Score some vintage treasures
Weyauwega’s auction scene
By James Card
“Get five, get five, seven and a half, ten now, twelve and a half, fifteen dollars, twenty dollars, five, five, thirty dollars, thirty-two and a half, get thirty-five, get seven and a half, go forty dollars, go forty dollars, forty dollar, sold!”
Bidder No. 129 just purchased a U.S. Army roasting pan for $40. It was made of heavy aluminum and was the size of a small suitcase.
The exact same item is listed online in the $100 price range.
This is one of many sweet scores that people can get in Weyauwega’s busy auction scene.
Two auction houses in Weyauwega provide warm indoor bargain-hunting entertainment throughout the winter.
Liebe Auction Service, on 105 Pine St, holds auctions at 5 p.m. every Wednesday.
Gallery 10, just outside of town on E6142 County Trunk X, hosts auctions at 9 a.m. every Sunday.
Steve Liebe presides over the auction from behind a countertop and above it a wood-shingle roof façade that gives the place a down-home look. Next to him is a clerk who records the sales.
Ringmen (and ring women) in red shirts help Liebe keep the auction flowing at a fast efficient pace.
“We’ve been practicing for years,” Liebe said. The job of a ringman is to help the auctioneer spot bids, display or describe the items to be auctioned and answer questions from the bidders.
At auctions with large crowds they are the ones that holler “Yep!” which signals to the auctioneer a bid has been acknowledged.
Liebe has seating for 150 attendees. It is relatively easy for him to spot the bids in the crowds.
They also sometimes move outside at the start of the auction to sell boats, trailers and cars.
This is done early on to take advantage to what little daylight there is during the winter months.
Increase of estate sales
Ted Radtke launched Gallery 10 in 2018 as full-time enterprise. He has previous experience working in auctions and he teamed up with his cousin, Travis Radtke, who previously has an auction company where he did on-site sales.
At a recent auction they had a big offering of highly collectible stoneware: Red Wing jugs, sauerkraut crocks and butter churns that drew a lot of interest.
“I don’t want to say we specialize in anything because we do a lot of estates for people and whatever they have is what we sell. Sometimes we get some really good ones and sometimes you get what you get,” said Radtke.
Travis Radtke, wearing a cowboy hat, calls out the numbers he is looking to get for an item. Next to him are some tables where the ringman places the next item in line.
Both auction houses have a similar layout of seating in the middle of the room and the majority of the goods to be auctioned are displayed on tables and shelves on both sides of the room.
Bidding and payment at both places is simple and streamlined. At the registration desk, provide a driver’s license and phone number and you will be given a paper with a number. Hold up your card on an item you want to buy and if you win the bidding war, your number is recorded for that item or lot.
The ring man will bring the item over to you and you pay for it at the registration desk before leaving.
All items must be removed from the premises at the end of the auction; however, they make accommodations for oversized items to be picked up the next day such as something that needs to be hauled off in a trailer.
Business has been brisk for both auction houses with auctions steadily scheduled every week. “Over the last year or so houses have be selling pretty fast so it’s been busy—either estate sales or people moving out of the area,” said Liebe. It’s the same for Radtke who said his main focus has been on estate sales.
Each business has an online photo gallery of the goods to be auctioned off that is posted in advance.
If a person cannot attend, then one can leave a proxy bid before the auction and the ring man will bid on behalf of the absent buyer.
These places are worth a visit at least once for historical appreciation as itis like stepping into something that is a cross between a community clubhouse and a small-town museum.
Both Radtke and Liebe have collected an enormous array of Weyauwega memorabilia from days long past. Old signs adorn the walls and oddball artifacts are showcased in displays.
Both auction houses have food and beverages for sale. At Gallery 10, it is provided by the Weyauwega-Fremont High School music booster club.