Another sale over. Great fun, very exciting and it went well. We hire the room for the afternoon and evening only – with two sales a year, we don’t need a saleroom any longer – so any telephone calls have to be from mobiles. Several people wanted to book phone bids. Unfortunately, most of these were for the same two lots.
El and Phil came up from London, Ro had the afternoon off work (he works half an hour extra Monday to Thursday so that he can have every other Friday afternoon off) and Al was coming along after closing the shop. Ro was filling in the details of buyers on the computer during the sale. Lovely cousin C, whose father was an auctioneer, came to help with the viewing and to take the money at the end and I asked her to take a telephone bidder. Her face was a picture of horror, but I explained that El was phoning someone for lots 115 and 116 and I was phoning a bidder for 116, and I needed another for 115. Darling C agreed.
Al, meantime, had been given commission bids by his father. He had some in the book, but in this instance it was appropriate for bidding to be done from the floor too. He did not arrive until two minutes to seven – we were told afterwards how our expressions turned from anxiety to relief. He’d tried to close early but had too many customers hammering on the door! Then he had his Friday night deliveries to do.
I decided on a whim to bid for one of the books. I waved my arm. The Sage, prompted by his daughter, finally noticed me (I think he had assumed I wanted to scratch my head in an extravagant fashion). He took my bid and I won. “Bidding number?” he asked. “I don’t have one,” I said. “It’s me!” I grabbed a spare number from the table and waved it. He wrote it down. I blushed. People in the saleroom chuckled.
Later, I phoned a client. The first time I did this, I felt very nervous, but I’m used to it now. I ring a couple of lots early – say who I am but don’t address the person by name, in case they want to remain anonymous, tell them the lot we’re on and let them listen in, confirming the final price. When it’s their lot, I tell them, describe it to confirm we’re on the same wavelength and then tell them each time there’s a bid and ask them if they want to bid. This person bid for, and bought, two items.
Cousin C and Daughter El, as well as bidders in the room, went head to head over their lot. C’s bidder won. By this time, I was on the phone to my client. She and her husband were full of determination to buy the last lot, the inkwell. The price rose quickly, with five or six people all vying with each other. El’s bidder dropped out and there were three of us. Then two. “Eleven thousand five hundred,” I said. “It’s against you. Do you want to bid again?” I heard her talk to her husband. “Yes, put in another bid” she said. I waved. “Another bid” I said, it’s twelve thousand five hundred against you. Will you bid again?” She and her husband talked again. The Sage looked at me. “Yes,” she said, “One more.” I bid and looked around. Al shook his head. The Sage repeated the price, thirteen thousand pounds. He called again. I told my bidder that she still held the winning bid. As the Sage called the price for the last time and raised his gavel, I held the phone out for her to hear “Sold”. I confirmed her winning bid and congratulated her. She became emotional and I said I felt for her – there were particular circumstances why the buying of this item is of great emotional importance to them, which is why I particularly wanted to make the call. I said that the Sage would phone the next day, we said goodbye and I put the phone down and looked at the queue of people waiting to pay. Ro was printing off the invoices.
An hour later, it was done. We packed up the unsold lots – always a few of those – and those bought by absent bidders, loaded them in the car and drove home. We all went through to chat to Dilly, who had visited the saleroom in the afternoon with the children, but had felt a bit lonely and out of it at home on her own in the evening. At about 11, we shambled home again and I read emails and a blog or two to wind down. I finally was in bed by 12.30 and out in the greenhouse by 8 the next morning. Packed up plants, went to the shop and had a busy morning. El, Phil and I went to the pub afterwards. I sent congratulations to the landlord’s wife, voted onto the Parish Council. I roamed tipsily home at 3.15.