Published: February 25, 2003
Major Snowstorm Complicates Presidents’ Day Auctions around the Northeast
Compiled by David Smith and W.A. Demers
Antiques and The Arts Weekly called around for a sampling of Presidents’ Day auction results and here is what we found:
Bradford Galleries, Ltd of Sheffield, Mass., went ahead with its antique furniture and accessories auction on Sunday, February 16, but rescheduled its sale of photography and ornithology books, bindings, original art, graphics and maps for Saturday, February 22. At the furniture sale, the auction house had “very good attendance,” according to Dorothy Lidstone.
In Cambridge, Mass., Hub-ley’s annual Presidents’ Day sale turned out to be great despite the weather, said Bob Cann, the firm’s senior auctioneer.
“We decided to start at 10 am, just about the time it began to snow,” said Cann. “When we reached lot 220 at the end of the sale, the Cambridge parking ban was just going into effect.”
Cann noted that a lot of people sometimes come to events despite iffy weather because they sense an opportunity. “People were bidding happily and freely,” he added, although they may have been a bit shocked when they turned around to look out the window once the sale was over.
Evan from Gabriel’s in Walpole, Mass., did not even attempt to load up the trucks to bring estate auction rdf_Descriptions to the Holiday Inn in Dedham, Mass., the morning of February 17.
“We decided to reschedule for the 19th, and it worked out pretty well,” said Evan. “The only problem was that we were due to start the sale at 6:30 pm on Wednesday and at 6:10 a big power transformer blew and we lost lights, the computers, everything for about an hour.”
A crew was sent out to Gabriel’s warehouse to get power generators, but before they could return the power was restored at the auction venue. “You just have to adapt,” commented Evan, who has had to postpone just one other auction due to weather in his 31 years of business. “The customers were really good about it all.”
Bob Fricker, owner and auctioneer at Cornerstone Auction Galleries, Providence, R.I., postponed his February 17 auction to February 19. “Rescheduling really had no affect on attendance. We did some advertising, in about five newspapers,” said Fricker, who added that only once before in 40 years has he had to postpone an auction.
Rose Hill Auction Gallery, Ltd, Englewood, N.J., also had one other previous postponement due to weather, recalls president Judy Lipton. “We postponed the Monday auction to Wednesday [February 19],” said Lipton. In spite of the postponement, “we had a full house,” she reported. The auction house got the word out by calling its buyer lists and putting a message on its answering machine with details of the new date.
In Point Pleasant, N.J., Point Pleasant Galleries’ originally scheduled sale went off well to a “packed house and 130 registered bidders,” according to Greg Hawriluk, owner. Asked whether some people may have sensed opportunity, Hawriluk replied, “That could be part of it. I’ve found that with more serious buyers, the weather will not really affect them.”
Quinn’s Auction Galleries, Falls Church, Va., rescheduled its quarterly catalog sale due to the more than 20 inches of snow that blanketed the Washington, DC, area. The auction has been rescheduled for Sunday, March 9, at 1 pm, due to previous scheduling commitments by the gallery.
“In the interest of our consignors, we feel we had no other choice,” said Paul Quinn, owner of Quinn’s Auction Galleries. “In a sense, you hate to push something like this off, especially since we did have one person from South Carolina who fought his way to preview on Saturday.”
When Bobby Langston of Wilson, N.C., left his home at 7 am on Monday, February 17, the icy conditions made him decide to delay his auction by a couple of hours.
“I was between a rock and a hard place because we had people here that had come from out of town, one who had traveled here that morning, so I decided to go ahead with the sale,” said Langston. “It cost me a lot of money.” Worse, Langston recalled that of the three storms he has weathered this season, he has had sales scheduled for the dates of every one of them.
Michael Smith of Cherry Tree Auctions in Greenwich, N.Y., canceled his Monday auction for the first time in 16 years, something which the auctioneer stated “offended my sense of adventure, but it was probably the best thing to do.” Smith, who rescheduled for the following Monday, sent emails to more than 1,100 clients and got his cancellation broadcast on local television and radio stations. The auctioneer reported that he waited for customers at the gallery during preview hours and had to turn away only five people.
Ernie Eldridge of Willimantic, Conn., had to cancel both the auction and his originally projected snow date of Tuesday. The auction was rescheduled for the following Monday, and Eldridge said they hope to be able to run their weekly sales every Monday for the remainder of the winter.
John McInnis was lucky enough to get his auction off as the snow hit the Portsmouth, N.H., area later in the day and accumulations were far less than seen in lower New England. McInnis reported a good crowd and solid prices.
Tim Chapulis had to cancel his first auction in 24 years, which featured the contents of a small home. Unlike many others, the Bristol, Conn., auctioneer was able to conduct the auction the following evening and also reported a good crowd.
Elmer Murray of Litiz, Penn., was scheduled to host an antiques and collectibles auction although the storm also forced him to postpone. Murray commented that they were still digging out from the 27 to 30 inches of snow three days later. The sale, scheduled for the following Monday, also had snow in the forecast
C&C auctions in Larchmont, N.Y., was also forced to cancel, making it the first time they have been unable to conduct a sale in their history. The auction was postponed two days and had a “surprisingly good crowd — not as many paddles as usual, but more than expected.”
Scott McCulloch, Hingham, Mass., had an assortment of Americana and estate merchandise scheduled for Presidents’ Day and he also was forced to postpone. The auctioneer got his sale off the following Monday.
Greenwich (Conn.) Antiques Center was scheduled to offer an assortment of estate merchandise, but the highways in the area were all but shut down, forcing cancellation. The auction was rescheduled for the following Sunday.
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