The Relevance of the Inevitable “Why”
Hopefully, everyone has enjoyed/survived the “snowpocalypse” of 2016. As I marveled at the heavy snowfall on Friday, knowing I was inside and prepared, I started wondering why snow events in the Nashville area weren’t as significant as I remembered growing up. Thinking of the relevance of that “why” inspired me to talk a bit about the auction “why”.
When I started as an apprentice auctioneer, one of the first lessons I learned was how to be a better listener. It didn’t matter if I was booking farm equipment or fine antiques, the client always had a “why” they were selling and I had to learn how to listen for that. If I didn’t hear an answer to that question, I simply asked. You see, not every situation is a good auction situation and the “why” is sometimes crucial in determining if the auction is a good fit. The “why” must be genuine.
An auction ad with the headline “Estate Auction” makes sense and the “why” is obvious. There has been a death and the sale is being conducted for the heirs or perhaps a Conservator or Administrator working on behalf of the heirs. That is the true definition of an Estate Sale and in the auction industry it is by far the golden headline. Buyers know and trust the “why” and therefore trust the process. You’ll certainly not see those words used for an auction by an auctioneer unless it is truly an auction conducted to liquidate an estate, meaning real estate and/or personal property. Now I know what you’re thinking. You see the words “Estate Sale” being over-used by non-auction companies everywhere from a tag sale to a moving sale. Well, I can’t speak for their industry, only mine.
Every so often the reason “why” is what garners so much attention and interest, and auctioneers try to be as transparent with buyers as possible; however, our first responsibility is to be loyal and sometimes discreet regarding our clients. Think of it this way, what is true for love is true for business, “Without trust, there is nothing” and that goes for sellers as well as buyers.
I enjoy telling the stories behind some of the unique pieces I have the opportunity to sell, and I find the people behind the pieces particularly fascinating. When I am given permission, I enjoy sharing their stories with my buyers. It’s the element of the unknown that makes the auction so fascinating and when bidders have control in determining what they will pay for something, it creates a great sense of empowerment!
Whether you have real estate, an estate, a business liquidation or simply personal property to sell, the auction sets an end date to your particular project so you can move forward. Couple an aggressive marketing plan with a strong auction market, and the auction can realize a very competitive market price.
So, the next time you wonder, “Why auction”? The reason is simple…it works!
James A. Newman, an Early Tennessee Politician
This month’s auction ending Wednesday, November 18th, is for the family of the late James A. Newman, who was born in 1892 and passed away in 1964. He was a lawyer and an American politician and his colleagues affectionately nicknamed him “Judge” for the many times he served as a special Judge for the various courts in Nashville.
He served in the military during WWI and when he returned, he practiced law. In 1939, he was elected to the State Senate and supported a number of important measures while in the General Assembly. He was a life long Democrat, and was a staunch supporter of TVA. He authored a bill calling for establishment of a “non-political” electric power board and for 17 months served as general counsel for the Nashville Electric Power Board.
Mr. Newman was a founder and active member of the First Christian Church and served for a short time as minister. He resided on Eastland avenue, and we have a letter from J. Percy Priest dated December 17, 1945 accepting an invitation to Mr. Newman’s home on Christmas Day. He was also a member of the Nashville and Tennessee Bar Association and a 33rd degree Mason.
Every Seller Has a Story
A large part of what makes the auction industry so intriguing is the people we meet. As auctioneers we have the opportunity to learn a little bit about a family’s history and present some of the wonderful collections that people have taken lifetimes to amass. In this month’s auction we have the pleasure of selling some items for some very interesting people, and would like to highlight two of those people in this blog post: the late Mr. Forrest Cress and Ms. Barbara Ihrig.
Forrest Cress was born on February 14th, 1892. He worked for Standard Oil Company, who sent him to China in 1916 during World War I. In a handwritten narrative of his life, part of which is pictured, Mr. Cress writes that he was also working on special assignment for the U.S. government reporting to the American military attaché in Peking during the war. Later in his career he joined General Motors, then joined Chrysler Export Corporation where he managed the Far East and South East Asian division for over 20 years. During the Great Depression Mr. Cress was sent to work in South Africa for four years, and then returned to the Far East where he lived and worked until he retired in 1957. During World War II, Mr. Cress spent two years in the Philippines as a Japanese prisoner of war, a fact that is detailed in multiple pieces of government correspondence preserved by the Cress family, and on file with the Smithsonian Institute.
