Vancouver, British Columbia is the birthplace of Laurence’s father. When we found out that we had the opportunity to attend the annual VPD auction it was a wonderful opportunity on more than one account. We went a day before the auction was to take place so that we could have some time to take a look around the city. What a beautiful city! We also took a trip to Fort Langley. This fort was constructed in 1827 by Hudson’s Bay Company. The fort today is a National Historic Site next to the 2,700 population village of Fort Langley. Even better … Fort Langley village is FULL of quaint antique shops; the perfect way for us to spend our day off. We found some old bottles and crucibles.
Auction day began very early in the morning with a preview. Because this police auction takes place every year in Vancouver, the seized and abandoned property was truly reflective of the area. There we many, many outdoor sporting items. Snowboards and skis were abundant as well as tools and small equipment. There were dozens of boxes of high-end designer clothing, new with tags, that had apparently been seized from shoplifters. The electronics available ran from mobile phones to tablets to computers. The type of stuff you would expect to see.
We also saw several boxes of comic books … but they had a newer look to them. We weren’t really interested in that lot. Better though was a bag of comic books that we really couldn’t see into. We could see something, but not much. That was the lot we were interested in! Along with the comic books we wanted to bid on a case of German action figures as well as some of the designer clothing. We hoped we would be able to score on some great items.
The auction was unbelievable! There had to be at least 2,000 buyers in that room! Hundreds of bicycles were on the auction block first. We had never heard an auctioneer speak as fast as this one did. My goodness! We couldn’t tell when one lot ended and another began. Bikes were being sold at the rate of about 5 a minute. And that went on for 3 hours or more! Sally keeps track of the bidding and it took her a good half-hour to catch on to the rhythm and cadence of the auctioneer. Finally we understood what the current bid was, what the auctioneer was calling for and what the final sale price was. Sheesh! This auction was something else!
At the end of the day we were lucky with the comic books and German action figures. The designer clothing was a fiasco but we did get a snowboard for our son, Luke. We loved Vancouver and will take a family trip there another time so that we can visit Vancouver Island and Victoria. We hope to find the house that Laurence’s father was born and raised in until he was 6 and returned to England.
– Sally and Laurence Martin
Vancouver is fantastic and I would recommend traveling to the city. I had some culture shock during my visit. The economy seemed to be different than most US cities right now. It was buzzing, absolutely booming with construction. There were brand new condos and offices being built all around the city. I woke every morning to the sights and sounds of trucks, cranes and laborers. This sounds annoying but it was refreshing. I have not been surrounded by construction like that since 2004 in New York. Vancouver is performing regardless of the global financial meltdown that plagues US headlines. Green energy, electric trolley lines, and an upbeat feeling of success; I couldn’t help but be positive.
This was my setting heading into the largest police seizure auction in Vancouver. The auction is held annually and the locals never know what will turn up. I expected to see outdoor equipment and jewelry but there were a lot of items that I’ve never seen. Two pineapple presses that are great for restaurants, tree climbing spikes and some antique oriental jugs that later sold for $10k+!!!! Over 1000 lots and by noon over 2000 locals swarmed the auction house. It’s at that point I knew I was going to have to fight to buy merchandise.
– Mark Meyer
Miami was wilder than the first time we came … I guess they advertised it a whole lot. I could not believe my eyes when I saw this fantastic bronze among all the lost and unclaimed baggage. This I had to go for, regardless of cost. Most of the folks in Miami are after the jewelry, so I thought maybe it would go under the radar. I always love to bid on baggage because of the unknown factor; I guess it’s the gambler in me. My strategy was to make a deal after the auction with all the baggage that did not sell but unfortunately I ran out of time and money. I did buy one bag and it was a rude awakening to this business of buying baggage at these airport auctions. It was by far the most unsanitary bag in my career. I’m not sure America wants to see that one. They would have to put an X-rating on the show.
– Billy Leroy
Glasgow, Scotland was by far the most mystical place we hit so far. I expected the people to be stuffy like they were in London and they were the complete opposite, very friendly and warm. The quality of the auction was pretty high-end for a police auction. When I saw the military snuff mull, I was drooling. That is exactly the type of thing I collect. It needed repair but that could easily be done in NY for very little money; I really wanted that snuff mull. Of course Laurence was eyeballing it, and I had a bad feeling about getting it at a reasonable price, but I was willing to battle him for it. The highlight of my trip was my daughter Celina coming to visit me from France where she is doing a semester abroad.
– Bill Leroy
Scotland’s auction was one of my favorites. The way the auction lots were separated was very advantageous for a buyer. They had bags full of gold rings, watches, necklaces. It was crowded and difficult to preview the assortment of high end items. Not only is the jewelry valuable because of its precious metal, but it was higher quality than I’ve seen before. The truth of the matter is that European jewelry is far superior in quality and detail. It seems they just take more pride in craftsmanship. Going to another country to buy goods is challenging. I can try to value items in US Dollars, but I’m buying with British pounds. ie: Lot #101 Vintage Guitar. I think I can sell it for $125 US Dollars. GBP to 1 dollar = .62 * 125 = 77.50. So I have to then buy it for under 40 British pounds + auctioneer commissions. It’s easier with a single item like a guitar. Try a bag of 50 watches, valuation, currency swap, profit? Long story short when you’re looking at 500+ lots in 2 hours this can get confusing really quick. The auction was long and we stood start to finish. No doubt this auction wasn’t a walk in the park. Competition was fierce and I fought hard for the lots I won. I’m glad I was able to buy both quality & quantity in Scotland. I got great items and good prices. The whole trip for me was a success and a destination I can foresee traveling back to.
– Mark Meyer