Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Going once, going twice, SOLD!

By a stroke of luck, I was browsing some blogs Tuesday night and found out about an auction being held the following day of items from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection. The Brooklyn Museum had decided last year to integrate their collection into the Costume Collection at the Met, and thus items that were perceived as duplicates or not valuable to the collection were set to be auctioned. I was totally unaware that the Brooklyn Museum even had a costume collection! According to the NY Times, the collection was considered one of the best in the world, but had not been on view in more than a decade, and the cost of maintaining the collection had become too great.

I had the afternoon free (well, there were probably better things I could have been doing) so decided to go check it out, especially as there were some absolutely stunning items that I just wanted to look at and be lucky enough to see in person.

Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection auction

Sadly because I am lazy I did not get there in time for the preview, wherein I could have tried on some of these amazing vintage dresses. Fortunately the company running the auction, August Auctions, had a catalog online of many of the items very well photographed.


I got there just as the auctions were getting underway and got my paddle (my first real live auction! Much more exhilarating than ebay!) and took a seat. The audience was filled with many professional vintage dealers as well as other enthousiasts like Lyn Yaeger. The first hour or so was vintage textiles, many of which were hundreds of years old... very very beautiful items, but not really something I was interested in for myself. You would not believe how much money some of these things went for! A confederate flag went for something like $10,000. As soon as I heard some of these figures people were bidding I knew I was in a little over my head, but I hoped maybe I would get lucky somewhere down the line once they started on the clothing, especially on the non-designer stuff.

I came close, a couple of times. I nearly won this beautiful 30's beaded dress for $175, but then someone went to $200 and I was out. It sold for $200.

I'm most bummed about the two following auctions... one was a lot that I did not bid on which was a lot of 4 vintage kimonos that went for $100... I almost bid but the gavel came down too fast. Bargain! The other one was a lot that I did bid on and lost, for two Zandra Rhodes dresses. Zandra Rhodes was a famous British designer in the 70's and her stuff, as I understand it, is very hard to find. I went up to $200 but was outbid, and I think they went for $250. In retrospect, I only wanted the black one for myself, and probably could have sold the blue one for the price of these two combined. But that's the thing with the live auction, its all over in the blink of an eye and there's no time to hesitate. I've never been much of a gambler so as soon as stuff got over $200 I started to shy away.

Overall, there was a bargain here and there (a 60's Pierre Cardin pantsuit went for $90), but most everything else went for obscene, obscene amounts of money. Still it was tons of fun and a great way to see some amazing historical pieces. I highly recommend checking out the auction galleries from the Augusta site. There's also a few, not that great photos on my Flickr.


Rachel said...

The shorter blue dress in your second pic is SO super cute!! What fun!

Rachel said...

i know i wanted that one so bad!

jesse.anne.o said...

That black dress is adorable. Even though you didn't win anything, it looks like it was a fun experience. I also didn't know BAM had a costume collection.

M said...

that short black one is beautiful it seems worth the $250 it went for, at least this was practice for your next auction

Vivi Vintage said...

Wow. This sounds like it was an amazing auction!
Be sure to check out some of the vintage on