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What the Heck is Heckerling?

Skinner conference booth

The Skinner booth set up for the Heckerling Conference

The Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning is an annual conference (this year’s was the 45th) at which attorneys, trust bankers, and other estate planning and estate settlement professionals gather to learn what’s new in their field of expertise.

I attended this year’s session with Patricia W. King, Director of Appraisals & Auction Services at Skinner. We got away from the wintry Boston weather for a week at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, FL from January 10th-14th. We were there to exhibit our wares, primarily auction catalogues that represent the breadth of material offered through Skinner auctions. We also attended in order to talk about our services with the assembled crowd. As industry partners, we help trust & estate professionals do their job by providing estate appraisals, insurance appraisals, and of course, assistance selling antiques and collectibles or tangible assets at auction. Patricia has attended every conference since 2003, but this was my rookie year.

Having arrived on Sunday evening to set up our display space, we were ready for the crowds when the conference opened Monday. Looking for coffee and conversation, hundreds of bankers, attorneys, and lawyers descended on the exhibitors at every break in the proceedings. We were up against at least half a dozen other major auction houses, but numerous people sought us out to compliment our catalogues. “They’re quite attractive,” we heard many times. I proudly explained that we do it all in house, with a full time photo and production team.

Others would engage with us telling their stories, either of personal triumphs in the world of antiques and fine art, or of their reactions to the auction market. Of the hundreds of people who approached, most were interested in what we had to offer – either because of a general interest in antiques and fine art, or because of a specific situation or type of property about which they asked for our advice.

One gentleman was interested in pocket watches. We explained that pocket watches are offered in a variety of specialty auctions, depending on their origins. We offer pocket watches in our Science Technology & Clocks auctions, Fine Jewelry auctions, American Furniture & Decorative Art auctions, European Furniture & Decorative Art auctions, and also in our monthly Discovery estate auctions.

Thankfully, as we explained to the gentleman, we have a very easy way to track pocket watches without paging through every single catalogue: Skinner Lot Alert. With Lot Alert, if you enter the words “pocket watch,” you’ll receive an email automatically whenever a pocket watch comes up for sale in any auction. It’s as simple as that!

On Friday morning we stayed open for business until the final coffee break, packed up the contents of our booth, and headed to the airport for the flight back to Boston. Patricia and I both felt that we’d had a productive conference sharing our auction catalogues, giving advice on useful website features like Lot Alert, and spreading the word about Skinner. Now we faced the prospect of clearing the remains of several blizzards out of our driveways!

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