Since the store’s opening in 1994, Material Culture has been accumulating treasures from around the world and assisting its owners in selling them, in good conscience, to eager buyers throughout the world.
Typically the store, located on Wissahickon Avenue in East Falls, holds about one catalog auction and one annex auction each month, and the deadline for consignments for its next estate auction is quickly approaching. By Aug. 12, all items to be sold must be considered before they can be approved for the sale. The auction will be held on Sept. 23.
“We are interested in featuring objects from around the world including ethnographic art, antiques, collectibles, decorative arts, antiquities, carpets as well as period and modern furnishings,” says store owner George Jevremovic, “We sell fine art including prints, paintings, drawings and sculpture as well as ‘outsider’ art.”
‘Outsider’ art, however, could be loosely used to describe the majority of what comes through Material Culture because of just how unique and rare many of the items are. The auction’s aim is to gather novelties that will have a widespread demand for buyers throughout the world.
While the live auction that takes place on the second floor of the store building attracts mostly local bidders who come to preview the sale, there is also a live auction happening simultaneously online through liveauctioneers.com.
In order to make the items accessible to such a far-reaching audience, an online auctioneer operates from a computer and handles the bids that come through internationally. The operator then alerts the in-store auctioneer of the in-coming bids.
“The turnout varies with each auction,” says Jevremovic,” Typically there are hundreds of online bidders from all of the United States and from more than 20 countries worldwide.”
Part of their practice is also to keep an open mind about what sort of items they will take from sellers when it comes to antiques, art and collectibles, and really the only sure-fire ways to get shot down is if an item has a very low chance of selling or if there are unrealistic payoff expectations. It also helps, particularly in the international sales, if items are more lightweight and practical so that shipping costs don’t overwhelm the buyer’s budget. Still they stress that there really are no set rules and all items must be considered individually.
The buyer’s premium is 22 percent, but how much the auction house takes for commission varies.
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By October they will be opening a cafe on the store premises, but in the meantime enjoy light refreshments while scoping out the merchandise.
“In terms of the auction, people in the community need access to liquidity,” say Jevremovic, “Our auctions can provide that.”