Shared from the 12/9/2016 Antiques and The Arts Weekly eEdition

Auction Action in Williston, Vt. Steenburgh/Bittner’s Third Sale—

On Cool Day For Country Auction, Good ‘Merch’ Warms The Crowd

WILLISTON, VT. — Josh Steenburgh of Haverhill, N.H., and Brian Bittner of Burlington, Vt., joined for their third auction on October 22. The unreserved auction was conducted outdoors underneath a distant cousin of a circus tent. Wide green and white stripes provided the auctiongoers with a semi-dry place to make their bids. Highly hung lights shone down on the wares being sold. The temperature high for the day was a cool 45 degrees with a steady stream of rain throughout the entire sale. Hats, earmuffs, winter jackets and blankets were not uncommon sights.


The Touchon 18K gold pocket watch brought $1,550.


An exterior view of the tent during the auction.

The auction started promptly at 10 am. Bittner opened with a delightful welcome to all of the attendees and warmly introduced the team supporting the sale — seasoned auction supporter Mary Steenburgh of Mary & Josh Steenburgh Antiques, the highly efficient and organized team of receipt writers and bidder number handerouters Lisa Locke-Simonds of New Hampshire and Mary Bittner of Chester, Vt. Also crucial to the team were the essential runners — seasoned floor manager Bruce Simonds, practiced auction runner and antiques seller Cecelia Steenburgh and long-time friend and supporter of Bittner, Tyler Lanksowski. New to the team was Lori Scotnicki, who provided a keen eye, insight and a passion for antiques that helped the sale to succeed. Bittner’s partner Rhiannon Kim of Burlington handled the absentee bids.

More than 100 registered bidders attended the auction and the overall auction attendance was estimated at around 200 people. Berda’s Roadside Eatery provided auctiongoers with perfect food for a chilly fall day: chili, breakfast sandwiches, locally sourced burgers, coffee and more. Their popularity drew in some of their regular customers, who simply had to have their Berda’s fix.

Following Bittner’s opening, Steenburgh outlined the terms of the sale and quickly began selling lots of sterling silver, including Gorham and Tiffany. A selected variety of jewelry was quickly brought to the floor, with many pieces fiercely competed for among numerous bidders. A wide range of postcards were sold, as well as other miscellaneous ephemera. Country primitives came and went into the hands of buyers for resale or to decorate their homes.

A highlight of the sale was the estate’s 82-inch narwhal tusk. The Phelps family acquired the tusk in the 1940s. Steenburgh called the sale as Bittner supported the team in lining up the phone bids. There were no bids from the floor. One phone bidder opened at $3,000 and the other bidders began their battle for the esteemed treasure. The final sale price was $7,150, including buyer’s premium.


This Danish enamel silver spoon was bid to $200.


Fetching $1,450 was a pair of Edwardian-style onyx bracelets.

The sale also featured a variety of antique and vintage clothing, a collection of stoneware, various textiles, artwork, books, furniture, a John Deere Tractor and various other yard tools. Reminiscent of Jack Bittner’s sales, this sale also included a wide-range of antique tools, including chisels, planes, draw knives and more.

The sale moved very efficiently, thanks to Steenburgh, who is skilled and practiced in the art of auctioneering. He kept the crowd engaged, shared his breadth of antiques knowledge and was diligent in his calling. Nearing 500 lots, the sale ended at 1:30 pm.


It was relatively dry under the tent, although hats, earmuffs, winter jackets and blankets were not uncommon sights.

Bittner took the stage and called the last portion of the sale, which included a fun walk-about with the last group of auctiongoers, including some newcomers who arrived long after the excitement and action of the silver, jewelry and tusk sales. A widely assorted hodgepodge was sold under the tent and in the garage during the walkabout.

It is with high hopes that Steenburgh and Bittner continue their partnership in the auction business. Each brings an ethical and honest approach to the business. Their sales run smoothly, efficiently and they offer a refreshing bit of humor, laughter and kindness to the business.

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