We are in possession of several interesting pieces of correspondence belonging to Mr. Cress, and will exhibit these during our inspection on October 13th. These include documents from the State Department concerning his passage from Asia to America on the MS Gripsholm, an information packet detailing relief measures for American POWs in the Philippines, a 1915 letter from Standard Oil, as well as several of Mr. Cress’ business cards. While these documents are not included in this auction, I think they will certainly provide credibility to the remaining items we are selling on behalf of his heirs. Some of his items in this month’s auction include a personalized sterling silver Siam cigarette case, a ship carved out of rose quartz, and a brilliant agate incense pot.
This month we are also selling some items for Barbara Ihrig, a very sharp 94-year-old woman who has seen much change in her lifetime. One particularly interesting item we are selling for Ms. Ihrig is an extraordinary hand-written and hand-illustrated book dated 1888. This book, which meticulously details scientific and zoological theories, was written and illustrated by Mr. Hugh E. Hammond, who was an eccentric and reclusive neighbor Ms. Ihrig once had in upstate New York. During one of our meetings with Ms. Ihrig and her daughter, they told us that Mr. Hammond had no family to look after him, so every day for five years they visited him to take him food. Ms. Ihrig’s daughter vividly remembers Mr. Hammond walking down the stairs on his hands with his legs straight up in the air during these visits. Other items we are selling for Ms. Ihrig include two early 20th century signed Asian lacquerware pieces, old pocket watches, and an old cannonball rope bed.
One reason I am so enamored with this industry is because I love the stories behind the people and the items I sell for them, and I believe auction bidders do too. Sometimes it’s the story behind the piece that induces a person to bid. Whether I’m selling an estate for heirs who have lost a loved one or selling for someone who simply wants to share some of their pieces with someone else, I have certainly learned the most important lesson: When you take the time to listen, everyone has a story.
Auction Communities Big and Small
No matter what industry you choose to work, it’s nice to feel a sense of camaraderie with your fellow colleagues. It’s even better when you can all come together in one place to hone your skills and share war stories. I was in Dallas recently, where I attended the 66th annual International Auctioneers Conference and Show. There were over 1,000 auctioneers in attendance from all over the world, including South Africa, Ireland and even China.
We enjoyed an opening night welcome party at Eddie Dean’s Ranch featuring nine time Grammy winner Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel. The InterContinental Hotel made its home to a very impressive Trade Show featuring over 60 auction related vendors and multiple educational seminars every day. As you can imagine, there were also several auctions. There’s just nothing like an auction when there are so many auctioneers in the same room!
The week was capped off with the International Auctioneer Championship. This year, there were 97 contestants from all over the world. Congratulations to Tammy Tisland of Hines, Minnesota and Peter Gheres of Hiliard, Ohio.
Here’s to networking into the wee hours of the morning. Until next year, my fellow colleagues… get some rest!
I also had the opportunity recently to be a guest instructor at the Nashville Auction School, which is located in Tullahoma, Tennessee. There were 18 eager students representing 3 states for this particular 84 hour course. I must say, they did a great job. On one of their final days in Tullahoma, they actually set up and conducted a live benefit auction. The auction was open to the public and the community really turned out to support the auction. Each student sold 5 items, showcasing their new skills, and all of the proceeds collected that evening benefitted St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. I was the happy bidder and buyer of some farm fresh produce! Aside from the community catfish dinner before the auction, the student auction was the highlight of my visit!
Good luck to the new students of the Nashville Auction School. Remember, your name is all you’ve really “Got” so treat it well.
How to Respect Auction Tradition While Embracing Technology
I find myself saying things like, “When I started in the business…” and, “I remember when…” Instead of thinking those statements date me, I prefer to say they show character and experience.
