Texas auctioneer Rob Burley grows his business as others cut back

Rob Burley decided five years ago to launch an auction firm and hasn’t looked back since. He hasn’t regretted his decision, even as the economy closed in on discretionary spending and put several auction houses at risk. It’s quite the contrary at Burley’s, located in New Braunfels, Texas. He wisely decided to start small and limit his auction calendar to four to six significant sales every year. What he found is a growing demand for a quality, regional auction house with the capacity to manage estates as far away as Michigan, Arizona and California. In April, the firm made national news when Burley sold an entire Texas ghost town – The Grove – for $200,000.

“We’ve actually been growing faster in the last three years than we did the first two,” Burley told Antique Trader. “We started regionally but we’re starting to compete nationally.” Burley tells the story of a knife once owned by Crazy Horse, the last of the famous Native American warriors, which brought $25,000 at his auction after failing to sell at a larger national house.

“We are concentrating on stuff that’s fresh to the market,” he said. “It’s like the Henry rifle, I love that it’s been in the family all this time.”

The Henry rifle (complete with a 100-year provenance) joins other firearms and Western Americana in Burley’s upcoming Labor Day weekend sale. This fourth annual sale, one of the largest of the year, is so large that he had to move it off the holiday and add an extra day of selling.

The sale is headlined by the important collection of Ed Granger, a well-known Texas judge whose name graces a building at the University of Texas. Granger had an eye for unique advertising and items from the Republic of Texas era (1836-1845) before the state officially joined the union.

Granger’s collection holds furniture from the era, including two rare wardrobes.

Burley’s next big sale is scheduled for Oct. 16-17 in Fort Worth, Texas. It features the Western Americana collections of Jarrell and Brenda McDonald, owners of The Cross Eyed Moose and Bum Steer Western stores in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

For more information on Burley Auction sales, visit www.burleyauction.com or call 830-237-3440 or 830-629-9280 e-mail us at info@burleyauction.com. Bidding in the Labor Day Auction is available in person, via telephone and online through LiveAuctioneers.com. ?


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