Antique items meet modern sales techniques

Nov 24, 2018

MARION — Though most of the goods at the Marion Antique Auction on Nov. 24 were old, the auctioneers have adapted the format of the auction from a traditional show-up-and-buy format to an auction that brings in participants from all over the world using cell phone bidders and the internet. The semi-annual auction also used a powerpoint for the first time instead of having runners showcase all of the objects. 

Francis H. McNamee, the owner of Marion Antiques, and other auction organizers set up over 100 calls during the auction. Over 3,000 people also registered online to bid through and, making wifi crucial and prompting auctioneer David Glynn to shout, “Stop hogging the wifi!”when the computer for bidding froze. The auction also had two staff members in charge of representing the online bids for the auctioneer.

“It used to be that people showed up, bid and took things away,” said McNamee. “Now things have changed with online auctions. 

Online bidding also helps with keeping sales up at an almost six hour event. 

“By the time 3 p.m. rolls around a lot of people have left and the auction house is almost empty. That’s why you need the internet,” Mc Namee said. 

Some of the Scottish swords did extremely well with international patrons that bid online. “A lot of those are going back to Scotland and Australia,” McNamee commented. 

The most expensive item that sold at this year’s auction was a Helen Frankenthaler painting, which sold for $18,000. Other notable items included an unusual harpoon with swivel barbs, a set of Dedham pottery that came from a house on Piney Point and surprised McNamee by selling for $3,100. 

The auction had over 500 lots for sale, most from estates in southeastern Massachusetts.  Fewer than ten of those items had no bids on them. 

Glynn made a number of witty comments over the course of the auction, as he gently egged patrons on to bid just a little higher. 

When one of the many needlework samplers failed to attract much interest, Glynn exclaimed, “think of the poor little kids with their fingers bleeding late at night by the candlelight.” 

When introducing a stick barometer, he said “you can drop it and it floats off your battleship, or something,” adding a quip when a nautical navigation manual sold for a low price that, “I guess everyone knows how to navigate these days.”

Glynn also commented on a Greek icon, saying “Little baby Jesus looks like he’s 35 in that.”