ASHLAND — Jim Bennett spends most of his days authenticating ancient artifacts, from arrowheads to wooly mammoth teeth.
“You can’t be an expert on everything, and my expertise begins and ends with the prehistoric,” Bennett said.
That expertise is still vast.
As he walked through rooms of ancient artifacts, Bennett could tell you facts about them all, from Moche pottery to Iroquois arrowheads.
He’s written 13 books on authenticating artifacts. And, he puts his knowledge to use as the operations manager at Premiere Auctions Group.
Bennett said he has around 700 auctions under his belt since starting to deal in these ancient artifacts in 2006, out of his basement in Polk.
He held them in hotels around the country before settling into the old Boy Scout building, where Premiere operated for the last seven or eight years — and now, he’s moved again.
More space means new ideas
Premiere Auctions Group cut the ribbon on a new location on Wednesday, and gave Ashland Source a tour on Sept. 12. Located at 1213 US 42, the new location boasts a space upgrade from 7,000 square feet to 16,000, Bennett said.
“I’m excited to have room to grow,” Bennett said.
The new, larger space offers a large auction room and plenty of space for shipping and deliveries. It also boasts an annex space, which has allowed Bennett to try something new: collectibles auctions.
Frequetly, when collections are picked up by Premiere, people ask if Premiere will sell other items too. Usually, he’s said no. But with more space, Bennett started saying yes.
The annex space will have items that don’t get posted online and aren’t eligible for bids over the phone. Instead, those items will only be eligible for Ashland area people to buy.
Bennett will call these auctions “collectibles auctions.” The first one is scheduled for Sept. 23 at 9 a.m.
Since June when Bennett started accepting other items, he has accrued a large collection. There are arrowheads, Civil War-era pistols, old toys, taxidermy of numerous animals and more that people can take home on Sept. 23.
The rest of the building
As for the main building, Bennett said the way it’s set up with a main entrance that flows into the auction room/ That allows his staff to block access to the inventory in the back.
The structure sits on more than six acres of land, which offers plenty of parking spaces for the crowds Premiere attracts for its once-a-month in-person auctions. Bennett said it usually hosts two more auctions online each month.
Bennett doesn’t buy any of the items he auctions. Instead, people send him their collections and he organizes their sale, taking a percentage on consignment.
“When we deal with these people, customer service is huge to us,” Bennett said. “Lots of people have emotional connections to these artifacts.”
Often, he said, they’re passed down between family members. When somebody chooses to sell them, somebody else gets it, and those items might continue to be passed between generations.
He said Premiere ships around 160 boxes of artifacts each week, and receives another 30-40.
All items are tracked, and those to be auctioned off online are photographed and put online.
A large back room offers plenty of space for Premiere to organize all of its items for multiple auctions.
“Every day is like Christmas because we never know when we open a box what’s going to be inside there,” Bennett said.
For more information about auctions or consignment, you can visit Premiere Auctions’ website.