It’s true folks…I do remember when I started in the business and the only advertising options were the newspapers and mailing out what we called sale bills. Now print ads have taken a back seat to online postings. Estate sales were always done on a Saturday, and when we had an estate sale we would have to get to the sale site around five a.m. just to get all of the personal property out of the house and under the tent. By the time the auction started, around nine or ten, we were pretty worn out, but that’s when our job as auctioneers got started for the day. Today, most auctions are conducted during the week because we know our buyers are busy on the weekends. Time has become our biggest commodity. Our sound equipment used to be our biggest investment; today it’s our website.
On a cold day I would use Hot Hands inside my gloves and Hot Feet inside my boots. Sometimes, the clerk’s pen would keep freezing making it difficult to write tickets. For the comfort of the auction attendees, we usually had those propane fueled torpedo style heaters and if you got too close to them they would melt a hole in your coat!! Yes, I know this first hand. If it snowed in the winter, it didn’t matter, because the auction always goes on! You see, once you actually made it to the auction, you were committed. No one left until the auction was over; that was tradition. Now for those of you who have never attended a live auction event like that, you’re really missing out. Those types of auctions build character!
In 2001, I was presented with an opportunity to sell the contents of 400 offices, 4 offsite storage facilities, and a 30,000 square foot warehouse full of office equipment. I knew I could not conduct a traditional walk around auction, so I turned to the new technology I had been hearing and learning about at our National Auctioneer Conventions, and voila – the rest is, as we say, history.
Using technology in the auction world actually made me respect the tradition of the auction method. Utilizing technology has made many parts of my business easier, however, it has also forced me to learn how to market an asset to an audience I can no longer look square in the eye. I’m no longer shopping for the best sound equipment or outdoor gear; I’m shopping for the best online software.
Here’s a tip…Did you know that on a cold auction day,
if you stand on a piece of cardboard or put your feet inside
of a cardboard box, your feet won’t get nearly as cold? You’re welcome.
So you see, nothing gets done by magic in the auction world. Instead, it’s learning how to balance auction tradition with the utilization of technology. Whenever I can, I still market an asset by visiting individuals and places of business. I use the technology platform as my auction tool. As a past mentor taught me, the secret to having a good auction is “Preparation, preparation and a little bit of luck!”
Objet D’ Art vs Objet de Vertu
When you hear the phrase objet d’ art, you probably think of antiques, textiles, porcelain, and three dimensional items; and you would be right. An objet d’art refers to art objects that are not paintings, sculptures, prints or drawings. It’s the term for “everything else”. An objet de vertu is intended to suggest a higher standard of objet d’ art using precious metals and gemstones; which brings me to the Eggs of Theo Fabergé and his St. Petersburg Collection. Baldini Auction Company, LLC has been contracted to sell eight of these Eggs at absolute online auction, which is open for bidding now and ends on June 17th at 2:00pm CT.
Theo Fabergé started the St. Petersburg Collection in 1985 and there are approximately 60 Eggs in the collection, some of which have been retired. As stated, we are selling eight Eggs from this collection. Theo Fabergé personally designed every creation, and he used only the finest materials. The Russian Imperial Crown on each Egg is made of sterling silver and 24-ct gold with a cabochon ruby. The woods used in his creations, and represented in the auction, are most often exotic woods. Crystal, sterling silver and vermeil are also commonly used in the Eggs.
Sarah Fabergé’s Spring Egg from her “Seasons Collection” is also included in our auction. Sarah was Theo’s only daughter and she launched her first design for the St. Petersburg Collection in 1994. Her Spring Egg features a brilliant yellow enameled exterior and the interior reveals tiny yellow primrose flowers and a sleeping snail hiding under the petals.
Whether you think these pieces reflect objets d’ art or objets de vertu, you should treat yourself to this auction. In my 20+ year career, this is the first time I have had the opportunity to sell a Theo Fabergé Egg. Look at each Egg in the auction, each picture, and read each description because I think you’ll be as in awe as I was. What’s more amazing than that is realizing you could OWN one of these Eggs. Remember, each Egg is selling to the highest bidder, regardless of price. This time, we’re selling opportunity.
If It’s a Seller’s Market, Let’s Have an Auction
We’ve all heard the term “It’s a Seller’s Market,” but do you know what that means?
