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I joined the Antique and Auction Industry after leaving school in 1988 and fell into auctions really by chance. I had grand ambitions of being an accountant, and at the time I was starting my studies in accounting and economics. Needing to fund my studies, and boring things like rent, I opted to study part time and work full time. I answered two job ads on a Saturday, one as a clerk for a Western suburbs retirement home (this would have most suited my chosen career path), the other as an auction store man for local auction rooms Theodore Bruce. Paying an extra $3000 a year I chose the store man position……and I never looked back.
I fell in love with the frenetic pace and variety auctions offer and I still vividly remember my first auction. A year later I had my first taste of auctioneering, and (despite my nerves) I was hooked further. Two years later I joined newly formed Adelaide Antique Auctions, where I was exposed to the boom in country furniture at the time. I remember the auction rooms stacked three high with large country pine tables, meat safes, chests and chiffoniers.
Years later I had the opportunity to join Peter Scammell at Scammell Auctions, and even more fortunate seven years ago to buy the business. Whilst the fundamentals of what we do are the same, we have grown to 15 staff and advancements in technology have had a huge impact on what we do. Now every lot is photographed and available to bid live online from your phone anywhere in the world.
The most memorable auction lot I have sold would have to be a very beautiful set of Victorian lead light panels by A.Troy. We had negotiated with the vendor a reserve price of $10 000, which I thought was going to be a tough achievement. The auction opened, and all was quiet, no bids came forth at the opening price of $10 000,
I dropped the asking price to $8000, still no bids, then to $6000 when the first hand rose, and the auction opened. Then an index finger surfaced, indicating another bid…..$7000, and then a volley back and forth between the two buyers, rising in $1000 increments. We surpassed $10 000 and I knew we had a sale. Then $11 000, then $12 000. The bidding seemed to have no end as we broke the $20 000 mark, then $21 000. After 10 minutes of volleying back and forth we hit $32 000, and the second buyer didn’t raise their hand again. Inside I was beaming and fist pumping, externally of course it all looked like it was meant to happen.
What I still love about what I do is story and everyone and everything we sell has a story. I have been fortune to meet some very interesting characters who have colourful histories. Of course the other thing I love is the pure variety of what we sell. Over my 29 years I have touched and sold hundreds of thousands of lots, and I still have a few more years left in me!