Series: Auction Kings

From left to right: Jon, Paul, Delfino, Cindy.

Auction Kings is a reality TV show from the Discovery Channel which began airing in 2010. It follows the auction house Gallery 63 and several of its employees through a week of collecting strange pieces and then selling them at the end of the episode. Think of Pawn Stars, but in an auction house. The cast includes:

Main Cast:

Extras:
  • Bob Brown - Paul's father. Owns his own auction house, which specializes in antique furniture. Often brings pieces to Gallery 63 to sell that are too strange for his shop.
  • Elijah Brown - Paul's son (and thus Bob's grandson). Occasionally seen helping out during the auctions. Has a A Day in the Limelight episode, where he learns about the auction business.
  • Steve and Ernie Garrett - Independent pickers from Michigan. They often pick up pieces that Paul has noticed a demand for and then bring them to Gallery 63 to sell.

Experts:
  • Charles - Expert on foreign antiques.
  • Dr. Lori Expert brought in typically for historical pieces (except documents) and for pieces where the other experts wouldn't help.
  • Jamie Breese - Expert in British artifacts. Has appraised everything from a revolutionary war cannon to a Rolls Royce.
  • Kenneth - Expert on historical documents and books.
  • Steven - Season 1's firearms expert.
  • Sue - Paul's sister. Expert in antique furniture.

This series provides examples of:

