I’ve just returned from what I think was the biggest cast iron sale of the year, at Simmons Auction! Oh boy, was it an experience!
Pan-Handler founder Mary and I drove down to Richmond, MO from the Twin Cities to attend. The auction was open the previous day for viewing of the lots, but we arrived at 7 am on auction morning to check it all out.
Even though pictures were available online for bidders who couldn’t be there in person, nothing compares to seeing everything up close. Often, pans will have tool marks, scratches or warping that may not be visible in the pictures. We’ll be frank – several of the pans we were initially excited about had wire-wheel marks that reduced both their good looks, and their value, so we had to pass. We wrote about wire wheels and their impact on pans in an earlier blog post you can find here.
There were approximately 750 lots, with many lots covering several pans at once. When we say this was a big cast iron sale, we weren’t kidding!
Mary and I spent two hours going through all the lots to find the nicest stuff, and calculating what would be a reasonable price to pay. We didn’t make it all the way before the bidding began though!
As you can see, it didn’t take me long to start collecting pans. Eventually, they allocated a separate corner of the room just for my pans.
There were some fun pieces too, including a donut maker, the Lodge California Acorn Pan, and a heart & star gem pan. There was even a large cross shaped wafer iron.
Mostly though, there were lots and lots of pans…. baking pans, griddles, waffle irons, dutch ovens. It was cast iron heaven!
Needless to say, there were some serious cast iron collectors there. People had come from all over the country. Whilst some had only a couple of hours drive from within the state, there were others from Minnesota, Indiana, South Carolina, and one couple who had driven all night from Louisiana. Folks were here to bid!
I had met many of these people at the G&CICA National Convention in Springfield, MO back in May, so it felt a bit like a mini-reunion.
Many people ask, what is an auction really LIKE? Well, for starters, it moves fast! They were selling at a rate of approximately 100 lots per hour, which is more than one lot per minute. More than one person got caught up in a conversation and missed bidding on a piece they had their eye on! You really need to pay attention.
Secondly, there are no breaks. The auctioneers rotate in and out, so if you need to step away, you need to time it with a bunch of pieces you don’t want to bid on, and always keep an eye on the screen to see what lot number they’re up to. It’s more than just the auctioneers too, there are “spotters” who each have a side of the room to keep an eye out for bids. You don’t need to throw up your paddle every time, once they know you’re in, they look at you to see if you’re going to bid. All you have to do is nod, waggle your finger, or flutter your eyelashes and they take your bid.
The auctioneer can’t cover the whole room, so they keep track of the price and listen to the spotters’ calls. The spotters also have different styles of call. They yell, hoot and holler in all manner of ways. The first day I had Larry mostly watching me – I could turn my back to him and wiggle my toes to bid, and he’d still see it! The second day I had Mike, who made what sounded like bird calls when calling bids “Yep Yep Yep Yeeeeeaaaahhhhh” “Yep Yep Yep Yeeeeaaaaaahhhhh”
We finished about 500 lots the first day in about 6 hours. We were exhausted, but we weren’t done yet! There was a lot of packing to do, and Mary was inspecting the lots for the following day. It was an early night back at the hotel.
Day 2 had about half the lots of Day 1, but the bidders were looking fierce. There were some rare and beautiful pieces that were on the cards. The item most anticipated was Lot #554, the Favorite Piqua Ware No. 13 Skillet. There were also 2 Griswold No. 13 skillets, one slant logo and one large block logo, a rare Griswold No. 2800 What & Corn Stick Pan, and a rare No. 9 Griswold Gem Pan (pattern number 347, variation 3). Finally, there was a Griswold block logo loaf pan cover. I have to admit, this is what I had my eye on.
By the time Lot #554 came up, the excitement in the room was palpable. These pans are as rare as hens’ teeth, and collectors had sold their grandmothers and were wielding checkbooks! The bidding was epic and jumped over $1,000 very quickly. Once it hit $4,000 there were only two bidders left in the fight. It slowed down, the increments lessened, and it eventually sold to an Indiana collector for $4,900!
It wasn’t long until the other rare items were up, the two Griswold #13 skillets and the 2800 corn stick pan all went for over $1,000. The No. 9 Gem pan sold for $2,000. My budget didn’t stretch to these items, but it was highly entertaining watching other people battle it out.
The auction finished earlier than Day 1, and Mary and I were able to load up the car and head back to the Twin Cities that day. I’m sorry to say that I missed out on the donut maker and the acorn pan.
Did I get anything interesting? Well…..
I brought back 70 pans (including quite a few beautiful ERIE pans), 10 dutch ovens, 10 waffle irons, some griddles, a LOT of lids, and….
……..a very special Griswold loaf pan lid.