LOTS OF OLD POSTCARDS,MOVIE POSTERS,HEATHKIT ELECTRICAL KIT...HUGE AMOUNT OF OLD PAPER GOODS, CATALOGS,MAGAZINES,LOTS OF PAPER GOODS!! ...
MANY OLD TOYS,COUNTRY STORE ADV ITEMS,SIGNS,DISPLAY ITEMS, SODA ITEMS,ETC,...MANY RARE & UNUSUAL PRIMITIVES,VINTAGE SPORTS ITEMS,AND MUCH,MUCH,MORE!! ... THERE WILL MANY SURPRISES AT THIS ONE, SEVERAL NEW CONSIGNORS HAVE BEEN COLLECTING FOR OVER 30 YEARS,AND THEY ARE DIGGING IN THEIR COLLECTIONS AND PULLING OUT SOME REAL NEAT STUFF THAT HAS BEEN STORED AWAY FOR DECADES!!TONS OF OLD PAPER GOODS,TABLES WILL BE LOADED AGAIN!!
Those are two words that send the heart of any ephemera collector stirring.
And it turned out there were plenty of ephemera collectors (or, more likely, dealers) there.
The auction was a great experience. It was held at the York County 4-H Center, where my daughter has her monthly 4-H Wildlife Watchers club meeting, so I was familiar with the location and layout.
The auction itself was run by Stermer's Auction Service out of East Berlin, which did a terrific job. Though a first-timer, I had no problem getting registered.
It did take me about 20 minutes as an observer to catch on to how the auction process works2. They started in the back in the room with a rows of, say, 12 boxes full of miscellaneous items. The highest bidder would get first pick of however many boxes he or she wanted (paying the full bid price for each box). And then the bidding would start again for first pick among the remaining boxes. So there was a law of diminishing returns and bids until finally there were just a few boxes left, which were auctioned as one final group lot.
A good bit of the ephemera was auctioned this way at the beginning of the auction. There were tables with 10 rows of pulps, comics, movie magazines, etc. And the highest bidder would get to pick which row of magazines he or she wanted. The first few "picks" would be auctioned for prices in excess of $100 at some of the tables. And even when things cooled off, the final row of 6-10 vintage magazines might go for $20 or more.
I only had about $40 in my pocket that I was willing to spend. Plus I was new at this, so I wasn't interested in getting involved in the bidding on any of the items drawing a lot of attention.
One table full of ephemera caught my interest, though. The highlight was ten big cardboard containers full of receipts and records recently pulled out of an old mill in Glenville, York County. Each box was about the size of one of those unabridged dictionaries you see on pedestals in libraries, and was jam-packed with paper. I was definitely interested in snagging one of them, and willing to go up to $30 once the initial burst of bidding on the table died down.
Didn't happen. A woman who had already snagged a ton of ephemera in the previous hour got aggressive in the second round of bidding at the table and won a pick for $40. She took all ten cardboard containers, spending $400 to collect the old paper from that York County mill.
Soon the traditional auction began with an auctioneer at the front of the room and each item brought up individually by assistants. It was fascinating to watch the process and see what people were bidding on.
Here are some of the notes I jotted down on items and how much they sold for:
- Factory-sealed Lionel Pennsylvania Flyer, $140
- Two little elf/gnome figurines, $50
- Land O' Lakes thermometer (about 18 inches tall), $45 Buster Brown store sign, $75
- Book of postcards, $150
- Box of old Valentine's cards, $100
- Very small Pepsi sign, $30
- Small box of postcards, $55
- Mickey Mouse phone, $20
And what was my haul? Very modest. Pictured below is what I won at my first auction: a small box of vintage paperbacks for $5 and a 10-pamphlet collection titled "Home Course in Animal Breeding" for $5.
Can't wait until the next auction!
1. My wife would strongly oppose this statement, and would point to the 30-pound box of ephemera in our bedroom as evidence to the contrary.
2. A fun and interesting book about auctions of a half-century ago is "Going, Going, Gone!" by Bellamy Partridge.