Auctions 101—Box Lots


I have been attending auctions all my life. I completely understand auctioneer "chant." It can be intimidating if you have never attended one. I'll break down auctions and the process over a few posts. Auctions in the winter used to be very sparse—they historically were held at an estate owners home in the yard with some of the larger items being indoors. Several auctioneers in my area now have warehouses they own or rent to hold auctions on a regular basis. Many auctioneers rent buildings at fairgrounds. Winter auctions are much more frequent now.

Typically, the auctions in my area are broken down into three categories: box lots, the ring with the good stuff and furniture. Today I will focus on box lots.

Box lots are just that, a bunch of miscellaneous items packed in boxes when an estate is emptied. Some are regular boxes and some are "flats"—small boxes about a couple inches high. Flats typically have jewelry, smaller items, etc. It is also where auctioneers will pull specific smalls out and highlight them.



Box lots can have anything from antiques to household cleaning products.

There are people that hate them, there are people that love them. I see them as hidden opportunity. If you take the time to dig through them, you can find hidden treasure! One of the problems is there are usually tons of boxes and digging through them can be take some time. I tend to do a quick run through and see if anything catches my eye. There are always Christmas items—always, so I dig in and see if there is any vintage Christmas items that would like to live at my house.

Above are some photos from an auction this morning. I wouldn't say this was a great auction. Lots of newer household stuff in the box lots. I did spy a few treasures.


In this pile of linens and fabric was an old patchwork quilt. It didn't have a fancy pattern, just a functional quilt with random fabric in great shape.


I bought the entire pile for $3. There was new batting in the package, fiber fill, and lots of fabric. There was also a newer comforter a couple of blankets and a knit throw. All of that went to Goodwill.


These old shoe forms and sad irons went for a few dollars too...but they went home with someone else. I already have some in the shop that haven't moved yet.


This box had puzzles, games and lots of cards. This 1950 USA puzzle map caught my eye before the auction. I knew it was coming home with me. It needed to live with my collection of map puzzles. It was in great shape considering it is 67 years old. I paid $30 for this and three other boxes (they often group boxes if they are not getting a bid). There are a fair amount of games and puzzles in the box. I am confident I can still get a return on my investment (I am totally keeping the puzzle)!


This was under the map puzzle. It is stacked with goodies in multiple layers.


There are always books in box lots too. These were on my list to bid. I didn't get them because I was in a different ring when these were being sold. Auctioneers often run multiple rings so unless you have a friend that will bid for you in another ring, you may miss out on some goodies.



Speaking of bidding, you are issued a bidder number at an auction. Today, I was 109. This allows you to bid on items, the winning number is recorded with the price and you simply pay a cashier when you leave. You can also record your purchases on the back. Clearly, I do not practice that. My sister is really good at recording every purchase and double checking when she checks out.

Although, this is about box lots, I need to share a couple of other finds.


I spied this little beauty before the auction. It is sturdy and I know I can make is shine. Stay tuned for future posts for the before/after. I was able to get this and the five chairs surrounding it for $3. Yes, $3 for all six. A measly .50 per chair. Score! I bought this chair for $2 and they couldn't get a bid on the others so they grouped them together and sold all of them for $1.


This Mid Century beauty caught my eye. I wanted to take it home and make it fresh and new. As I waited for it to come up for auction, I wavered. I have so many projects already...did I really need another? And this is one that would take hours, not 30 minutes. I resolved that if I could get it for a few dollars, I would definitely put it in the queue, but if not, it would be someone elses project. Before Mid Century Modern became so popular in the past few years, I could have gotten this for next to nothing, probably under $5, because no one would have wanted it except me. It sold for $15 today—several people wanted it. Very reasonable, yet I let it go home with someone else. If others wanted to take it and save it. I have plenty of other projects. It had great bones, it was solid and although I would have definitely replaced the fabric, the vomit green velvet fabric was so ugly, it was pretty. Some of you will know what I mean.

Don't be afraid of an auction. It is a lot of fun and there are treasures to be had!

#auction #midcenturymodern #chair #puzzle #boxlot #treasure #quilt #patchwork #games #cards

Whether my junk is from a garage sale, estate or farm auction, flea market or the side of the road, I love to find it, fix it, clean it, sell it or keep it. So come along the backroads of Indiana with Junk is My Life (me), let's find something vintage and do something cool with it! Formerly Junk Journal.