Auction House Social Club — Reflections

A multi-part entry from observations at an auction house. Starts here.



Meeting members of the Auction House Social Club like Black Jack and the many others who contributed to my research at the Columbus Auction has confirmed what my dad’s story about my deaf uncle pointed out to me years ago. These members have taught me that auctions truly are more than a place of financial enterprising. Auctions are “clubs” of social interaction built on a sense of community derived from extended communication and association.

gun1As a result of my research, I also realized that those who attain the high status of member in good standing are not your every day fly-by-night shoppers who are out only for a bargain. No, high status at the AHSC is attained by those of a different breed–a breed of people who are willing to weather the cold or heat of the seasons, willing to spend time as well as money and willing to accept others while sharing a part of themselves. They do it because they enjoy it.

As I reflected on my research, I realized that it was a continuation of a quest for community that began at one of the first auctions I can recall: the sale of my grandfather’s service station where the men lounged near the old potbellied coal stove. I remember the excitement as my cousins and I played hide and seek weaving our way through the crowd while the auctioneer blared out his song. As a child I was exemplifying what now understand: the location of and items at an auction are the fragile strings that bring people together for fellowship and allow the individuals to meld into community. As I told the auctioneer on my last visit to the AHSC, someday I want to return and see this community again-to see Black Jack and the others because I now see them as more than subjects of a study. They are members of a community I’ve tried to understand.


To be continued next week…

Copyright 2001 Michael Shead

All references available: