Things You Probably Didn’t Know You Could Buy at an Auction

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There’s a good chance that, if something can be sold, it has been bought and sold at an auction before. Many items have passed through auction houses, and one of the biggest draws of auctions is that you never know what you’ll find. While most auctions will feature fairly mundane articles, maybe with a handful of curiosities, every so often something far out of the ordinary will show up. Here are just a few examples of the stranger things you didn’t know you could buy at an auction.

  1. Used Government Specialty Vehicles: Your tax dollars have paid for them, and they’ve served your community well, but fire engines, trash trucks, and more will all eventually have to be rotated out and replaced with new vehicles. The good news is, if you’ve got the use for them, you can often buy them from an auction for incredibly low amounts, sometimes only hundreds of dollars for a fully-functioning vehicle. Be aware that you’re buying a vehicle with heavy mileage on it and heavy use.
  2. Anything You Want to Fulfill Your Celebrity Crush: Anything that can be associated with a celebrity is bound to fetch good money at auction. It’s the provenance of the objects that matter, not so much the objects themselves. This can run the gamut from the common, like Michael Jackson’s red leather jacket, to the slightly creepy, like Madonna’s custom shoe molds. For every famous person out there, there’s something on the market – one of the oddest celebrity listings in recent times was a chest X-ray of Marilyn Monroe, which went for $45,000.
  3. Skeletons: Sure, if you want to be conservative, you can go for a human skeleton – they’re hitting the auction block on a surprisingly regular basis. There are plenty of other skeletons that will pop up over time, whether they are cast-offs from museums or re-listings from collectors. These can range from dinosaurs, to elephants, and pretty much any other member of the animal kingdom. You can buy them put together as a whole, in boxes, or even just particular bones depending on the whims of the seller.
  4. Taxidermied Animals: While we’re on the subject of dead animals, they are also available at auction in the stuffed and posed form. You don’t have to go and hunt down a anther and have it stuffed to display it in your hunting lodge – just keep an eye out as collectors and museums offload their older examples or make room for different stuffed beasts.
  5. Body Parts: It’s doubtful that you’ll find a spare limb lying around at auction, but it’s not uncommon to see body parts of the famous come up for auction on a regular basis. This can range from the seemingly normal, such as locks of hair and false or regular teeth, to the much more outrageous – at one point in time, Napolean Bonaparte’s phallus made an appearance on the auction block.
  6. Murderabilia: Some of the most controversial and stomach-turning goods you can find on the block are those that have either belonged to murderers in the past, have been created by murderers, or are otherwise related to their actions. Artwork, recordings, weaponry, and vehicles have all made it to the block. Of course, which such an odd area of concentration, there are stranger items making appearances and making big money – the famed hoodie and sunglasses worn by the Unabomber went for over $20,000 at auction, while the coffin of Lee Harvey Oswald went for nearly $90,000.
  7. Historical Artifacts: Museums aren’t always just given the objects they have on hand, they often have to purchase them. Sometimes, those museums will have to auction off historical artifacts to make room for, or make funds for, further artifacts they may want to buy. Flags from famous battles, documents from political figures, weaponry, Native American artifacts, clothing, and more will regularly be up for auction. The best times to find these items are when a smaller museum gets liquidated.
  8. Booze: We’re not talking about a bottle of whiskey that has been gathering dust in your liquor cabinet for a few years. That’s not worth anything really, but it might be a good idea to go ahead and finish it off. However, every so often a rare find can make its way to market. This can range from 200-year old champagne, to beer or wine recovered from shipwrecks, to rare liquors that are released in limit runs from year to year.

All sorts of weird and wonderful things will pop up on an auction block throughout the year, limited only by the imagination of people and the willingness of the auctioneer to try and auction them off. Many of these items are unlikely to show up at estate auctions, although you may get lucky at times. Most often, these will be found at themed auctions held by auction houses, or at liquidation sales. So keep your eyes peeled, you never know when you’ll stumble across a valuable oddity that you never thought you’d see at an auction.


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