online bids.
They were a father and son partnership and the younger of the two turned up for the initial reccie and retreated pretty fast to bring back reinforcements when he saw the size of the property and the sheer amount of items there were to be sold.
We set an auction date of 23rd November which would give four days before the purchasers were moving in.
It was agreed that they would start cataloguing as soon as possible, so the next Monday morning they arrived together with the young internet whiz of the firm who would also take the photographs. They set to with a will and I said I would work with them to give some assistance on cataloguing the antiques which was a little out of their field being mainly agricultural and property auctioneers.
It all started off in a reasonably calm and orderly manner the first morning as each individual lot was photographed for the internet, then described and measured in both metric and imperial and a suitable auction estimate agreed, with the two auctioneers the photographer and myself trying to work out some sort of rhythm. Now I am not generally much of a “lunchtime” eater and more often than not go without or just have a cup of coffee, or occasionally a bowl of soup, but two of the team were young men, and you know that young men need properly refuelling at regular intervals if they are not to flag.
By just past two in the afternoon half the team were looking slightly wan and strained and a lunch break was suggested in a slightly higher than normal voice. Had I been younger, or feeling fitter I might have anticipated the need to feed, but as it was someone went off to the local village shop to stock up on sandwiches and crisps, sausage rolls and pork pies. And they very kindly included a roll and some crisps for me in the order. In fact the roll was so large that I had half for lunch and it saved me cooking that evening when I had the other half for tea!
We powered on throughout the afternoon and though they stayed past five we had still only catalogued around sixty lots, and I have to say at that point in time non of us were aware of how many lots there would actually turn out to be.
Once everything was photographed, measured, described and included in the catalogue it all had to be put out in the correct order ready for the sale and the lot numbers stuck on. The lots were to be viewed in situ but the actual sale conducted from a marquee which was to go in the courtyard over the fountain, with the lots on offer being shown via a large screen.
The sale was to be in two sections with two auctioneers running at the same time, with the second auction starting in the barn and stableyard then moving down to a smaller marquee set up on the garage forecourt. This second section would include all the garden and farming type lots as well as the huge amount of surplus tools and household items which I would not be able to take with me. Parking was to be in the meadow, though if the ground surface was slippy this would have to be for 4 wheel drives only with the rest on the verges of the lane outside.
Late on the afternoon of the first advert hitting the local papers I panicked about security and some urgent telephone calls later found me with an onsite security man who would patrol the grounds until 7 the next morning. I have to say when the guy turned up that first dark and bitterly cold night with just a torch, a vacuum flask and his van I simply couldn’t have let him spend the night out there, so we hastily a rigged up section in one of the old offices with a chair, electric fan heater, a kettle for a hot drink and a small TV and aerial that was going into the sale.
I am not sure how much patrolling went on through the night hours, though I do know that one night when there was a false alarm on the house system I had to go and knock the door to tell him not to worry. I think the notice on the gates saying the premises were patrolled at night probably helped. And maybe an official looking printed notice might have been just as effective and a lot cheaper than paying for seventeen nights of guarding, but anyway all went well, and at least it meant that I could sleep soundly at night rather than lie half awake worrying about every little noise.