How Many Opportunities Were There At The Opportunity Auction? A Lot !

Tom Schwenke called the auction from a stepladder.

WOODBURY, CONN. — Billed as the Opportunity Auction and boasting rules such as “NO phone bidding, NO Internet bidding and EVERY lot opens at $10,” Woodbury Auction’s Thursday evening sale, July 18, provided for an entertaining and exciting experience. Conducted outdoors, under a tent, behind a storage facility within the Woodbury Auction compound, the sale was attended by a good-sized crowd of buyers. Auction house principal and auctioneer Tom Schwenke did the calling the old-fashioned way, perched atop a stepladder.

What kind of merchandise is offered at an auction that that opens every lot at $10? The answer is all kinds. There was stuff that you would never expect to open at such a lowly bid as $10 — and then there was stuff that no one wanted for $10; even a couple items that passed at $2. In other words, there was some good stuff and there was some junk. Luckily, there was enough decent merch to keep the attention of the crowd and to keep the bids coming. In fact, there was plenty of good stuff — one example was a Sheraton chest in good early paint, that Schwenke thought to be of Maine origin, that sold for $480.

“We accomplished our goal,” stated Schwenke, “and that was to disperse some of the stuff that has built up in our storage unit over the past couple estate and Internet auctions. Some people got some really good buys and some of the stuff brought good money. We have an obligation to our consignors to sell the items where they will do the best, and this platform is working well. It creates a good opportunity for buyers and sellers alike.”

Schwenke commented that he had fun at the auction, despite the blistering early evening temperatures, and he further stated that the biggest disappointment of the evening was that he missed out on the free food that the gallery served to attendees. “I didn’t get any BBQ,” he mocked in an irritated tone.

Leading the way was a nice Danish Modern walnut desk and shelving unit by Cado that was among the top lots, selling at $575.

Several Doris Stauble floral arrangements were sold, with a pair bringing $180, while a group of four sold for $360. A nice four-drawer store counter display cabinet brought $460, a reproduction Remington bronze $360, two whale tail shelves went out at $312, a small bronze architectural mirror $144, and an early four-drawer chest on an ogee bracket base hammered at $140.

A Chippendale cherry chest brought $287, a Chippendale country blanket chest in paint took $172, an oak rolltop desk  was $431, and a Barrister bookcase sold at $529.

A lot of items sold for the opening $10 bid ($12, including premium), including a group of nine old baskets, a set of vintage drapes, a green tole lamp, a Sheraton revival sofa table, a small mahogany tilt-top table, five pieces of ironstone and a group of three hanging shelves.

A box of sterling sold for $528, while a smaller box of sterling flatware brought $329.

As the sun set and darkness made it hard for the auctioneer to take bids, the auction came to a close — well before everything could be sold, however. Accordingly, Schwenke has scheduled future Opportunity Auctions for both August and September.

Prices include the premium charged. For additional information, 203-266-0323 or

The Doris Stauble floral arrangements were $180.

The lot of four clocks made $115.

The Cado wall unit and desk with chair brought $575.

A group of baskets sold for $15.

The early dollhouse barn with a few furnishings brought $58.


The dollhouse with furniture sold at $201.


Showing good age, the whale tail shelves realized $312.

A Chippendale cherry chest brought $287.

A box of sterling sold for $528.


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