Discover Vintage America — March 2012

First timers’ guide to live auctions

by Rhiannon Ross

Have you ever wanted to bid at a live auction but feared that by merely scratching your nose, you’d walk out with an expensive monstrosity that you wouldn’t want even if it were free?

This is a common but unfounded fear, says Jason Roske, auctioneer and owner of The KC Auction Company, in Kansas City, MO.

“It has happened where someone waved at friends and I thought they were bidding on something but they weren’t,” he says. “But that’s rare.”

Roske adds that, in this case, the person wouldn’t be stuck with merchandise they didn’t want.

“If we take an extra bid, we offer the item up again,” he says.

Charles Keller, an appraiser, researcher and writer at Dirk Soulis Auctions, in Lone Jack, MO, says the auction process isn’t as intimidating as it may seem.


“Auctioneers are aware of new faces in the crowd and they notice timid bidding habits,” he says. “Most auctioneers are very forgiving in the live bidding process, so there’s really no reason to be intimidated.” Roske recommends newbies witness a live auction once or twice without the pressure of bidding.

“It’s not your typical sales environment. But it’s lots of fun. Think of it like going to a dinner party for the first time or a flea market bazaar in a foreign country. You may feel uncomfortable at first but you’ll get the hang of it after trying it a few times. The trick is to be open to a new experience,” he says.  

One benefit of purchasing items at auction is that you can score great deals on retail merchandise, as well as antiques.

“Antique dealers often purchase furniture at auctions for resale and you can save by buying directly at auction,” Roske says. “If you can look past someone else’s taste in upholstery or make it wonderful with wood polish, you can end up adding unique items in your home at prices that can’t be touched in antique shops or resale shops.”

Attending an auction is also a great social experience, Roske adds.

“People develop long-term friendships, sometimes over 20 or 30 years,” he says. “There’s food for sale. People come and make an evening out of it.”

Decoupage artist and Discover design writer, Durwin Rice, often attends auctions. He recently purchased two, matching small sofas that were once in the lobby of the historic Rafael Hotel in Kansas City, MO, for $225 each (valued, he says, at $1,500 each). After having them professionally cleaned, they now sit nestled in front of his fireplace.

“Auctions are the baccarat table not only for quality goods, both high- and low-end, but if the stars are in your oven, you can really score big,” he says. “You never know what might come up and you might be the semi-expert in the room on an item and get it for next-to-nothing. There’s a certain synergy that happens at auctions that works for both the seller and buyer that you don’t get at an antique showroom.”

Beth Ann Brubaker, Kansas City, MO, says she enjoys attending auctions not only for the great bargains but because it also provides her a glimpse into people’s lives.

“Especially at full estate auctions, it’s so interesting to see what people collect,” she says. “It’s fascinating to see what is sometimes a whole lifetime of treasures.”

Rhiannon Ross can be reached at



Here’s how a live auction typically works:


Dirk Soulis Auctions, 529 West Lone Jack, Lee’s Summit Road, Lone Jack, MO 64070; 816-697-3830,

The KC Auction Company, Jason Roske, auctioneer and owner, 1106 Santa Fe, Kansas City, MO 64101, 816-283-3633,

KCPT Appraisal Fair

Bring up to three items for evaluation and appraisal to Kansas City Public Television’s Appraisal Fair, Saturday, April 21, 2012, at the Overland Park Convention Center, 6000 College Blvd., Overland Park, KS. Auctioneer Jason Roske will be one of the show hosts. For more information, visit

Antiques the subject of new reality show

The National Geographic Channel will host a new, 10-episode reality series on antiques in America’s Lost Treasures,” beginning Monday, March 5. Kansas City’s historic Union Station and Missouri Town, along with auctioneer Jason Roske, will be featured in one of the shows. Played like a game show, participants could be eligible for a $10,000 award and inclusion in a future National Geographic exhibit. For more information, visit

International Society of Appraisers


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