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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech 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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs