Auction attracts collectors, curious

Photos by Matthew Busch/The Herald
Auctioneer Ken Fuhrman of Jasper, right, held up a pair of boots for Herb Burke of Celestine, left, to see as Fuhrman eyed the crowd surrounding him and took bids during Jasper’s city auction at the street department Saturday. Burke did not buy the boots but did purchase a pair of jumper cables. On the auctioning block were items belonging to city departments that no longer used them as well as items that had been sitting in lost-and-found bins or had never been claimed.

Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — Hilbert Mullen of Ferdinand made his way into the Jasper Street Department for the city’s auction Saturday morning with his father-in-law, Hubert Goepfrich.

This was their first stop, their first auction of the day. The City of Jasper’s auction, Mullen figured, would have some items that he was looking for. After all, he said, he had good luck when he came to the last one a couple of years ago.

“This is what I’m after,” Mullen said, eyeing 20 bicycles in a line sitting to the side for potential buyers to see. “I have two granddaughters, 13 and 11. They’re wanting to get bigger bikes.”

The group included all kinds of bikes in all sizes; a Schwinn bike sat in the middle. Because it was a name brand, Mullen pretty much knew he wouldn’t be getting that one. “A person would be lucky to get that for $50?” he said. But he did spy two bikes he thought were in his price range.

The city was auctioning dozens of items. Some of the merchandise belonged to city departments that no longer used them. A lot in the stash had been sitting in lost-and-found bins or had been recovered by police officers and never claimed by the owners.

More than 100 numbered bid cards were assigned. But many bidders had spouses, children and parents with them. At least 250 people roamed the street department’s main garage looking at the available goods, which brought in $9,221 for city coffers.

Tom Royer of Jasper was on a mission to buy as much music he could. Along with a jacket for his daughter and a radio receiver, he purchased at least four CD notebooks that were filled with wide variety of CDs. Each time he got a winning bid for a set of CDs, he yelled, “Rock ”˜n’ roll!” and gave the universal rock music sign with his fingers.

He passed the cases to his adult son Travis who took them over to his mom, Sue, to peruse while Royer continued to bid. Later in the morning, after all the CDs were spoken for, Travis told his dad about some of the cool CDs in the cases. “We can crank it,” Travis said.

“Yeah!” Royer said back, giving Travis a high-five.

While waiting for the bikes, Mullen bought a guitar. “Now I gotta learn how to play,” he said with a laugh.

Auctioneer Ken Fuhrman of Jasper, left, looked for potential bidders for a watch up for grabs at a city auction at the Jasper Street Department on Saturday.

He hadn’t planned to buy a guitar. But when he saw it on the table, he thought it would be fun to learn. And he has a son-in-law who plays and could teach him. “I’m getting close to retirement,” he said. “It will be something interesting to do.”

Auctioneers Dan Hoffman and Pat Mullen shared the bulk of the bidding duties while auctioneer Ken Fuhrman watched the crowd to make sure people’s bids were noticed. Therefore, people had to be careful of their hand movements when the bidding was going on. During a bidding round for a motorcycle helmet, one man moved his hand and Hoffman pointed to him. “Five, five dollars,” he spoke into his mic, then looked at the man again. “Did you say five?”

“No, I was on the phone,” the man responded. The helmet ended up going for $2.

Jerry Traylor of Otwell bought about 20 light fixtures and dozens of fluorescent bulbs for $50. He didn’t have a solid plan for what he was going to do with all of the fixtures. “I’ll go through them and see what’s usable to me and then get rid of the rest somehow,” he said.

He likes going to auctions, even if he doesn’t purchase anything. “It’s kind of a hobby I picked up five, six years ago,” he said. “I go to one every week — Dinky’s, farm sales. I go see what’s there and visit people I see there that I know. I’ve gone as far as Evansville.”

Hilbert Mullen said that he and his father-in-law “bounce from one auction to another.” Their Saturday was planned as such. After the auction in Jasper, the duo was going to one in Haysville.

Items were as cheap as $1 and $2. Most ranged between $5 and $30. Several were in the $40 or $50 range.

Several people bid on a radio-controlled Jeep. Larry Taylor of Jasper won it, paying $75 for the toy that was still in its original box.

“This was a steal,” he said. “They’re like $200, $250.”

He was interested in the toy for two reasons. “I have a Jeep just like this one,” Taylor said of his own vehicle. “I think my grandkids would like this. I might just keep it at the house for when they come over.”

Another popular item was a women’s Rolex watch, which had lots of bidders. It eventually sold for $900. They buyer claimed his property and quickly put it in his car for safekeeping.

Bids on the bikes also climbed. Hoffman explained that a winning bidder could have his choice of bicycles at that price. Mullen stood by but didn’t bid. He was biding his time.

The bids climbed to the first winning bid of $100. The woman who made the bid took the Schwinn. The next bid was $75. Then $25, then $20. Mullen still wasn’t bidding. Some of the winning bidders took two bikes.

When the fifth and sixth rounds of bidding brought the price down to $15, Mullen placed a bid and won. He grabbed two bikes, one aqua and the other purple, paying $30 for the set. “I got ’em. I got the ones I was looking at,” he said gleefully as he rolled the two bikes to his truck. “I’ll have to paint one and oil the chain. So they’ll have to wait a little while for these.”

After finishing with the items inside the building, the crowd moved outside to bid on a items that were too big to lay in the garage — road equipment, pallets, storage containers, fencing, light poles, a golf cart and two Army truck cabs.

Todd Holman of Bristow bought a salt spreader for $150. He calls himself a hobby farmer and already envisioned how he would use the contraption. “I’m gonna use it to spread fertilizer and lime,” he said. “I’ll put it on the back on my farm truck. It should work. I think.”

Gale Schaeffer of Santa Claus bought one of the two truck cabs  — a 1967 model for $700. “I wasn’t here looking for it,” he said. “I was just here. But I could use those tires. Who knows what I’ll do with the rest. Maybe I’ll use it for parts. Or maybe I’ll keep it all together.”

The second truck, a 1968 model, went for $900.

Traylor bought three spools of swimming pool lane dividers that were from the Jasper Municipal Pool. Again, he really wanted only part of it.

“I just wanted the frames they’re on,” he said. “I’ll look at the rest to see if I can use it for anything.”

He had a lot of things to go through when he got home. By the time the three-hour auction ended, his pickup was full of his purchases.

Contact Candy Neal at

More on