Founded in 1947
Eldred’s has been owned and operated by the Eldred family for three generations. Founded in 1947 by Robert C. Eldred, Sr., Eldred’s is the oldest continuously operating auction house in New England.
Headquartered on Cape Cod’s historic Route 6A in East Dennis, Massachusetts, and with a satellite gallery in Mystic, Connecticut, Eldred’s is both a New England tradition and a destination for collectors from across the United States and around the globe.
Throughout the years we’ve handled many impressive consignments, have routinely broken records for the highest prices ever realized at auction in a variety of consignment areas, and have been at the forefront of online auction technology. While auctions have changed dramatically since our inception, Eldred’s remains true to its commitment of personalized, expert service.
Bob Eldred, Jr. with a Charles Wilson Peale portrait sold at Eldred’s
Bob Eldred, Jr. and a young Josh Eldred
The Nation's Leading Marine Art Auction House
World-Record Prices for Scrimshaw
We have had the immense privilege over the last several years to handle some of the finest private collections of maritime and whaling art to come to market, including the landmark sales of the Brenninkmeyer, Mittler, Kobacker, Vardeman and McDowell collections. Pieces from these and other collections have achieved record prices, including the circa 1831 whale tooth engraved by Edward Burdett of Nantucket seen here, which sold for a world-record $456,000 at The Marine Sale, July 20, 2017.
Eldred’s pioneered marine art auctions in the United States starting in the 1960s, and we continue to be a world-wide leader in the field as the only auction house in America with a dedicated Marine Art department. Our marine specialists have a combined 100 years of experience and a deep passion for the material, volunteering their expertise to museums, symposiums and other scholarly endeavors.
Personalized, Expert Service
At Eldred’s you will find the individualized attention often lacking in a larger auction house.
Whether you have a single item to consign, an estate to liquidate or are in need of appraisal services, we are here to help.
Never experienced the thrill of bidding in an auction? From a museum-quality painting to a simple pair of candlesticks, no matter your budget, auctions can be a great place to find almost anything you’d want to buy. We hope you’ll join us at a future sale, either in person in the saleroom or online.
Areas of Specialty
Eldred’s conducts approximately 25 auctions per year, encompassing
- Asian Art
- Decorative Arts & Furniture
- European Antiques
- Fine Art
- Historic Documents & Ephemera
- Marine Art & Scrimshaw
- Oriental Rugs
- Sporting Art, Firearms & Militaria
- And more
Our specialists are considered industry leaders in their fields of expertise, but all have a comprehensive knowledge of all areas of antiques and fine art.Read More
Snapshots from our History
Robert C. Eldred, Sr.
Our founder on the block at an auction under our famous green and white striped tent.
The Auction House
A view of Eldred’s captured in a Ric Howard painting.
Located in historic buildings on Route 6A in East Dennis, our galleries are intimate in scale and tastefully appointed.
with President & CEO Josh Eldred
How would you describe Eldred’s?
Eldred’s is a classic New England auction house. We help estates, institutions, dealers and individuals effectively market their art and antiques to the widest possible market. We work with people with just one item, or with estates and collections with thousands of objects.
Every item consigned to us is carefully cataloged, photographed, and placed in an appropriate auction, where bidders on Cape Cod and beyond are able to add these treasures to their own collections.
What advice do you give to people who are unfamiliar with Eldred’s?
I would encourage people to visit us on one of our auction exhibition days. Though people often seem a bit intimidated by the auction process, it really is quite easy and a lot of fun. We love to meet customers, talk about what we do, share our expertise, and work with new bidders to help them form their own collections.
Little known fun facts?
I think people are often surprised that we offer the kind of high-quality valuable items that tend to be associated with the largest city auction houses. Here at Eldred’s, we routinely sell objects for more than $100,000, and we have even sold works of art for over a million dollars. We hold many auction records, including the world-record price for a piece of scrimshaw — $456,000.
However, along with these high-end items, we have many wonderful and unique pieces that sell from $100 to a few thousand dollars. One of the biggest surprises is that you can buy a 200-year-old antique bureau from us for less than one would cost at a place like Pottery Barn.
How long has Eldred’s been in business? What is the history of the company?
The company was founded by my grandfather, Robert C. Eldred, Sr in 1947, making us the oldest auction house in New England, and one of the oldest in the country. We have been in the same location on Route 6A in East Dennis since 1947, and we are now in our third generation of ownership within the same family.
When my grandfather started the company, he moved a barn from South Dennis to its present location on 6A to serve as office and auction space. Over the years there have been numerous additions to the old barn, leaving us with one of the largest auction facilities in New England. In the summers we like to take advantage of the beautiful Cape Cod weather, so we hold auctions outside, under a green and white striped tent that has become a quasi-famous landmark (and has been featured in more than a few paintings!).
Probably the biggest change at Eldred’s, however, and the auction business in general, has been the steady shift to online bidding over the last decade. All of our auctions are streamed online, which allows anyone in the world to participate, instead of just the people who had made their way to East Dennis for the auction, as it was in my grandfather’s day. This website allows buyers to leave bids days, and even weeks, before the auction, and then on auction day itself, they can follow the auctioneer in real time and bid remotely.
What do customers especially love about Eldred’s?
I think people love the fact that everything is always changing. You never know what you are going to find when you come to an auction. So often a customer will come in to look at a bureau they saw online, but they end up falling in love with a painting and buying that as well.
There is also the magic of the auction. You can’t come into the gallery and buy an item; you have to go through the auction process. It’s a bit like a gambler’s rush — sometimes you get a great deal and buy it for less the you expect, sometimes you get caught up and spend more than you had planned!