Join us: Which auction story do you like best?

Life writes the most curious stories. In this case they are stories of findings told by our experts.

Antoine Bauernfeind

  • Folk Art

Coffee in Vienna

At Auctionata, we regularly provide valuations for items from all over the world. One day, a request arrived from a suburb of Vienna. The attached photos revealed a small collection of Old Vienna, Augarten and Meissen porcelain. It was an inheritance, now destined for auction. I was eager to see the porcelain with my own eyes – and it just so happened that I was in town. I called the seller and made an appointment.

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The professor’s secret

A recently deceased professor’s estate was being put up for auction. There was an entire house full of heirlooms to be dealt with – and I decided the only way to get a proper overview was to visit in person.

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Thomas Seipt

  • Still Banks
  • Austrian Painting from 1900-1940

Marc Wegner

  • Vintage Posters (pre 1970)

Suddenly it clicked…

We regularly receive large quantities of old silverware for auction. We divide the pieces into different categories, or bundles, according to their original purpose. As so often happens, I was given a bundle of silver boxes to sort through.

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A Christmas gift

We see it all the time: people start clearing out their attic or cellar and come across all sorts of weird and wonderful treasures. Most of the time, they don’t even suspect they could be sitting on a small fortune.

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Joachim Schmitz

  • Furniture 19th C.
  • Paintings 1850 to 1930

David Lowenherz

  • Autographs

Wagner's script

Some decades ago, a New York auction house whose name begins with the letter "S" mailed out its latest catalogue of autographs and manuscripts. I took the catalogue home with me one evening, sat down in my armchair and began to work my way through it without a great deal of interest, until I got to the letter "W." At that point I read a very unusual and intriguing entry.

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An auction sensation from the backmost corner of the wardrobe

As a veteran clothing and textile appraiser for the popular public television series “Antiques Roadshow” and owner of America’s top auction house for vintage fashion and textiles, I am requested by many institutions and private parties to appraise costume collections or to review items for inclusion in my specialty auctions. One such request came to me in June 2011 from a man living near Newark, New Jersey.

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Karen Augusta

  • Antique Lace & Textiles

Mitche Kunzman

  • Indian Miniature Paintings & Drawings

The Mysterious Hand of Fate

Sometimes in art collecting the process of discovery seems to be almost fated. I remember one such incident over two decades ago which stands out in my mind above all others.

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A far-travelled heirloom

I had been working in the world of Chinese art for many years, dividing my time between China and Paris. One day I received a call from an elderly lady near Montpellier. She told me she had a rare painting, passed down to her from her Chinese father, with letters to verify her story. She added that her father had told her the painter was a very important man and that should she need money in the future, she should remember she had it in her possession.

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Pia Copper

  • Contemporary Chinese Art

Rebekah Kaufman

  • Steiff Bears, Animals & Dolls

Collectors’ dreams made of plushy fabric

The story behind this Steiff “Peter Rabbit” sounds too good to be true, but I swear on a tall stack of Beatrix Potter books that it is!

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A unique work of Japanese Art

The day began with a few scrolls that were acquired in Japan. Normally the routine would be opening the box, observing the box inscriptions and any attached documents, then hang the scroll to observe the painting and determine whether the work was done by the artist or not.

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Ryosuke Ueda

  • Japanese Paintings

Dr. Bernd Schmoller

  • Antique Clocks

The barter deal

Flea market in Hamburg. Fish market 1969. My offer on the rickety trestle table was not exactly what you could have offered to an auctioneer without blushing. In the end, my old aunt whose home I wanted to flog off had not been one of the oldies whose address could be found on Elbchaussee with an odd number. Everything was a bit more humble.

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