After Chris Stoltzfus launched PA Auction Center in 2008, it took some real effort to find things to sell from his building next to White Oak Campground outside Quarryville.
But hard work soon began to pay off and before long the 15,000-square-foot auction house couldn’t contain the sales of household goods, antiques, furniture and jewelry, which spilled outside onto the building’s grounds.
“The consignments just show up,” said Leon Stoltzfus, Chris’ son who joined the business in 2012 and described his dad’s early efforts to get it going.
As auction activity continued to grow, PA Auction House went into the market for a new property of its own, eventually finding something in Blue Ball with nearly 10 times the space.
“To me, it’s just perfect for us,” Stoltzfus said of the 140,000-square-foot former sewing factory turned craft warehouse that has been the auction house’s home since the fall 2020. PA Auction Center bought the property in June 2020 for $2.15 million.
In the new building at 1141 Wea Wit Drive, PA Auction Center has been able to comfortably expand, building out a regular auction schedule that includes sales of restaurant equipment, coins and jewelry, and construction equipment. There’s also a monthly firearms auction that typically sells 400 guns.
Live auctions, which can attract up to 1,000 people, have been held alongside online bidding that has enlarged the pool of buyers for the auction house’s ever-expanding variety of merchandise.
“With us, we have construction equipment, firearms, taxidermy: there’s not much that we don’t sell,” he said. “We’re probably the most diversified auction company in this area.”
That diversity will be on full display this weekend with the sale of 18 artworks by Abner and Aaron Zook, twins who specialized in hard carved and painted scenes of rural life. The auction of the Zook pictures will cap a two-day sale that includes a collection of antique gasoline pumps and vintage service station signs.
Abner and Aaron Zook were born in Leacock Township in 1921. The Zooks were raised Amish, and while both eventually left the Old Order church, their work often recreates scenes from their childhood, including harvests and barn raisings. Aaron Zook died in 2003 and Abner Zook died in 2010.
Most of the Zook pictures being sold were previously displayed at Good N Plenty, the Smoketown restaurant that closed in December. Four smaller artworks by Aaron Zook were added less than a week before the sale. PA Auction Center has previously sold several Zook artworks, including an “Auction Scene” by Abner Zook that sold in February for $30,000.
Leon Stoltzfus, who was born into an Old Order Amish family but never joined the church, says he has witnessed firsthand the renewed interest from art collectors in the Zook’s artistic portrayal of Amish life.
“More and more people are aware of (the Zook’s pictures) and have a desire to collect them, adding more buyers to the market – and the prices are going up,” said Stoltzfus, whose parents are members of the Old Order Amish church.
The sale of the Zook pictures will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at PA Auction Center, 1141 Wea Wit St., East Earl, behind Town Hall Restaurant. The sale of vintage gas pumps and signs will begin at noon Friday and then resume at 9 a.m. Saturday. Both sales will include live and online bidding. Auction catalogs, as well as additional information about the auctions, is available online at paauctioncenter.com.