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SJAA Annual Auction A Stellar Success

Dan Wright

From top to bottom: Kevin Medlock was our auctioneer extraordinaire; sellers prepared their equipment; pictures and posters generated ooo's and ahh's; Jim Van Nuland had this all down to a science. Photos courtesy of Dan Wright and Paul Kohlmiller.


Our annual Auction and Swap Meet on April 4, 2004 was a great success. A wide variety of valuable items traded hands, substantial funds were raised for the club, and the affair proceeded smoothly and was a pleasure to attend.

Mike Koop and other volunteers worked Saturday until midnight preparing and setting up. Sunday morning saw Jim Van Nuland and Gary Mitchell sitting bright-eyed behind the registration desk ready to handle any complexity. The public milled around tables covered with glittering eyepieces, CCD cameras, finder scopes, tube rings, books, posters, software, framed prints, etc. Scopes and mounts of many types stood assembled in rows waiting their turn on the auction block.

President Koop called the room to order, and auctioneer Kevin Medlock asked who in the audience felt ready to begin bidding. Karin Sunseri's dog spoke up from the back with an enthusiastic "Bark!", and after a hearty round of laughter we were off to the races.

The Auctioneer carried himself from item to item with the comfortable and assured manner of a master craftsman, knowing and appreciating everything he saw. Having examined an item briefly, he would sum up its specifications and attributes, then with a crafty smile he would build a positive spin on it, continuing until even the most humble used telescope seemed newly blessed with virtues (including "cuteness").

He introduced quick humor into the dialog and motivated the audience to respond in kind. When he remarked that an object's poster image looked much better, for some reason, than his scope ever showed the object, a person called out, "then you need the Meade 6" achromat!" (a scope that hadn't sold a moment before). When someone requested that Kevin read an item's small print "for us old guys", Kevin began squinting indecisively at it himself. If anyone got into a bidding war he would suggest they take their duel outside ("counter-weights at twenty paces"). Several people succeeded in getting a general laugh from the room. Humor, and the smart pace Kevin set, allowed the time to pass comfortably.

The first item auctioned was a large framed print of astrophotographer Robert Gendler's gorgeous Orion Deep-field Panorama ("). Robert donated the royalties and Sky Image Labs produced the print for SJAA's benefit.

This year John Gleason's "Astro Photo Surprise" went to high-bidding Bob Czerwinski, who kindly agreed to open the tube and reveal the treasure inside: a stunning photo of the North American Nebula. There was a nice round of applause for the photo, and for Bob's sharing it.

Several organizations and individuals made generous donations, for which SJAA is very grateful. In particular:

Sam Sweiss and Scope City:OIII and H-Beta filters, posters, software, calendars, etc. $473
John Hatta: books $123
Sky Image Labs: framed prints $445
John Gleason: Astro Photo Surprise! $120
Darwin Poulos: C-90 $90

After the auction, Kevin accepted a round of applause and a framed image of the Hubble Deep-field (donated by Sky Image Labs) as a thank you. An orderly line formed at the check-out desk, and people began unpacking for the swap meet. Tables were soon covered with goods of all description, and vendors and individuals bartered and haggled. I purchased two 30mm Plossels from Earth and Sky Adventures, and discovered later with some delight that these show fine high-contrast views in my binoviewers.

Check-out at the registration desk went thusly: JVN used his tried-and-true dot matrix to produce your printout, whereon was faithfully listed all items you had bought or sold, and one bottom-line figure for settling up with SJAA - what you owed or what they owed you. If they owed, you could get Treasurer Gary's autograph on a check from SJAA. Next you proceeded to the claim table where President Koop handed over your newly-purchased items. It was all done without delay and with very few glitches.

Overall, 101 items were offered for auction (89 unique), of which 83 were sold. 80 buyers and sellers registered, of which 44 actually bought or sold. Auction sales totaled $4561, and the net for SJAA was $1630. In addition, our Treasurer reported $196 from the swap meet and $33 from soda sales, plus some small donations, for a grand total of $1870.

SJAA hereby thanks all who donated and who bought and sold, with special thanks to those whose hard work made the event run so well.


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