Estate auction in ’61 brought sizable crowd, plenty of bargains (with photos)
An old car, cast iron kettles, quilts and gilt-framed pictures — they had all been important to Henry Van Derzee.
But Van Derzee no longer needed worldly possessions. The West Glenville resident had passed away on April 2, 1961, at age 85.
Surviving family members decided to conduct a cash-and-carry sale to clear clutter inside the house. That’s what brought auctioneer Stanley Orzolek to Potter Road on Saturday, July 1, 1961.
Dozens of people showed up for bids and bargains. Their cars and trucks stretched for one mile on both sides of Potter, visitors all wanted a spot on the grass when Stanley began his vocals at 1 p.m. The old farmhouse was full; Henry and his late wife had moved into the place in 1900.
Orzolek, who smoked a pipe and wore a lightweight jacket during part of the sale, had a sense of humor. “What am I bid for this handsome sugar bowl and cream pitcher?” he asked the assembly, showing off a chipped wash basin and a companion water container.
Everything goes . . . almost
Tools were the biggest draw. Henry had been a carpenter during his working days, and boxes of woodworking aides covered part of the yard. Tables and chairs were popular. So was the 1927 Ford pick-up truck that was still in good running condition. It sold for $355.
“Everything went, even boxes tied with string or rope that were bought unopened for one or two dollars,” wrote Schenectady Gazette reporter Larry Hart, who covered the event with photographer Sid Brown. “They may have contained preserves, old newspapers or mail-order catalogs — only the bidder would know.”
Louis Van Derzee stood in a corner of the yard and watched people leave with one-time family treasures. He told Hart he wanted to sell his parents’ home, too. But bidders came in too low.
“We just didn’t get a high enough price for the old house,” he said.