A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published March 16th 2014
Waiting for the Hammer to Fall
Auctions are great fun! If you've never been to one, give it a try. There are bargains to be had, as well as many interesting and unusual items. It's an adrenaline rush to be in the thick of the bidding, and exciting if you are successful in the process.
Young's Auctions is a bit of an institution in Melbourne's inner east, having been in existence since 1930. A third-generation family business, Ian and David Young are Directors, Auctioneers and Valuers, and maintain a direct involvement in running the business.
Unlike many other auction houses, Young's holds a weekly auction - every Friday at 9.30am (with a few weeks' break over the Christmas/New Year period). The logistics in sourcing and collecting stock, cataloguing every item and having it ready for a weekly auction is, I'm sure, a mammoth task. And yet, the auctions I've seen have always been effectively and professionally run. The catalogue of auction items is available online, generally by Wednesday each week.
Finishing time for the auctions depends on how many items Young's receive, but it's not unusual for them to continue on until around 3.30 - 4.00pm. On the day I visited, there were over 800 items to be sold; again, impressive for a weekly event. If it all gets too much, fortunately there is no shortage of nearby cafes to recharge the batteries.
Young's accepts a wide range of items for auction, which can make for interesting foraging for those looking for unusual items at very reasonable prices. The week I popped in, there were items as diverse as two brass fire hose nozzles, an antique typewriter with original wooden case, and an assortment of Australian pre-decimal banknotes. But you might also find power tools, whitegoods, furniture or jewellery amongst many other things.
Antique typewriter in original wooden box - one of the auction items
If you're interested in buying, you will need to register and get a bidder number. It costs $50 (cash) to register, but this is fully refundable if you don't buy anything. It's worth noting that there is a 15% 'buyer's premium' on top of the hammer price. In other words, you will end up paying 15% more than your successful bid at auction.
Young's also accepts items to sell. They can collect items to sell from your premises, and are happy to look at house lots and give advice on what's saleable. They charge a 16% commission, with a minimum of $10 per lot.
Limited edition art sculpture of an eagle's head with inset eagle figure - an auction item
It's fair to say that you are unlikely to make at auction the amount you would have if you'd sold an item privately. But there is the convenience of being able to hand over an item and have someone else deal with the process of selling it, as opposed to having to wait around for potential buyers if you sold an item on Gumtree, for instance.
Young's is located near Camberwell Junction, almost directly opposite the Rivoli Cinema. The popularity of the auctions means Young's will be on the move in 2015. They will be in new premises, with a larger showroom and offices, by June 2015.
Hand painted clown - auction item
And finally, here are five rules to help you successfully buy at auction:
1. Make sure you view the available items in advance of the auction and decide what interests you - don't buy on impulse on the day (online catalogues and absentee bidding mean you don't even need to go to the auction house),
2. Always set yourself a limit for an item and don't exceed it,
3. With auctions like Young's, you need to get in quickly with your bid. With so many items to get through, the auctioneers set a cracking pace. He who hesitates is lost.
4. Having said to move quickly in bidding, you need to bear in mind that the auctioneers will generally start at a higher price than they're expecting bidding will open at. So it's worth waiting to see if the auctioneer does drop the starting price, which they generally will if no bids are received.
5. Do some checks to make sure you ARE getting what you THINK you're getting. (Young's has a one week guarantee post-purchase on electrical goods, and a two week guarantee on artwork, watches and jewellery over $1000 (hammer price).)