The gavel has come down for the final time at Bervie Auctions as the much-loved Aberdeenshire institution held its final sale.
Dave Smith has presided over the venue for 30 years, staging about 750 sales in that time and welcoming countless thousands of bargain hunters.
Scores of regulars marked the end of an era when they packed into the Inverbervie building for one last chance to grab some antiques, curios and collectibles.
One told us he will miss the friendly chat at the regular gatherings, while lamenting the loss of a tradition that is slipping away.
- Would a rare set of Beatles Toby jugs reach Dave’s expectations when they went under the hammer?
- And what other surprises would the evening throw up?
‘It feels like the right time…’
Dave has been involved in the trade his whole life, as his parents David and Marlene ran an auction house in nearby Stonehaven.
The 60-year-old avoids becoming sentimental – but admitted to some mixed feelings as he prepared to part ways with the last lots.
“My father came here in 1990, and I have been here full-time since then,” he told us.
“Of course I have mixed feelings, I’ve really enjoyed it, but I know it has to happen.
“My parents, who own the building, are getting older now and my children aren’t going to take it on.”
Covid to blame for closure?
Staging an average of 25 auctions a year, Dave has overseen about 750 at Bervie.
But crowds have been slow to return since the Covid crisis began.
Dave added: “Things have changed since the pandemic.
“It’s harder to get the goods to sell, and the people have not really come back in the same numbers.
“So the combination of things just means the time is right to move on.”
‘You always end up going home with something you don’t need!’
One regular over the past decade has been Clive Hampshire, founder of the Smile Scotland charity.
Clive often loads his van with various goodies – either for his own collection, or to sell off at his organisation’s Oyne saleroom.
A true collector, he pays Bervie Auctions the ultimate compliment that “you always end up going home with something you don’t need!”
Why Bervie Auctions will be missed
Clive said: “We have bought some fantastic stuff here.
“The great thing about Bervie has been you can buy something for a couple of pounds, or you can buy something for a couple of thousand.
“The place is so small and it’s not on the internet, so there’s always a bargain to be found. ”
Clive added: “I think it’s a shame Dave is retiring, it has been a great place.
“It will be sadly missed, but life moves on…”
What was on offer in historic final Bervie Auctions sale?
A staggering 800 Toby jugs were among the lots going under the hammer, along with historic violins, an ancient archery set, a crate of boxing magazines from the 1970s and even a dusty cuckoo clock.
Those, and hundreds of other bits and bobs.
‘I love rummaging’
Dave was beaming as the sale ended, the takings surpassing his expectations.
He said: “I always tell people, I have made a living from my hobby.
“I love rummaging through stuff.”
Think The Rock and Vin Diesel are Fast and Furious? They have nothing on Bervie Auctions
P&J reporter Ben Hendry marked the occasion by taking part in his first auction, and found out why it means so much to people…
I’d never been to an auction before, the closest I’ve come is daytime TV shows starring David Dickinson.
Having spoken to Dave as he prepared for the final night, I decided to stick around and see what it was like.
Moving around the room inspecting the eclectic menagerie of the weird and wonderful, I overheard several visitors having hushed exchanges about the sudden demise of the business.
“Last ever sale, eh” in a tone of disbelief.
There must have been nearly 100 people there by the time it got started, some eyeing up the lots and others seated on second-hand sofas and armchairs facing the lectern.
The first lot was a box of Christmas wrapping paper – which went for £10.
Things move at a frenetic pace: £8 for a set of bowls, an artificial bay tree for £20, a slow cooker goes for £14 before I’ve managed to decide if I want it.
Dave is like a conductor before an orchestra of bargain hunters, his eyes darting about the room as bids come in thick and fast.
He can’t hide his astonishment when he has to lower the starting price for four large tyres to £10.
At this point I begin to worry that if I adjust my facemask I may accidentally end up paying £100 for a Winston Churchill Toby jug.
My determination to bag a bargain
Soaking up the atmosphere, though, I start itching to get something.
A box of staples doesn’t tempt me, nor does something called a “paper jogger” – a machine that stacks and lines up sheets of disordered paper.
Even Dave thinks it’s “an unusual thing”.
I miss out on some boxes of records, regretting not going for the case of 45″ singles which fetches £18.
A round of applause breaks out for the star sale of the night – a Victorian violin which two collectors battle for until one eventually secures it for £800.
After flicking through the old boxing magazines (with headlines such as ‘JOE FRAZIER: CLAY’S JAB GONE, I’LL KO HIM!’) I decide to make my move.
There’s a Captain Hook Toby jug that looks pretty nice (your opinion may vary) so I wait for it to come up. My limit is £30.
The bidding starts at £16, increasing in increments of £2 until it reaches £28… Which proves to be my winning bid!
I can see why folk enjoy this so much.
New wife’s ultimatum: ‘It’s me or the Toby jugs!’
While queuing to pay for Hook, whose handle is a crocodile, I bump into its former owner.
Inverurie’s Kenneth Lawie, 48, amassed all 800 which were sold having started buying them when he was 15.
He got married last year, and his wife didn’t share his passion for them. They had to go.
Kenneth said: “I just liked the look of them and that’s the thing with collecting… Once you get started you can’t stop.”
Another visitor, Quentin Leven from Brechin, told me what he will miss about Bervie Auctions.
He said: “Dave is always very honest, and it’s a friendly place.
“You always get a chat, and it’s a nice atmosphere.
“These friendly family salerooms are a dying breed. It used to be most towns had one…”
That sense of community is one of the few things in the room you can’t put a price on.
I Want to Hold Your Handle…
And those Beatles Toby jugs?
Clive, the Smile Scotland founder, got them for £300 and took them home to go with the signed Fab Four photograph he got at Bervie Auctions a few years ago!
The porcelain pop stars were the final items to be sold.
And with that final thump of the gavel, 30 years of memories came to an end. Not with a whimper, but a bang.
Here we have a further look back on Bervie Auctions with a dozen of its most colourful sales over the years: