News / USA

Small Town's Big Auction Draws Hundreds Along US East Coast

Hidden treasures turn up at Crumpton, Maryland warehouse

Auction customers Max Bovis (left), John Raccuglia (center) and Brooke Logan browse items at the Crumpton Auction in Maryland.
Auction customers Max Bovis (left), John Raccuglia (center) and Brooke Logan browse items at the Crumpton Auction in Maryland.

Multimedia

Audio

The search for a bargain and the hope for an unrecognized treasure draws hundreds of people to a tiny East Coast town each week.

Every Wednesday, they descend upon a cavernous warehouse in Crumpton, Maryland, wandering past rows of long tables where they're liable to find everything from fedora hats to fishing rods and china vases to corner cupboards. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Crumpton Auction.

“You always see something that you’ve never seen before - every week,” says Dylan Dixon, 24, who oversees the buying and selling, making sure everything runs smoothly at the Crumpton Auction. He’s the third generation of his family to work here. "I’ve sold paintings that were laying in a field next to pots and pans, that no one had any idea that it had any value, and sold for $10,000, $12,000 dollars.”

An auctioneer tries to draw the best price at a recent Crumpton auction.
An auctioneer tries to draw the best price at a recent Crumpton auction.

While numerous auctions are held up and down the East Coast, Crumpton holds a special place on the auction circuit. Geographically, it's the middle ground and furniture dealers, especially, appreciate its Mid-Atlantic location, which is convenient for buyers stretching from New England to the southern states.

Most of the merchandise - up to 4,000 items on a busy day - comes from estates, houses being cleared when families move or someone dies.

While in good condition, the pieces up for auction here are not high-end like the antiques and art sold in well known auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s, but that's part of the appeal to Dixon’s customers.

“I bought a statue of Madonna for $325 dollars and a couple bits of jewelry,” says John Raccuglia, who frequently makes the hour-and-a-half trip from his home in Baltimore. “I’m here to sell as well as buy. I do estate work. It's various things from dishes to little pieces of furniture, you name it.”

Antique dealers, collectors, designers, inn keepers and curiosity seekers come  to check out the offerings.

Maryland antique dealer Brooke Logan browses a table crowded with lamps and vases. “I’m here looking for a good deal. I’ve already bought a painting that I’m pleased with. I buy a lot of art here actually. There’s a lot of good art that comes through here, so you just have to keep your eye out. I kind of have a lamp fetish. I’ve bought a lot of lamps and I buy a lot of ceramics.”

Depending on the size of the crowd and the number of items, up to three auctioneers work at the same time. On sunny days, the action moves outdoors onto two fields, two hectares each. Auctioneers ride up and down the rows of merchandise in golf carts - stopping and selling.

Frequent customer Raccuglia knows the system well. "It’s not like you know you’re going to pay one price for anything. It’s whatever happens, happens. You always have to keep on your toes here because the auctioneer sells so quickly.”

Max Bovis, who works for a bike dealer, is on the look-out for old bicycles. “We come out here and pick up used bikes and work on them, fix them up, add some parts, take some parts away, and sell them. We’ve got a couple wood-rimmed bikes we bought, 1890’s wood-rimmed bikes.”

Bovis also is fond of records. “I collect vinyl records and kind of archive them, as well as listen to them. I’ve found some really unique things out here, a lot of signed records show up in weird boxes.”

Another popular feature at the Crumpton Auction is the food. An Amish family from Lancaster, Pennsylvania drives two hours each week to sell home-made cakes, pies and doughnuts.

The rainy weather seems to have put a damper on today's auction, which is quieter than usual, with fewer buyers and sellers. With the economic downturn and the higher cost of gasoline, the auction’s owner - 75-year-old Norman Dixon - says making money in this business is getting harder.

“The expenses are all going up but your margin of profit is not going up. It’s more expensive for dealers to drive trailers longer distances. When things were booming, they came from Georgia to Maine. We’re losing some of those.”

But there are some frequent customers who continue to turn up. Melinda Lippincott, who lives nearby and has furnished her family’s new home with several pieces from Dixon’s, says there’s a certain charm at this auction.

"It’s just kind of like you’re stepping back in time when you’re here. It’s a nice feeling.”

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More