If you live in Nashville, you probably already know we have been rated and ranked among one of the top cities for growth. It seems the residential real estate market can’t keep up with the demand. Our housing market has rebounded and is 11% stronger than pre-recession prices. According to Greater Nashville Association of Realtors (GNAR), closings for April 2015 are up 6.3% from last year at this time. Want to know what I think and how those numbers translate in the auction world?
Well, think about this…how would you want to sell your home if you happened to own a home in an area where demand is great, knowing homes don’t typically last more than one week on the market? Would you want to get the most money, or would you want to take the first offer? What kind of sale would you have if people were invited to participate in competing for your home? Let me answer that question; an auction.
I tell people who own homes in areas of great surges of growth, “I would be afraid not to have an auction.” With so much competition, it just makes good sense. I hear stories from potential buyers who have made back up offers to the back up offers. I also hear these potential buyers say, “They should have had an auction.”
If you are one of the sellers who received an offer within days from the initial listing, I’m sure the first thing your brain said to you was, “Thank goodness.” I’m quite sure shortly thereafter, your brain said, “Well maybe I didn’t ask enough for my property.” There is something conflicting and unsettling in this scenario; it’s simply human nature.
Now, as a potential buyer, you may want to live in an area where it seems everyone else wants to live; it validates your choice so to speak. We have a lot of these areas in Nashville. Also, as a potential buyer, you probably want to feel like you didn’t overpay for your new home. This is when I like to interject the auction philosophy.
The auction method allows a buyer to feel more in control of the situation because ultimately the buyer is naming his/her price. We all want to feel like we’re in control when making a decision as important as buying a home. We want to work with a real estate professional we can trust to make good decisions for us moving forward. By the way, auctioneers selling real estate at auction must hold a real estate license as well as an auctioneer’s license and auctioneers work with real estate licensees everyday in coming up with auction solutions for their sellers.
I know an auction sounds scary and unpredictable, and I know it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when wanting to sell a home. Quite frankly, every situation is not a good auction situation. However, I strongly recommend you consider the auction method of selling as a viable option. Talk to an auction professional. There are many great real estate professionals in Middle Tennessee, and an auctioneer can be a great partner in a real estate transaction. Couple a strong market with a strong auction professional, and you’ll most certainly be glad you considered (had) an auction.
Baldini Auction to Sell Lifetime Collection from the Late Paul Calloway
Baldini Auction Company, LLC is pleased to announce the opening of an auction which includes the lifetime collection of over 600 die cast cars and kit cars from the late Paul Calloway. The collection showcases cars from just about every era, make, model, style and class and 98% of the cars are in excellent condition and still in the box. This collection will be sold at absolute online auction opening Wednesday, April 8th.
This auction demonstrates the perfect opportunity and the reason why an auction may be the best way to sell an asset of this type. The auction platform can accommodate the sale of a vast collection in a way that makes sense and it is my personal pleasure to have been given this opportunity to sell Mr. Calloway’s collection that he amassed over many years.
Mr. Calloway was so proud of his collection and I hope that if he were here today he would be pleased that his wife, Rosemary, chose to sell his collection via an auction. A sale of this type will give so many people the opportunity to view his collection, participate in the auction, and hopefully buy a piece of what he was so passionate about and worked so hard to garner. We have worked very hard to present this auction in a way that makes sense for our bidders. Please enjoy and happy bidding!
In this blog, we have included a couple of photos, a page from his scrapbook and a letter congratulating him on being selected to represent Sumner County with his Automotive project from the University of Tennessee, College of Agriculture. These items are not included in the auction; however his wife Rosemary wanted to share these things with you.
Here is a short bio about Paul Calloway. We thought you should know a little more about the man behind the collection.
Paul and his wife Rosemary collected cars for years, before Paul passed away in 2006. Until now, this collection has been in storage. After all these years, Rosemary finally decided to sell the collection so other people could enjoy it.
Paul was born in Portland, Tennessee. As a young boy the family moved to Springfield, Tennessee to run a neighborhood grocery store. After school each day, Paul spent his afternoons delivering groceries on his bicycle. When he was 16, his family moved back to the family farm in Portland. There his father raised hereford cattle and farmed crops like strawberries and tobacco.
