12 March 2010


On "The Generation Game", winning contestants would watch a conveyor belt gliding disparate potential prizes in front of their eyes - from the ubiquitous cuddly toy to microwave ovens, golf clubs, towels, foot spa baths, framed pictures. So it is in your typical auction house - an assemblage of disconnected objects from who knows where? And if it could speak, each object would have a story to tell.

Down at the ELR Auction Rooms in Sheffield this morning, the auction catalogue listed 573 lots - from Lot 1 -"A quantity of promotional photographs and stills of music artistes" through Lot 290 "Fourteen Welcome doormats" and onwards to Lot 573 "An oval shaped pedestal coffee table with reeded cabriole legs". This wasn't Southeby's. The auction started at 11am prompt when the auctioneer advised that it would end some time after three o'clock. He was right.

The auction room was as big as a couple of school classrooms. It was crammed with the day's fayre - Victorian light fittings hanging from a bar, hulking walnut wardrobes from the nineteen fifties ranged up against the windows. In one corner there were the smaller lots in boxes and plastic bread trays. Many of these collections would have been gathered from house clearances - picking over the bones of the dead. Bizarrely there were numerous large plants in another corner and a miniature family of Easter Island moai to beautify one's shubbery.

I was really there just for the craich, the experience, but there were a couple of lots I might have bid for if the bids had been ridiculously low - a brass ship's bell engraved "St Gerontius Hull 1962" and a solid re-upholstered Victorian armchair which I sat in for most of the auction. In the event, the bell went for £75 and the armchair for £42 but there were numerous other lots that were sold at bizarrely low prices with the auctioneer having to press hard to achieve any kind of response. The fourteen brand new Welcome mats went for £8 as did a mahogany freestanding corner cupboard and a nineteen fifties bedroom suite comprising a two door wardrobe and dressing table - both in fine condition. The most expensive lot of the day was an exquisite brand new Persian wool and cotton carpet - a snip at £560.

Afterwards, I had a half of Barnsley bitter and a cheese roll in the Campaign for Real Ale's national "Pub of the Year" - "The Kelham Island Tavern". It also won this prestigious award last year.

Next time Eadon, Lockwood and Riddle have an auction I may be back but first I'll attend the viewing day to see what catches my eye. I have always loved junk shops and to some degree visiting a household auction is like discovering the source of The Nile if you see what I mean. Recommended for free entertainment on a drizzly March day.


  1. I love old stuff too. (That's why I like you, YP.)
    But for years I thought that if I ever attended an auction I'd accidentally buy something with an inadvertent sneeze or twitch like I'd seen in the movies. I was so nervous I never went to one until recently. They are fun! Especially so if you have a funny auctioneer.

  2. ELIZABETH2:23 pm

    I love auctions, too, YP. They can be quite addictive, though! I once bought half a chest of drawers, which sounds odd, but was just what we needed for a particular space. It came with contents. A black dustbin liner absolutely stuffed with most detailed letters between the lady who had died, her husband and her lover; what was worse as I began to read, I realised that the lover was a very eminent speaker in our area, well known to me. I didn't have the courage to read any further and burnt the lot...I've often thought, many years later, that any writer would have considered them a dream find. x

  3. Elizabeth2:26 pm

    Sorry, didn't mean to SHOUT there...must have had caps lock on.

  4. Katherine - So I am "old stuff" am I? You really know how to hurt a guy. I liked you too until you said that. you, you... *&!?*&$!
    ELIZABETH ( WITH CAPITALS) Your letter find reminds me of when I was at university and I found an unnamed young woman's diary. There were some interesting revelations in it - including an unwanted pregnancy. I wish I had kept it for source material or should that be sauce material?

  5. Homes under the Hammer, David Dickinson style auction rooms...

    Is Pudding turning into a daytime chav?

    Find out when we return on 'Loose Women'...

    *cut to pudding between the four daily harridans*

    Glad to see Eadon, Lockwood and Riddle are still going, a real Sheffield institution among the multi-national Halifaxs and jonny-come-lately Saxton Mees (spits...) of this world...

  6. Anonymous7:39 pm

    Nice post
    I have started a new blog for blog submission and link exchange.
    Please submit your blog or url on my blog.

  7. Elizabeth11:36 pm

    The likes of you and me just have too many scruples for this caper. x

  8. I've never been to an auction, but have had some interesting times at raffles, where I've accidentally ended up with things I didn't need because I let my son put the tickets in the paper sacks. (You buy tickets and put your name on them. All of the items have some paper sacks attached to them, you deposit tickets in the sacks of the items you want. One ticket is drawn as the winner of each item.)

    We ended up with 2 rabbits at one raffle. As I started telling my son that would not work, he said, "But we didn't win the baby goat."

    If I do go to an auction, I will go alone.

  9. BOOTHETTE - "Loose Women"? Is it a programme about prostitution?
    blog-linkexchange-blog - Go to hell and keep well away from this blog!
    ELIZABETH - Were you also referring to blog-linkexchange-blog ?
    JAN BLAWAT Sounds like your son can be a bit of a mischief! By the way, how did you prepare the rabbits? Slow-cooked in a stew with carrots and turnip is my preferred method.


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.