Auction Houses & The Auction Experience Last Updated 4/16

Ready to experience a Connecticut auction? You’ve scoped out the merchandise and have your eye on an 18th century highboy, but the intrigue doesn’t show on your face. You give the same nonchalant attention to a few other items, and then take your seat. The auctioneer’s booming, rapid-paced chant begins and paddles with numbers are raised at quick intervals all over the room. You feel the excitement of raising your bidding paddle and find there is nothing quite like the thrill of the auctioneer singling you out, pausing, and proclaiming “Sold!”

Connecticut Auction Houses

Auctions today are more accessible than ever and auctions in Connecticut are entertaining, fun and a great place to shop. Are you a first-time auction goer? Give it a try. A the very least, you will be enormously entertained, you will expand your antiquing repertoire and you may even come away with something special and memorable.

There are auction houses all over Connecticut – from Litchfield Hills to Fairfield County to River Valley and beyond – that hold live auctions weekly, monthly or every other month and feature merchandise from fine antiques and art to estate jewelry, paintings, silver, books, rugs, collectibles and much more.  Often, merchandise comes across the auction block from an estate, which means it is coming back into circulation after years in a private home or collection.  If, for example, you are in the market for a dining room set or a sofa, shopping at auction can be a good alternative to buying new. Antiques and furniture made many years ago are known for high quality, fine craftsmanship and durability. So, whether you are buying or selling, auction is an option definitely worth exploring.

Although the merchandise sold at auction is typically old, the auction process itself is anything but. These days at a live auction, you will find all types of bidding including in-person, online, phone-in and even absentee bidding. And depending on the auction house, the online activity can include bids from around the world. You can even watch some auctions in real time online.

Connecticut auction houses range from large and sophisticated to smaller, “mom and pop” businesses, with many of them offering appraisal services. Some establishments will catalog merchandise online to allow consumers to peruse the auction items beforehand. And some will open their doors in advance to offer a “preview” of merchandise, so it is possible to walk around and examine the items up close. Auctions are fast-paced – the more you know going in, the better prepared you will be.

River Valley/Greater Hartford

Jump-start your week with a lively auction in the towns and communities that comprise the River Valley region. Every Monday night, Nest Egg Auctions in Berlin holds live auctions including phone and absentee bidding open to the public. This family-owned auction house features online photography galleries, where you are likely to find furniture, coins, paintings, sterling silver, clocks, estate jewelry and collectibles. With more than 30 years in the business, the distinguished Winter Associates Auctioneers & Appraisers in Plainville can guide you in estate liquidation services and personal property appraisal. The auction gallery specializes in estates, antiques to mid-century, paintings, fine art, sculpture and porcelain and sells more than 25,000 pieces a year. For an auction experience filled with country charm, try the Canton Barn located in Canton, where the specialty is Victorian and Colonial era antiques – and homemade pies – at weekly auctions that take place in an 1820s barn. At the auction barn, you will feel like family. A pillow is even placed on a chair to reserve your space.

Litchfield Hills

The northwest hills of Litchfield County is a celebrated destination for antiquing, dining and unwinding in a naturally beautiful, refined setting. If you are a collector of fine art and antiques, you will want to visit Litchfield County Auctions in Litchfield where you can bid on fresh-to-the-market property from estates and collections. Buyers, sellers and consignors are all welcome. Try your hand at an auction in the heart of the Woodbury antiques community at Woodbury Auction, LLC, the auction services division of Thomas Schwenke Inc. antiques gallery in Woodbury. Featuring antiques, fine arts and decorative arts, this auction house provides personal service to both buyers and sellers. For a unique auction experience in Danbury, go to New England Auction Co. & Workshop No. One Interior Design Center, where you will find estate auctions and interior design services. Offerings include fine and antique home furnishings, fabrics, wall coverings, art and decorative arts.

Mystic Country

Take a soothing, picturesque drive through Mystic Country, from the famous coastline to the casino region to the more northern scenic country where you can pause for antiquing and visits to historic sites. In Jewett City, since 1982 Leone’s Auctioneers & Appraisers has been helping antique enthusiasts find their treasures by offering specialty and estate auctions. Traveling south to Waterford, at Russ Antiques & Auctions, you can see what is new to the market in antiques and fine and decorative arts from estates inventory.

Greater New Haven

Try antiquing in Greater New Haven and sense the buzz and energy of its coastal Connecticut communities. If you are an art aficionado, you will want to see what is offered at Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers in Milford, which specializes in American and European paintings from the 19th and early 20th centuries. For a selection of antiques, fine art and decorative objects, see what entices you at Joseph Kabe Estate Auctions, also in Milford. Operating for more than 30 years, Joseph Kabe Estate Auctions handles single pieces or entire estates and offers appraisals.

Fairfield County

Fairfield County is a blend of city and country life, complete with upscale shopping and dining, visual and performing arts, and plenty of chic options for rest and relaxation. Attend an auction at Fairfield Auction in Monroe, to bid on antiques, furniture, decorative arts and fine arts, or simply to take in the evening’s activities. Looking for fresh inventory from Fairfield County estates? You are likely to find it at Greenwich Auction, Stamford, a full-service auction house that offers an online catalog and Internet bidding.

Tips for Auction Newcomers

  • Be Prepared: Research merchandise online or go to an auction preview to review the items for sale before the auction. You will learn what is available in advance, and their condition and value, so your bidding is more informed.  
  • Ask Questions: Be sure to engage the auction house staff with your questions about the merchandise. It can be the best way to gather information before you bid.
  • Know Your Budget: The action at auctions can be up-tempo, so decide in advance how high you are willing to go on any item.
  • Register in Advance: Register for an auction in advance.  That way you will have your bidding paddle and a seat so you will not miss any of the action.
  • Final Sale: Items purchased at auction are final sale. So, be sure to know as much as you can about the items that interest you and what you’re comfortable bidding for them. Auction houses typically represent a client whose merchandise is being auctioned, so once an item sells, it’s considered sold.