Growing up, Paul was always interested in cars. Instead of comic books or sports, he bought model car kits and put them together. He also learned as much as he could about cars, including their history, statistics and engines. His favorites were the cars of the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s. As a young man he was very involved with 4H, as you see in the picture. His favorite 4H project presentation was on automobiles.
After graduating from Portland High School, Paul went to work with a cousin in the sheet metal business in Franklin, Kentucky. Paul worked in the sheet metal and HVAC trade for the rest of his life. He owned his own heating and air conditioning business for 35 years.
As an adult, Paul shared his knowledge with many different organizations, including the 4H club, giving lectures and talking “car talk”. His hobby was more than simply collecting; it was a passion, and whenever Paul could share his knowledge and his collection, he was happy. His wife, Rosemary, hopes you will enjoy bidding on this collection and she hopes you will find some treasures of your own.
Antique & Garden Show of Nashville 25th Anniversary
This year’s Antique & Garden Show was held at the Music City Center, from January 30th through February 1st. It was an impressive show of color, texture and style, as pictured in our feature image of the “Living” Room. I had the opportunity to meet several antique dealers. Pam Klepper Sexton, Senior Designer at Pickwick Antiques, shared with me some of their top performing pieces, along with some of the history behind the pieces. They showcased an impressive array of antique tea caddy boxes and early nineteenth century paintings. Jim Fowler and Sons Period Gallery showcased some of our local Americana antique collector’s items.
As I was walking around the show, I noticed a crowd had gathered in one particular dealer space. The name of the space was Sacred Heart Antiques. I squeezed in to see what all the commotion was about and saw mostly women in this particular space. They would walk up to an item, pick it up, and then hold on tight until they could find someone who could take their money. It felt as if a frenzy had ensued. I was in awe simply watching the ritual. There were no prices listed; but that didn’t seem to matter. “What were they selling?” you ask… it was religious artifacts! They had the most beautiful antique rosary beads, angelic statuary that looked worn and worshiped, stage three relics encased in sacred vessels, and saintly adorned furniture.
I spoke with the owner, Jessica Fairbrother, who was from Mississippi. I asked about what inspired her and about the origination of most of her items. She said she spends a lot of time in France and visits the various markets there. The items she buys inspire her and she went on to say she buys what she loves. Anyone who spoke with her could tell she is an inspired woman who absolutely loves what she does. Don’t try to find her online because she does not have a website. She does, however, have a Facebook page. I guess even the most elusive and exclusive can be found on Facebook!
The Antiques & Garden Show Board of Directors should certainly be pleased. This important 25th anniversary was well organized and showcased some of the best antique, as well as horticulture, dealers.
Everyone Collects Something, But Then What?
Whether you realize it or not, we all collect something. Whether it’s rare books, swizzle sticks, Fabergé jewelry, fishing lures or artwork, we’re all guilty…but guilty of what?
Some people may collect items as investment pieces for resale, while others may collect just for fun (hence the swizzle sticks). However, for some people it’s about more than that…it’s about the quest…the lifelong never-ending pursuit. I like to think of that as a form of “therapy.”
I have worked with many people in estate situations where families have been bequeathed with an inheritance of some sort of personal property or collection. Nine times out of ten what happens in these situations is that the family typically isn’t particularly interested in this collection, or at least not nearly as interested as the original collector was. The surviving family members may each take an item from the collection to remember their family member, but then they decide to auction the collection and divide the proceeds. This makes a lot of sense.
When it comes to collections, the auction method of selling brings both collectors and “wannabes” to the table. The auction creates a sense of urgency, and provides a fantastic platform to showcase and highlight the variety of goods comprising a particular collection. Some people spend their entire lives collecting a particular genre. Collections can be quite extensive and exquisite, and I believe the auction method is absolutely the best way to sell a collection. The auction method allows items to be sold on a unique platform that would have surely made the original collector proud! A proper catalog, with detailed representation of the collection, online marketing, and competitive bidding along with strategic marketing aimed at locating other people with similar interests or collections are all factors that make such an auction work.
In conclusion: I encourage collectors of collections to continue to collect! When you’re ready to sell your collection, give me a call.