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An interview with professional auctioneer David Palmer
3 Mins

An interview with auctioneer David Palmer

Helen Marvel
Helen Marvel

David Palmer is a freelance auctioneer with well over 30 years experience in the auction world, having sold across a huge spectrum of auctions.

We recently chatted to David to find out about his life in the industry... 

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m usually up around 5.30am to set off to wherever I’m auctioning that day. I leave early just to make sure I get there in time. Once I arrive, I view the sale, have lunch, then generally spend a couple of hours auctioneering before setting off home to bed before starting the whole process again the next day.

What are the best and worst things about being an auctioneer?

There’s no worst thing, it’s great fun! I just turn up, talk and count – of which I can do neither as I’m heavily dyslexic, so this presents a major problem for me. I have developed strategies to cope, such as missing out all the big words in an item’s description and just saying what it actually is. That is the only downside.

The best parts are messing about, chatting to people and having a bit of fun. Humour is a great thing and I’m there to entertain myself, and if I’m enjoying it, hopefully people will be too and will get bidding.

How did you get to where you are In your career?

My father told me once I finished school that I’d have to get a job if I wanted to stay at home, so I took a boring role and am a fully qualified technical illustrator. I knew I didn’t want to do an office-based job though and saw an advert for a porter and it’s just gone from there. I’m now purely a freelance auctioneer, I travel around and shout at people for a living. I’m not trained in any fashion, although one of the companies I worked for did send me on courses in London at Sloane Square, but I met a girl, went for a few drinks with her and never went back! I’m self-taught and used to spend a lot of time watching auctioneers sell horses, as I was born in Newmarket, so that was a good grounding for me.

If you’re interested in becoming an auctioneer, you’ve got to be prepared to work at any hour of the day and be able to ignore the comments people make about you. It’s a constant learning curve and I am still learning now. The game has changed since I started, as online is the place to be these days and you don’t have an audience to play off. Don’t be politically incorrect as you’re being listened to and probably recorded but go for it and develop your own style. The best auctioneers I’ve seen have been people with an interest in acting and stand-up comedy.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t an auctioneer?

My aim would be to be a professional spectator, just randomly watching events unfold, but I suppose I’m a frustrated artist, unfortunately I can’t get what is in my head out onto the canvas so gave that up.

Tell us about a few of your favourite items you have sold

It doesn’t quite work like that for me – it’s not the item that makes the selling of that thing a favourite, it’s if I’ve pushed it beyond where the bidding would naturally have gone. If you have two people fighting for something, that’s the excitement. It’s the response I get that does it for me.

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