Mistletoe Auctions 2014

The mistletoe lots laid out ready for the auction
The mistletoe lots laid out ready for the auction

The second of Tenbury Wells’ traditional three mistletoe auctions took place earlier today. At a new venue this year – Burford House Garden Store, just down the road from Tenbury itself.

A refreshing change from the uninspiring windswept sites that have hosted the auctions in recent years – so well done to auctioneer Nick Champion getting the site agreed and to Burford House for allowing it.

I just wish auction2014GV2Nick would signpost the sales as Mistletoe Sales – as mistletoe is what they’re best-known for – he seems to have a never-ending supply of ‘Holly Sales’ signs he always uses instead. Perhaps he got them cheap, or perhaps it’s simply that Holly is a shorter word and easier to put on a road sign.

Auction underway - the scrum around the lines of mistletoe lots
Auction underway – the scrum around the lines of mistletoe lots

The downside, for Tenbury itself, is that the venue (like other recent ones) offers little chance of extra footfall in town. Despite the auction being crowded Tenbury town was eerily quiet when I dropped in at lunchtime. In the ‘old days’ (less than 10 years ago) when the auctions were in town at the old cattle market site the town would be heaving with people on mistletoe sales days. All the more need for the Mistletoe Festival to attract people into town – and the big day for that this year is next Saturday (6th Dec). For details click here.

But back to the sales. There was a convincingly high number of mistletoe lots this week, which always seems good, and more, I’m told, than last week. All of it very well berried. Some variable quality in presentation, as always, but that’s what makes the auctions so interesting – the variation in the lots and the appearance/condition of mistletoe involved, that you can study (if that’s your thing – it works for me!) as you wander up and down the rows of lots prior to the sales beginning.

As usual there were lots of photographers, and the location is rather more photogenic than previous years – with the lots laid out on the orchard-style lawn on the north side of Burford House. Though with low sun in the south there were no chances for long shots with the house in frame.

A buyer wheeling his wins to his van...
A buyer wheeling his wins to his van…
Another buyer wheeling his wins to his van...
Another buyer wheeling his wins to his van…

Who buys all this mistletoe? Where does it all go?

I spotted several London buyers and also regulars like Nick from mail-order agents intermistletoe in Suffolk, plus Julian Wotsisname from Pershore, and that chap from the Shropshire Wildlife Trust buying for their shop, and, er, lots of completely anonymous people.

To get some feel for who they were, and how far they came, I did a quick trip round the car-park looking for branded vehicles. Not many of them – though a lot of unmarked vans, 4x4s and trailers. Here are some of the branded ones:

That small sample suggests they still come from all over the country to buy Tenbury mistletoe – so that tradition seems fairly secure.

Interested in prices? Prices seemed fairly high today, though that’s only going by what you can hear of the bidding, and it’s difficult to relate that to what’s on the ground sometimes. If you want full stats on prices etc you can download auction reports from Nick Champion’s website here. Last week’s report is here: http://www.nickchampion.co.uk/site/assets/files/1163/nick_champion_holly_sale_report_-_25_nov_14.docx

EMShopWant to know more about mistletoe? Visit the Mistletoe Directory page for links to mistletoe information, and to sites where you can buy grow-kits, books and cards…