Photo: President John Graham greets Gerry McAfee, with VP Mike Turner (L) and club member Eric Fulton (R)
Talk by Mr Gerry McAfee and ‘The Art of Auctioneering’
Our Club President, John Graham, welcomed members and guests to the meeting and then introduced our speaker for the morning, Mr. Gerry McAfee, who would tell us about “The Art of Auctioneering”. In fact Gerry did more than tell us about Auctioneering, he very ably demonstrated the art, and then gave the members a test to see if we were paying attention! (web readers can also try out their skills below!).
Gerry began by telling us that despite growing up on a farm, he always wanted to be an Auctioneer. This started from when his father first took him to a pig auction, and it captivated the very young Gerry McAfee. However, by the time it came to be leaving school, Gerry found that his long dreamed of calling was not an easy one to get in to. In fact, it was a lot like farming - trainee auctioneers tended to be the offspring of other auctioneers, making it a sort of 'closed shop'. But luck must have shown on Gerry, as through a chance encounter with a family that were sounding him out for working in their shop, he heard about someone who WAS looking for a trainee. That was over 40 years ago, and Gerry hasn't looked back since.
According to Gerry, there are three important pieces of equipment you need to be an effective auctioneer:-
One, a good PA system - often spending three or four or even more hours at a time in a sale, speaking quite quickly and very clearly, it can be very hard on the throat with good amplification.
Two, a good rostrum - it has to be the right height, sturdy, room for the papers/lists, but not too big and difficult to manoeuvre. The one Gerry had brought for the talk was originally from a church in Ballyclaber!
Three, a good Gabble - although Gerry has many to choose from, most given or presented to him, his favourite gabble is the one his father gave him over 35 years ago. It is a good weight, comfortable to hold and has sold thousands upon thousands of auction lots.
One of the hardest things of being an auctioneer it telling people that their prised family air loom or lovingly collected set of something or other really isn't worth the effort of bringing in to be valued. Conversely, one of the most rewarding things is when you discover something quite unique that someone thinks is 'just old stuff'. This gave Gerry the opportunity to tell a hugely entertaining series of stories illustrating just these two extremes, as well as 'lucky finds' such as bundles of £20 notes in tea towels used a packing and envelopes of money let in furniture.
Modern technology has greatly changed auction sales. The TV antiques shows (and there are so many of these!) has expanded the interest in sales greatly, but it has also raised many peoples expectations of either 'finding a bargain' or being the owner of a 'valuable work of art'. The Internet (and phone) now plays a big part in the bidding process. With sale catalogues being downloadable from anywhere in the world and the chance to look for specific collectors items, many people can buy things without ever going to the sale - and that means the auctioneer has to look not only around the room, but see what is happening over the phone line too.
Gerry has found that these days the 'house clearance sales' fetch more money for similar items than they would in sales from the auction house although we're not sure just why?). Bidding in competition with someone else in the room can become very personal and involving, and Gerry gave some interesting stories of people loosing sight of the actual worth of the item, just in order to 'win' the bidding 'war'.
But then it was time for the members to try their hand at guessing the value of the item. Using real items sold at recent auctions, Gerry handed out test papers to see if we could judge to sale price of twelve objects. If you would like to try your hand at valuing these pieces and comparing your estimate with the selling price, just 'click' the image below.
The talk ended with a very short question and answer session before the President asked Eric Fulton to propose a vote of thanks. Eric said that it had been a very interesting and entertaining talk, and he was pleased to thank his good friend Gerry for being able to come along to give all the members such an enjoyable morning. The thanks were passed on by the President and members showed their appreciation.
*NOTE: To find out more about McAfee Auctions, just 'click' here
Mike Turner, Club Admin.