Behind the Block

There’s far more to being a professional auctioneer than merely marketing merchandise. Each week, Behind the Block explores the precise methods, the elemental madness, and the intrinsic humanity of the auction industry.

 J. Bear Savo

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Boxlot Post No. 2 – random auction observations

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Boxlot Post No. 2 – random auction observations

Brainstorming for this column inevitably leaves me with stories, thoughts, and epiphanies that aren’t substantial enough to stand on their own. Hence, this second of many Boxlot Posts in which I offer my miscellaneous conceptual tchotchkes in a virtual cardboard box… I often get asked, “What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever sold at auction?” This […]

 J. Bear Savo

BEHIND THE BLOCK: That time I was called a racist…

BEHIND THE BLOCK: That time I was called a racist…

Once upon an auction, I was accused of being a racist. It happened before the sale when people were arriving and registering. I was approached by my cashier, who explained that there was a woman at the front desk who wanted to sign up for a bidding number but didn’t have the necessary identification, so […]

 J. Bear Savo

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Vintage advertising is worth more than you may think

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Vintage advertising is worth more than you may think

One of my favorite genres of merchandise to offer at auction is vintage advertising. Nothing better illustrates the zeitgeist of bygone eras than the ballyhoo used to captivate consumers. Unfortunately, too much vintage advertising gets condemned to landfills and scrapyards. Indeed, many who discover it in estates they’ve inherited disregard its market potential. Perhaps the […]

 J. Bear Savo

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Is Billy Beer valuable? It wasn’t even drinkable

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Is Billy Beer valuable? It wasn’t even drinkable

When I uncover Billy Beer in an estate, I find it as it is pictured above: unbroken, unopened, and unconsumed. I laugh and imagine a scene in which a fading man, lying in his deathbed and gripping his wife’s hand, hoarsely delivers his final instructions, among which include, “Remember, if you need more money, you […]

 J. Bear Savo

BEHIND THE BLOCK: ‘Oh, fudge!’ – how to shut down an auctioneer

BEHIND THE BLOCK: ‘Oh, fudge!’ – how to shut down an auctioneer

Rarely am I rendered speechless. More than most of the time, I have a well-timed, well-spoken, intelligent, smartass retort to any comment or question sarcastically offered me. Yes, rarely am I rendered speechless. There are moments, however, when my tongue clings to my palate, my brain freezes, and I just gape or scowl or laugh. […]

 J. Bear Savo

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Boxlot Post No. 1 – random auction observations

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Boxlot Post No. 1 – random auction observations

Brainstorming for this column inevitably leaves me with stories, thoughts, and epiphanies that aren’t substantial enough to stand on their own. Hence, this is the first of many Boxlot Posts in which I will offer my miscellaneous conceptual tchotchkes in a virtual cardboard box… Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. Auctioneering is the […]

 J. Bear Savo

BEHIND THE BLOCK : ‘Do you sell stuff here or…?’

BEHIND THE BLOCK : ‘Do you sell stuff here or…?’

Carlo and I were working in the auction gallery when a curious woman entered. She approached my brother and said to him, “Do you sell stuff here or…?” My brother waited for her to finish her question, but nothing more was offered. Carlo nodded, “Well, yeah. That’s what we do here. We sell stuff at […]

 J. Bear Savo

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Inside information on the value of old books

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Inside information on the value of old books

Fast Eddie, a longtime client and friend, sent me an e-mail that will prove critically enlightening to my fellow auctioneers, antique/collectible dealers, and those who are either part of – or thinking about getting into – the online trading community. It reads as such: This morning I was at an estate sale when I overheard […]

 J. Bear Savo

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Befuddled by a dressing table

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Befuddled by a dressing table

I was alone in my gallery, prepping for an upcoming auction, when two women (I’ll call them Dense and Denser) walked in to have a look. They perused the inventory, making squealing quips and clucks. I gave them a few minutes to walk around before I greeted them and asked if I could be of […]

 J. Bear Savo

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Silly bidding techniques

BEHIND THE BLOCK: Silly bidding techniques

I’ve already discussed stealthy bidding techniques and overt ones. Then I took a stroll through that cerebral zoo of mine where I keep all of my absurdity. There I found silly bidding techniques, ones that I’ve never actually seen used, but that would be hilarious should they ever be employed by auction-goers. The Slasher Flick […]

1 2 3 4