A Question of Value: Stories from the Life of an Auctioneer

A Question of Value: Stories from the Life of an Auctioneer

by Robert Brunk
A Question of Value: Stories from the Life of an Auctioneer

A Question of Value: Stories from the Life of an Auctioneer

by Robert Brunk


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In the late 1970s, Robert Brunk discovered the world of auctioneering. Drawn to the unique mountain culture and the history of fine art in and around Asheville, North Carolina, Bob started a business, Brunk Auctions, that became part of a bustling network of commerce. America's passion for collecting, buying, and selling reached remarkable heights in the following decades. Auction houses and antiques stores thrived; people paid hundreds of dollars for a humble country basket and thousands for a rare piece of folk art.

In this collection of compelling, compassionate essays, Bob considers specific items and remarkable situations he encountered in his long and successful work as an auctioneer and appraiser. He presents objects as invitations to consider personal and collective histories often related to unresolved social inequities. Bob also describes how, as his business grew to offer the finest examples of American and European art, his career often conflicted with his Mennonite background and the complexities of ownership and value. The result is a portrait that reflects the best and worst of us as we search for ways to live with objects—and then decide what to do when it's time to let them go.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469678092
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 02/13/2024
Pages: 204
Sales rank: 246,918
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Robert Brunk's writing has been widely published and listed as Notable in Best American Essays. He is the founder of Brunk Auctions in Asheville, NC.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Robert Brunk's remarkable story of the creation of his regional auction house in Asheville, North Carolina, is a testament to his hard work, intelligence, perseverance, and integrity. This is a fascinating read!"—William W. Stahl Jr., vice chairman of Sotheby's Decorative Arts, North America (retired)

Bob Brunk's essays, like the auction business he chronicles, bring fresh life to old artifacts. In fact, his reminiscences made me see objects anew: as the guardians of secrets and stories. This is a book for the unconscious collector in each of us."—Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian and The Shadow Land

This clever and inventive book is as much an affirmation of humanism as it is a question of value. I look forward eagerly to a second volume."—William Underwood Eiland, director emeritus, Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia

A Chinese vase found at a yard sale sells for $1.2 million in Asheville and then $7.4 million in Hong Kong. That's the headline. Want the details? An emotional thrill ride for antique lovers, Bob Brunk's essay collection tells this story and those of thirty other fine objects."—Pete Prunkl, Maine Antique Digest

One of the most entertaining stories I've read about the search for fine antiques. Readers will laugh in amazement as Brunk discovers incredible objects and encounters fascinating people. I already want a second volume of his adventures."—Bradford Rauschenberg, emeritus director, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts

I trusted Mr. Brunk from the first sentence to the last. Kind, compassionate, and willing to preserve his own moments of human failure, he doesn't make himself the center of the book—an extremely rare and valuable trait in a book of personal essays."—Marjorie Sandor, author of The Late Interiors: A Life under Construction

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