  • Alleged Car: While every car Paul sells does run, he once sold a Rolls Royce that went very cheap, because of its poor condition.
  • Auction: Of course. The actual auction happens at the end of each episode. The rest of the episode is spent gathering and appraising pieces.
  • Artistic License Economics: The Garrett brothers in particular seem to have no problem buying a couple hundred dollars worth of stuff in Michigan and then driving it all the way to Atlanta, Georgia to sell it. Even when they make a profit, the transit costs and auction fees would eat up much of the profit.
    • Shown Their Work: A poster on the now-defunct Discovery Channel forums did the math. Presumably, they either sell many more pieces than the show tells us about, or Discovery pays them.
    • Sellers almost never take the auction house's cut into account when talking about how much money they want. The opening credits of season 1 suggest Paul takes 15-20% of the sale price.
  • Artistic License Law: Averted Trope. Paul has pointed out that selling human body parts is illegal when a woman brought in a shrunken head. Paul also pointed out that the shrunken head was fake. Needless to say, he didn't accept the piece.
  • As You Know: Like Pawn Stars, the experts will often tell Paul/Jon/Cindy things they would know for the benefit of likely less educated home viewers.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: Jon's first attempt at brewing beer, having not read the instructions. Cindy helps him to try again and their efforts are much more fruitful.
  • A-Team Firing: Cindy managed to hit the device which carries the target at the shooting range. Paul is a much better shot.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Gasoline-powered blender? Gasoline-powered pogo-stick? Motorized (and gasoline-powered) barstool? Paul has sold all three.
  • Bad Ass In A Nice Suit: Jamie always wears the strangest suits. He also beat Paul in a rematch of the American Revolution... IE - an arm-wrestling match.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: Paul is proud that his auction house sells many strange items. Bob will sometimes bring pieces to Paul that would do poorly at his own antique furniture auction house.
  • Berserk Button: Cindy hates when people with an item at auction and then don't pay for it. Cindy makes Paul a Medal of Dishonor when he does it. Everyone else goes on the Wall Of Shame.
  • Betting Mini-Game: Once, on a roulette wheel. Outcome: standard commission.
    • Jon and Cindy bet on the sale price of a pack of Billy Beer. After the expert values it as "worthless", Jon bets Cindy it'll sell for at least $100. Jon ends up winning.
  • Boring but Practical: Speed rugs. Sell as many rugs as fast as you can! Takes Jon all episode to prepare for it, though.
  • Breakout Character: The auctioneers, who were Promoted To Opening Credits in season 4.
  • Brutal Honesty: The experts tend to do this. It's their job. One expert in particular valued a case of Billy Beer at... nothing. He suggested Paul recycle the aluminum cans.
  • Burger Fool: Jon used to work in telemarketing. He mentions how awful it was several times in season one.
  • Butt Monkey: Jon and Cindy. Jon typically gets teased for being the new guy, while Cindy hurts herself using toys and a vibrator.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Jamie loves to make passes at Cindy. She is generally unimpressed.
  • Catchphrase: Guerry is known for saying "You bought it" after each item he auctions. Jon and Cindy name a home-made beer after the phrase in one episode.
  • Character Development: Jon goes from being the "new picker" in season 1 to one of Paul's trusted employees in later seasons. Elijah also becomes more involved in the auction house after his pencil-selling episode.
  • Continuity Nod: As one auction provides enough material for several episodes, items from earlier episodes can sometimes be seen in the background.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Using a toe-pulling device on Jon's fingers to find out if he left a case unlocked? Don't mess with Cindy.
  • Cool Car: Several. The recreation of the Delorean from Back to the Future impressed the crew from the actual movie enough that one of them came to the auction to promote it.
  • Cool Gun: Again, several. Some of the earlier CoolGuns were the muff pistols and a gambler's chain with hidden pistol.
  • Cool Sword: An authentic katana from World War 2? A Sword Cane? Gallery 63 has sold both.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The team was trying to sell a vibrator from the 1920s. The item itself had originally been marketed as a medical device (cultural standards of the 1920s and all). As a result, both the expert and auctioneer poked fun at its "applications".
    Guerry: It cures what ails you. Ladies?
  • Downer Ending: Anytime an item sells for far less than its estimated value. Even worse if there's a reserve, as Paul doesn't get any money, the seller is stuck with the item, and the buyer doesn't get anything either.
  • Dramatic Pause: Anytime an expert looks at a signature, expect a pause before they announce if its authentic.
  • Dreadful Musician: A downplayed example comes in the form of Cindy. When a drum set comes in, Cindy reveals she has a drumset at home and knows how to play. It turns out she knows how to play exactly one beat, which she does continually.
    • Paul himself had an expensive guitar he wanted to take lessons to play. After never getting around to it, Cindy convinces him to auction it, as valuable guitars were in high demand at that time.
    • The broken Calliope sounded awful when it was first turned on. After Delfino got some help fixing it, they were able to auction it.
    • The player-piano also sounded awful pre-repairs. Again, after some love from Delfino, it was ready for auction.
    • Averted by Jon, who was able to learn to passably play the Stumpf Fiddle in time for the auction.
  • Epic Fail: The Billy Beer was appraised as worthless. Didn't stop it from selling for over $100 though.
    • A seller brings in a stamp they claim is worth a million dollars. Cindy calls in an expert and is floored when she hears the stamp is really worth it... if it were real. Naturally, the stamp is a cheaper reproduction and the seller pulls it.
    • A seller wants to sell a cart which he runs a business out of. It breaks being unloaded from the trailer, and no one can find a replacement wheel. The most expensive item of the auction is in the front yard, broken.
  • Follow the Leader: Itself followed Pawnstars.
  • Generation Xerox: Bob runs an auction house. Paul runs an auction house. Elijah is considering joining the auction world as well.
  • Grail in the Garbage: When doing a pick, they never just take what they came for. Paul and Jon often find very valuable things in basements. Oftentimes, the owner didn't even know they had it.
  • Guns Akimbo: The muff pistols were designed to be used in this manner. Given that each only held a single shot, it's fairly justified.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: The Gold Ford is appraised by Ford's head mechanic. You may see him on Ford commercials talking about proper maintenance. Naturally, he reminds Paul to bring the Ford into a dealership to have the oil changed.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Paul ends up owing his own auction house money after he buys some art and doesn't pay. Cindy spends the whole episode harassing him about it.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Might as well, seeing as you need to test that gasoline-powered blender anyway.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Paul is a good shot, given he doesn't normally fire guns.
  • It Will Never Catch On: The gasoline-powered pogo stick was briefly somewhat popular. Until a bunch of kids hurt themselves and it was banned.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Especially if they come with a rifle and are from World War II.
