Auction draws lookers, buyers

EAST LIVERPOOL – They came for a variety of reasons, but primarily to find that one-of-a-kind piece of pottery or oddity they don’t yet have in their collections, and they didn’t care too much what it cost to add it to their collections.

The annual East Liverpool High School Alumni Association Pottery Auction Sunday on the lawn of the Alumni Clock Tower drew people from at least 15 states, according to promoter Lillie Aiken.

They came to bid on items provided by 29 co-signers and 10 donors, with auctioneer Lee Hostetter lending his own brand of humor and prodding to get as much money from each item as possible.

After all, it was for a good cause: Proceeds go to the Alumni Association and its scholarship fund.

For Andrea Bradford of Ball Ground, Ga., it was worth the trip: She snagged the No. 1 Fiesta coffee server in the flamingo color she hoped to buy.

“Oh yes, I came specifically for that,” she exclaimed, adding, “I have all but one of the No.1 coffee servers,” all of which she purchased at the annual alumni auction.

The price tag of more than $2,000 didn’t seem to faze the collector, who also purchased other items at the event.

Darlene Rolya, who lives in the Pleasant Heights area of the city, came for the Hall China teapots, saying her family worked in the local potteries and so she collects the pieces.

On Sunday, she was the lucky bidder of a No. 1 Hall teapot and laughingly said, “I’ll leave my collection to my dear friend. She worked at Hall.”

Rolya also picked up a panoramic photo of the city that showed the original Central School and clock tower, as well as the former Chester Bridge that spanned the Ohio River.

A postcard collector, she also was watching for any that caught her eye.

For Maggie Hughes of Mansfield, Pa., a nondescript plastic baggy of colored discs was her deal of the day.

The chips were actually salesmen samples of colors of ware available from the pottery, although which pottery from which they derived was unknown.

Hughes had lost the butterscotch color from her collection of chips and said she might also need the Indian red that was in the bag. The rest she planned to give out to other collectors who might be missing a color or two.

“I’m glad to get them,” she smiled.

While bidding hit into the thousands of dollars on some pieces, the auctioneer found the going tough on others, having to josh and sometimes good-naturedly shame the crowd into upping their antes.

For example, a “very rare” Harker Pottery rolling pin went for just $32.50, and a small pottery basket made from an experimental process at Homer Laughlin China Co. deemed as “very, very rare” fetched a seemingly low $350.

Among the usual popular Fiesta and Hall pieces were scattered a number of other items, and one husband – seemingly new at the pottery auction game – was heard questioning his wife about a purchase and its significance.

“I just liked the way it looked,” she replied.

The final tally wasn’t available Sunday, with officials saying it will take days to finalize figures.