On July 15, I attended an auction in Atlantic, PA. Atlantic is a very small town (pop. 77) located in Amish country in Northwestern Pennsylvania. This was a charity auction and was very well attended, with nearly a thousand people in attendance. Most of the action took place in the large barn pictured above, but there was an outdoor tent sent up as well where farm equipment, animals, and even logs were auctioned. Being in the middle of Amish country, run by an Amish auctioneer, and benefitting a local Amish community charity, it is no surprise that something like 80% of attendees were Amish. And this fact may account for the rather unusual way in which this auction was run.
Bidders did not register ahead of time or obtain bidder numbers. No one recorded your name or even your bid if you won a lot. Instead, you were expected to use cards provided to track your own purchases and then pay as you left. Payment was made simply by dropping your cash or check into one of several boxes set up around the auction grounds for that purpose. As the auctioneer said as he explained all this at the beginning of the auction, "(the audience) look like an honest crowd, so we'll let you pay what you owe." All of the items had been donated and it was a charity auction, so there were no owners who needed to get paid. I have been to Amish "yard sales" where careful records were kept about whose items sold for what so that the money could be fairly distributed at the end of the day. So it's not that the Amish don't care about money. Instead, it is clear that they place a very high value on honesty and fairness and so can trust one another. To see that kind of trust and respect and faith in one's fellow human was certainly a breath of fresh air.
Items auctioned ranged from fresh beans and potatoes to chainsaws (one of which sold to a young Amish man sitting in front of me for $1,000) to case clocks to quits, such as the one depicted above. The quilt lots were sprinkled in throughout the indoor portion of the auction and each was hung in turn for all to see. This one sold for $400, a good price for the quilts sold on this day. Upon sale, items were delivered directly to the person who bought them. Action was lively and the auctioneers moved quickly from lot to lot. I moved throughout the grounds of the auction to inspect upcoming lots and found a couple of interesting options. Below, you see a pile of logs marked for auction. I did not actually stick around for this part of the day, so I can't say whether they went one at a time for one money for the whole pile. (Most likely, one bid what one was willing to pay per log and then took as many as one wanted, thus requiring several rounds to dispose of all the logs.)
One of the best parts of this auction was the food! The community provided a generous supply of burgers, BBQ chicken, hot dogs, fruit, salads, bread, drinks, and, of course, donuts and ice cream. The Amish are a hard-working people and do not shy away from eating well! I indulged in an incredible donut (putting even Krispy Kreme to shame) and took home a loaf of country white bread that was about the best loaf of bread I've ever had.
This case clock (not so tall) sold for $700.