Going Once! Going Twice! Going… for the First Time?

The Enlightened Auction-Goer: The top local sales, first-timer strategies, and how to turn your junk into someone else’s treasure.

The Best Local Auctions
Our seven favorites—including one to keep in your pocket for July.

BROOKLINE AUCTION GALLERY At this flea market dealer’s mecca about an hour’s drive north, funky finds range from Tiffany silver and vintage cookie jars to antique license plates. Recent sales include a 19th-century oyster bucket for $1,000 and a Lionel model trolley for $11,000. 1/3, 32 Procter Hill Rd. (Rte. 130), Brookline, NH, 603-673-4474, brooklineauctiongallery.com.

GROGAN & COMPANY Owned by a Sotheby’s graduate and Oriental-carpet expert, this refined house is known for seasonal estate sales that occasionally set records. Among the precious icons are more-affordable goodies, like a French marble mantel clock for under $300. Fine Oriental rug and carpet sale, 1/12, 22 Harris St., Dedham, 781-461-9500, groganco.com.

KAMINSKI AUCTIONS A diverse set of North Shore arts and antiques dealers, collectors, and retail buyers keeps prices reasonable for a tony selection of antiques, rare books, jewelry, and art culled from distinguished New England estates. 1/31–2/1, both at Woodman’s of Essex, 121 Main St., Essex; Kaminski Auctions, 978-927-2223, kaminskiauctions.com.

South Shore auction hounds frequent this weekly sale, which specializes in unloading whole house contents, from rugs, antiques, and porcelain to choice knickknacks. 1/7, 1/14, 1/21, and 1/28, 476 S. Franklin St., Holbrook, 781-767-5255, kelleyauctions.net.

SKINNER’S DISCOVERY Objects that don’t fit into Skinner’s main auctions (or didn’t sell there) go out to Bolton for a once-a-month two-day sale. Sample wares: rare books, gilded mirrors, Limoges china, Victorian furniture. 1/21–1/22, 357 Main St., Bolton, 978-779-6241, skinnerinc.com.

TENT SALES Most newspapers list ad hoc estate auctions in their classifieds section. Usually held in a tent on the front lawn, these sales attract a motley mix of dealers, neighbors, and curiosity seekers, keeping prices the lowest around. But they rarely have a preview; you’ll have to just show up. For weekly listings, check out auctionzip.com.

DECOYS UNLIMITED This annual specialty sale draws the world’s most serious collectors of decoys and carved birds—and is such a staff favorite we couldn’t resist mentioning it now. If paying $48,300 for a carved Chipman plover makes perfect sense to you, don’t miss it. 7/12–7/14 at the Cape Codder Resort and Spa, 1225 Iyannough Rd., Hyannis; Decoys Unlimited, 508-362-2766, decoysunlimitedinc.com.


IMPRESSIVE BILL: Carved in the early 1900s, this pintail drake went for $69,000 at a Decoys Unlimited auction.