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Liberty Auction celebrates quarter century in business
Auctioneer Matt Mattingly auctions off CD’s as ring men Jimmy Havison shows the crowd what they are bidding on. - photo by Photo by Mindy Boyette

This week Pembroke business-owner Matt Mattingly will celebrate 25 years in the auction business.

One could say auctioneering is in the Mattingly blood. Mattingly, the owner of Liberty Auction, was raised in the business. His father Gene is a licensed auctioneer from Eastlake, Ohio, and has been in the business Mattingly's whole life.

Mattingly and his wife Lori moved their business to Pembroke nine years ago. Previously, they spent just over 15 years in Hinesville growing the auction house. "Business greatly improved when we moved to Pembroke," said Lori, who has run the business side of the auction house for over 20 years. "That is a great compliment to the Pembroke community. Since we moved to our current location our business really took off."

"We are thrilled to have such a successful business as part of our community," said Pembroke Mayor Judy Cook. "Pembroke is a great place to do business. Our central location is convenient to many area cities and towns. We enjoy having Liberty Auction here. They bring all sorts of people to Pembroke whom may not have otherwise come. I would like to personally wish them congratulations on 25 years of success!"

Liberty Auction is located in the Pembroke Industrial Park directly across from the Bryan County Board of Education offices. The auction house holds a household auction every Thursday at 5 p.m.

"We have a huge variety of furniture, appliances, tools, dishes, glassware, collectibles, box lots of misc. items, and more." said Lori. "We are always looking for new consignments."

Any given Thursday night at the Liberty Auction high levels of energy and excitement teems through the air as the circus-like atmosphere generated by Mattingly gets the crowds going. He seems to be speaking an exotic foreign language as he rattles words in a rapid machine gun fire like fashion. The bids and counter bids fly by, then a loud sold finishes each lot.

Mattingly is not the only high energy person on the floor, his excitable helpers, called ring men, gesture wildly with their hands and shouts of "here" and "yes" fill the air as the bids come in. If the bidder is not careful and controlled they may find themselves the new owner of sixteen porcelain gold fish, or a colorful barber shop pole or even a jewel like a 19th century walnut cabinet. So, if you are looking for that different hard to find collectible or even a washer and dryer, Thursday night at Liberty Auction is for you.

Liberty Auction also holds a very popular antique auction the last Saturday of every month. You can expect to see local antique dealers, collectors and even curious average Joes who come out in the hundreds to the Pembroke business for these monthly auctions.

"At our antique auctions you can find great pieces. We have a nice variety of furniture, china, glassware, collectibles, paintings, and more," Lori went on to explain. "Our consignments come from the Savannah area, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Florida and all around. A few months back we auctioned several beautiful pieces from the historic J.O. Bacon house right here in Pembroke."

Auction comes from the root word "auctio" which literally means "increase." The auction business dates back to 500 B.C. when Herodotus reported the use of an auction. These auctions were for the purpose of selling women under the condition that they be married following purchase. The Roman Empire used auctions to liquidate property and estate goods. Modern day auctions in this country are rooted deep in the history of the south. Slaves were sold primarily by auction. This method of selling was also used by the Northern Army Colonels to sell off land after battles. After the Civil War auctions were used to sell surplus army goods and seized goods. The modern day auction is used by businessmen in suits and ties. Auctioneers now have business links to banks, attorneys, accountants, the court system, government agencies and the public. Today, auctions are used to sell property, goods, or just about anything. Auctions have also become a popular way to raise money for charities.

The Mattinglys are no strangers to helping raise money for charity. They are often called on to volunteer auctioneering services to local charities. The So Many Angels benefit auction out of Richmond Hill is just one of several auctions that Mattingly donates his fast paced and friendly skills to. This past fall, Mattingly was the auctioneer for the 10th annual SMA Ball, which included an auction, dinner and dance. Proceeds went to research for a cure or treatment for spinal muscular atrophy. The event raised more than $112,000.

Before carrying on the family auction tradition, Mattingly was in the United States Army. He served 12 years as an Army MP Dog Handler. His last station was Ft. Stewart. The Mattinglys have been married for 10 years and live in Hinesville. They have raised six children; Matt, Cameron, Adam, Erik, Ashley and Emily. The Mattinglys also have two young granddaughters, Gracyn and Emree.

Auctioneer Mattingly is available for private auctions such as estate sales and business liquidations. The Liberty Auction house is always looking for consignments. Consignments are accepted on Monday & Tuesday 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. For more information on the Liberty Auction House, please call 653-5500.

Tips for a successful night at the Auction:

- Liberty Auction will allow you to view their inventory several hours before the auction begins. Arrive early and thoroughly examine the goods. Decide what items you will bid on and make a list. Now is the time to decide an appropriate cap on your bid for each item. This will help you from getting caught up in the moment.

- When you arrive, register with the office to obtain a bidding number. They will need your name, phone number and address. ID is required for all checks and credit card purchases. Your number will be written onto a long, narrow card. This is what you will use to bid with.

- You may reserve a seat by placing a Post-It with your bidding number on it in a chair. Sit close to the front for the best views of each item. If you have arrived early enough, this is now the time to get a bite to eat from the snack bar. Eating before the auction starts will ensure you don’t miss bidding on an item while waiting in line for food.

- When a lot or items you are interested in bidding on comes up for sale, Mattingly will announce the lot number, which is usually labeled on the item on a colorful round sticker the size of quarter. He will then give a brief description. Next, he'll start with a suggested bid. Be careful not to be too eager, bidding sometimes starts below this price.

- Start your bidding at any time after Mattingly has announced the starting bid. Get the auctioneer’s attention by raising your hand or number card. Bids will go up in steps controlled by the auctioneer. Once you have started bidding, the auctioneer will return to you if someone has countered your bid to see if you would like to raise your offer. A simple shake of your head "yes" or "no" will let him know what your intentions are. And don’t worry, you can't bid against yourself. The key is to pay attention. One moment of distraction your item may be sold to someone else.

- If your bid is the final bid, you have purchased the item, and Mattingly will announce the purchased lot number and your bidding number.

When you are ready to go, head to the office windows and pay for your items. Keep in mind that a buyer’s premium (10 percent) plus tax will be added to the final bid. For larger items, you can return the following day and pick them up.

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