Auctioneer of the Year Award
A lifetime of selling earns area auctioneer highest state honor Auctioneer of the Year Award
By Jon Stevens, Staff writer
WAYNESBURG – Jim Clayton has been engaged in one of the world’s oldest professions for more than 40 years. No, it’s not the oldest profession, but it’s not far behind.
Clayton, 61, of Kennel Road, Waynesburg, has been auctioneering since he was 19, practicing a form of salesmanship that dates to 500 B.C. when Herodotus, a Greek historian, wrote about the auctioning of women to serve as wives.
While Clayton’s auctions don’t quite rival those of Herodotusor or Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor who sold family furniture at auctions to satisfy debts, they have, nevertheless, caught the attention…
Greene County man wins state Auctioneer of the Year Award
By Dave Zuchowski
For the Herald-Standard
Greene County resident James A. Clayton got interested in auctions when his father and grandfather took him along, at the age of 10 or 11, to the colorful sales made up of bidders and fast-talking auctioneers. He must have been impressed, because in 1965 he got his apprentice license that allowed him to learn the ins and outs of the trade from the pros.
Two years later, he joined their ranks by passing the state test for auctioneers. “You have to know an awful lot about auction law, math and real estate to pass the state exam,” he said.
“Fortunately, I passed the first time I took it. Nowadays, the exam is very difficult to pass, even for some who attend the two approved auction schools in the state, Harrisburg Area Community College and Reading Community College. A lot of people don’t pass the exam on their first try,” said Clayton, 61.
Although some auctioneers make a living with full-time work, Clayton was only 20 when
he passed the exam.
As a newlywed and family breadwinner, he wanted to have a steady paycheck.
So, he became a part-time auctioneer and a full-time histology technician at what now is the Southwest Regional Medical Center in Waynesburg.
Next month, he’ll celebrate his 42nd anniversary on the job in which he prepares “anything removed from a patient during surgery for review by the hospital pathologist.”
As a part-time auctioneer, he’s been actively involved in the trade for 41 years. Since 1985, he’s run an auction house in a Dry Tavern school building, selling mostly household goods, tools and antiques with some real estate and on-site sales thrown in from time to time. Although he’s listed in the yellow pages, advertises in the local newspapers, posts flyers and utilizes the Internet, a lot of his business is word of mouth.
“Everyone seems pleased with my services,” he said. “I start my monthly Saturday auction at 4 p.m. and send the checks out to the consignees on Monday.”
Depending on how much inventory he picks up from sellers in his 16-foot trailer, his
Saturday auctions are held once a month, more often if the flow of goods allows it.
Over the years, the most expensive item he’s sold at auction besides real estate and
farm equipment was an 8-gallon, antique crock made in Greensboro that went for $18,000.
A few weeks ago, a Hepplewhite chest of drawers brought $3,400 at one of his auctions.
Prior to that, a hall seat with a built in clock got the bids up to $4,050.
“As an auctioneer, it helps to know a lot about antiques,” he said. “When you’ve been in it as long as I have, you can’t help but learn all sorts of things.”
On Jan. 13, Clayton’s years of service earned him the highest award from his peers – the Auctioneer of the Year Award granted by the Pennsylvania Auctioneers Association.
The award was presented to him at the state auctioneers convention banquet at the Harrisburg Wyndham Hotel. The convention is held annually in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
Each year, the six chapters of the state’s auctioneers association nominate someone from their ranks who’s promoted auctioneering as a means of selling and who meets the association’s professional and ethical standards. From this pool of nominees, the directors of the six chapters pick each year’s winner.
“Winning the award came as a total surprise to me at the banquet,” said Clayton. “Like the other nominees, I didn’t even know I’d been considered for the award.”
Clayton said he is thankful for receiving the prestigious prize – a large wooden plaque with a brass insert – that he keeps in his office at his home.
Other than a second-place showing in the bid-calling competition in 1986, held at the State Farm Show, the Auctioneer of the Year award is the only one he’s taken home over the years.
In his lengthy career, Clayton has served in all the offices of the Pennsylvania Auctioneers Association, including president in 2003. Currently, he’s pack representative of the 11-county Southwest region.
Clayton resides on a 40-acre, non-working farm near Waynesburg. His son, Jason, a state trooper, and daughter, Joyce, a registered nurse, live nearby. He’s the grandfather of four.
“It’s funny,” he said. “In high school, I took an aptitude test whose results indicated that I’d be fit to be an auctioneer. Looks like they were pretty right on that one.”