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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.