An Americana Auction for All of Us
July 4th Centennnial Flag. Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000
Mike Fallon says there are two types of country antiques customers: people who want reasonably priced old stuff to furnish their houses and serious collectors who want to invest in history and art. That he manages to cater to both groups simultaneously is one of the charms of the venerable, barn-red Copake Auction house (just off Route 22, about 6 miles south of Hillsdale, NY.) For his upcoming Americana auction on Saturday, March 29, Fallon will have antiques for every room and budget: The 527 items up for bid include a painted bowfront chest of drawers (estimate: $25 - $50); a cast-iron horse weathervane ($14,000 - $18,000); 19th century ball-and-claw foot steeple top brass andirons (estimate: $200 - $300); a circa 1900 oak libeary cabinet with glass doors (estimate: $350 - $550); a 19th century mantle with its original gray paint (estimate: $100 - $150.) “My estimates are very realistic,” he says. “The special thing about this auction is the selection of American flags,” he continues. “We’re only selling unusual ones, like one used by General Custer’s 7th Calvary” (Estimate: $1,600 -$1,800)
Fallon is not expecting a full house on Saturday because the auction business has changed. In the good old days, Copake’s sales room was packed with 250 bidders, but now he usually gets only 150—and many of them place absentee bids and leave early. “They’d rather have dinner at Pearl’s than spend their night at an auction.” He doesn’t mind, because many of the biggest customers now leave bids on his website and don’t even bother to attend the previews on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
A Copake Auction can last four or five hours, despite the fact that Fallon claims to be the fastest auctioneer in the region. “I can do 115 lots per hour,” he says. “Sometimes I lose patience and sell things too quickly.” That’s when the diehards in the audience get the best deals. He expects that bargain hunters will flock to this sale. He says prices reflect the dichotomy of the economy at large: While prices for high-end pieces continue to skyrocket, the prices for low-end pieces is actually falling. “For most people,” he says, “this is a good time to buy antiques.”
What’s On the Block This Weekend
A 20” x 25 stable sign, estimate: $50 - $75; a pair of 28” high cast-iron urns, estimate: $250 - $350.
Gilded peacock weathervane, estimate: $1,000 - $1,500; a 47” x 70” painted dry-goods sign, estimate: $300 - $400