I assume I was not the only collector who watched the major auctions in NYC in January. The difference between Sotheby’s Americana auction and. Christie’s was night and day and a casebook study of how not to, and how to sell American antiques.

At Sotheby’s the auctioneers read the item description and then asked for bids. They appeared to know nothing about the pieces they were auctioning off. They made no comments about rarity, how special a piece was. They could have been selling any commodity under the sun. Perhaps that is the way they saw it. If I was the consignor for the Santore auction I would have been very disappointed. Sotheby’s should be embarrassed, and some heads should roll. The auctioneers exhibited a conceit that was unbecoming, hubris if you will.

At Christie’s John Hayes, the auctioneer knew what the pieces were. He exhibited a warmth and connection to the antiques that was heartening. Don’t get me wrong, I dislike auctioneers who exhibit too much schmaltz, gushing over piece after piece. At Christie’s a nice balance was exhibited. Good for them.

What do you think?

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