  • Kayfabe: An online article from a seller who went to Gallery 63 reveals that Discovery Channel will reach out to online sellers and try to convince them to auction their piece instead. The show does not reveal when this has occurred.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Jon tries to trick Cindy into thinking a Ouija board is haunted. Cindy notices the fishing line Jon used to scare her (by pulling a chair out). She plays along and suggests telling Paul. Jon eventually ends up having to bring in a psychic to cleanse the board. Later, Cindy reveals that she knew he tricked her.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Auctions are in the blood.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Paul has an expert for everything. In one case where he didn't have an expert (A very valuable Ford sports car), he manages to get the head ford mechanic to do the appraisal instead.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Ouija board, which predicts it's own sell price. It was appraised at between $100 and $200, and itself predicted the price would have a '5' in it. It ends up going for $150... the exact middle of the appraisal and a value with a '5' in it. Cindy is not amused when she realizes Jon bought it.
    • The haunted art cabinet. The medium brought in claims it has positive energy. Another artist buys it to store art supplies. Hopefully, the ghost is satisfied.
  • Mock Guffin: Everything from fake swords to a very beat up piano. Even worse is when the item would be worth more if it were real or in good shape.
    • One seller brought in a stamp which they claimed was worth a million dollars. When the expert confirmed that the stamp would indeed be worth a million if it were real, Cindy looked ready to pass out. Sadly, the stamp was a cheaper reproduction.
      • This repeated again with a The Beatles album cover. And again, it was the cheaper reproduction.
  • More Dakka: Paul has sold a couple cannons, along with the usual antique guns.
  • Mr. Exposition: The experts will usually give a detailed history of the piece they're looking at. If there's no history to be found, they'll explain why that is.
  • Mr Fix It: Delfino can fix just about anything. Only once has he been forced to get outside help (The Calliope).
  • National Stereotypes: Invoked by Jamie, who strives to be as British as possible.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: One of Jon's first picks was a beautiful Venetian mirror. Its appraised for several thousand dollars. It goes up to auction and sells for only a couple hundred.
  • Never Live It Down: In-universe examples: Jon bringing in the banged up piano. Cindy hurting herself on the gasoline-powered pogo-stick or electrocuting herself on the 1920s vibrator. Paul forgetting to pay for a piece of art and ending up on the Wall of Shame. The fake signed first-edition first-printing of Gone with the Wind. Lampshaded when another signed first-edition first-printing of Gone with the Wind shows up and the same expert appraises it.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Paul almost always fails to meet reserves. He does occasionally take them, but is very hesitant.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Paul loves the 1980s. Jon loves old toys. Neither of them are knowledgeable enough to bypass calling an expert when items of the appropriate era show up though.
  • Off Screen Villain Dark Matter: One of the recurring bidders mentions that she won the lottery. She uses this money to buy antiques. Certainly the other bidders must think of her as this trope.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: The Auctioneers in season 5.
  • Put on a Bus: Several of the old experts haven't been seen in a while. Sometimes items of their expertise don't come in. Other times, they just vanish.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Paul is very level-headed and tends to take Jon's screw-ups in stride. Cindy tends to be more hot-headed.
  • Recurring Extra: All the experts, who are only on if there's a piece for them to appraise. Paul's dad and son also show up from time-to-time.
    • A few of the buyers and sellers are also repeat customers. Paul will occasionally mention items they've bought or sold in the past.
  • Refuge in Audacity: One lady brings in a seemingly normal piece of furniture and insists it's worth $80,000. When Paul finds out it's worth at most a couple hundred, she sells it anyway.
  • Rule of Cool / Rule of Fun: Invoked. Paul will often sell things that have very little value, as he's found entertained bidders will bid higher on expensive pieces.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: When a piece comes in that is expected to sell for much more than it goes for. Paul is quick to point out that the buyer is certainly happy though.
    • Unless a reserve is not met, in which case the seller is stuck with the piece, Paul gets no money and the buyer doesn't get the piece.
  • Schmuck Bait: That baby-grand piano that Jon was sent to get. It turned out to be a piece of junk. Luckily, Jon came back with several other valuable pieces.
    • In general, when a piece looks like it could be valuable, but the condition hurts the price.
    • Paul himself admits that pianos sell terribly at Gallery 63, so he tends to avoid them unless they are unique.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Paul asks his sports memorabilia expert to appraise a pallet of baseball cards. The expert flat out refuses.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: When a piece comes in that no one has any idea what it is, the team will sometimes discuss what it could be while they wait for the expert. Sometimes, even the seller is clueless. At least once, even the expert was stumped.
  • Serial Escalation: Occasionally lampshaded, when a piece comes in that is a more extreme version of something they previously sold.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Jamie wears some very strange but stylish suits.
  • Stock Yuck: The Garrett brothers often complain they'll have to eat bologna sandwiches if they lose money on a piece.
  • Sword Cane: Although not of the greatest quality, Paul sold one for quite a bit of money due to the novelty factor.
  • Take a Third Option: Joel owns a pawn shop down the road from Gallery 63. When he buys something he'll have trouble reselling (hoping the original seller will come back for it), he'll often bring the piece to Paul to auction instead.
  • The Stinger: Most episodes end with some kind of finagling with an incident earlier in the show, such as an item purchased or some altercation, making this double as a Brick Joke.
  • The Stoic: Delfino gets frustrated fixing broken pieces, but always keeps his cool.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Some of the experts have very narrow specialties, but Paul is always glad to know them when that one piece comes in that is in that specialty.
  • Tim Taylor Technology: The gasoline-powered blender is fully functional, but also has no reason to be that powerful. Doesn't stop Paul and Delfino from testing it by making margaritas with it though.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: And their valuable ideology handbook, which Paul auctions. Bob buys it to donate to a museum.
  • Too Awesome to Use: One seller brought in a motorcycle with only a couple miles on the odometer. This was the only time in the entire series that Paul was unable to test-ride a vehicle he sold.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Jon goes from being "The new picker" in season one, to being "My [Paul's] picker" in later seasons.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The Garrett brothers love cheeseburgers.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: Some people bring in a piece, and then keep it in the auction when it appraises for far less than what they want. When the item sells for less than they wanted, they get pissed.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Elijah learns the auction business at his dad's request. Jon also tends towards this, but not towards his dad, but rather Paul.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Paul hates flying, Cindy hates heights in general. Paul had to ride with on a test flight of a plane he was to sell. Cindy got brought along to ride in a hot-air balloon. They both ended up enjoying the experiences in the end.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Art tends to sell for a fraction of its value. Some people bring in gold or silver pieces and are annoyed when they go for little more than scrap value.
    • Specifically, Paul tells sellers to expect to get only 20% of the appraisal value.

You bought it! invoked