Needle cases: Hiding in plain sight
  • Losing out on an oversized stuffed elephant
  • Windsor chairs, tiger coffee table & more spark bids
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    Auction Finds

    A tiger hiding in plain sight

    The worker was taking a break in the cool recesses of the furniture pieces laid out on the ramp at the auction house. I almost missed him as I headed to check out the rows of box lots on the ground just beyond.

    He startled me at first. I didn’t expect to see anyone stretched out on the furniture. That never happened at any of the other auction houses I normally go to, but this was a new one in South Jersey, so maybe the rules were different.

    This was also a preview day, and only a handful of auction-goers were sorting through the boxes or eyeing the furniture. With so little traffic, I guess he figured that he could slip outside unnoticed and find a relaxing spot to nap. It was one of the cooler days in a week that had been as hot as an old black cast-iron stove.

    As the man lay there, I couldn’t see behind him, so I didn’t notice the Bengal tiger. I charged ahead to the items on the ground, taking my time as I looked over a knight’s armor, patio chairs, wooden stools, pictures, and boxes and boxes of stuff that I wasn’t too keen on plying through. They didn’t look inviting, and besides most seemed to contain household goods that I had little interest in.

    On my way back inside, I saw the animal, with its green eyes staring at me – at least it felt that way – and its caramel coat clean and untattered. It was a big stuffed tiger that seemed to be as long as I was tall, but was likely no more than three to four feet long. The worker had been lying on its head, and furniture had hidden the rest of its body.

    I wondered whose house it had lived in. Did it belong to the children who tussled with it or some adults who got cozy on it in front of a fire?

    It’s not too often that I come across large stuffed animals at auction. The last one was a Hansa elephant about two months ago. The animal was huge: 72″ long and 45″ tall, sold by FAO Schwartz in the 1960s. It went for $110.

    Would the tiger be so lucky? I didn’t check to see who the manufacturer was but I suspected that an animal with a pedigree similar to the elephant’s wouldn’t be tossed among the furniture and used as a pillow for a weary worker.

    The tiger lay there, partially hidden, as if it were in its natural habitat. And there it still laid on auction day, when one of the swarm of workers – there seemed to be a lot them compared to the other auctions I attended– hoisted it above his left shoulder and walked it over to the spot where it was to go to the highest bidder. The man carried it as if the stuffed animal was a child’s toy, light.

    The tiger wasn’t much of a hit. There was no heavy bidding like the one for the elephant. It sold for $12.50.

    Maybe it could’ve fetched more if some children had caught sight of it in his hiding place.

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