Laurel and Hardy go to the auctions

If you ever go to the auctions and see a man and woman silently bickering and giggling their way through the event chances are you’ll be looking at two of Hurley Books finest. Steve and I both love going to the auctions but it would probably be better if we didn’t go together. Last week I was after a lot of bird books, there were some really nice Cornish ones with line drawings that I particularly wanted but Steve couldn’t see the attraction. Bidding had got to £30 and Steve said enough, I of course was happy to go on but the auctioneer had seen his emphatic shake, moved past us and finished the bid with someone else at £32. Steve then had to endure a silently fuming harridan stood next to him for the next few lots.

That’s the joy and the problem of an auction. I was convinced that I could have had that lot for £32 but of course if I had continued to bid against the other person we may have gone way past £50, you just don’t know how much the other person wants what you want.

We started to whisper again as we secured a few lots and the ones that Steve was keen on started to hove into view. We should have paid more attention because as the auctioneer called out lot 125, Steve groaned realising he had just lost his place and lot 124 had sailed past. Surely the hammer didn’t fall on such a ridiculously low figure of £15? Please let it have been £150. Please let me not have missed the bargain of the century?

Then a collection of children’s books was ready. Now this was a beautiful lot of Edwardian picture books including a Rackham. Guide price £80 -£120, well that was reasonable but I was prepared to go to £200 because there were some really nice titles and one or two I had never even seen before. So as the lot approached I braced myself ready for action; the auctioneer had some bids on the book and opened at £250. Talk about having the wind knocked out of your sails, it would seem that someone else also rather liked the look of those books.

The day wore on and we got most of what we had come for as well as a few speculative items. These will be ones that we hadn’t looked at but were going for such a low price that it would be rude not to buy them. Collection at the end was funny, there were a few pleasant surprises and one or two groans but by and large a success.

Steve went to the next auction on his own and I nearly fainted when he came home and told me what he’d spent. Granted, he got some really fascinating things but oh mercy, our poor bank balance. So now it’s noses to the grindstone, get the books listed and up onto the internet and into our shops, otherwise Christmas is going to consist of a lump of coal and half a carrot.

I haven’t read a thing in ages simply because I’m going flat out with the new business at the moment and throwing money around at auctions so if anyone can recommend anything I’d be really grateful.

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