Wednesday, December 29, 2010

KitchenAid Mixers


How do you really make dough in this business? You pay attention to quality at any level. I have preached repeatedly over the years that you should make money anytime, anyway, that you can. KitchenAid provided us all with an item that can readily be turned into cash!

KitchenAid mixers are great items for picking up a little extra cash. Everything from the old mixers to new are popular with everyone from professional cooks to everyday homeworkers. The typical used mixer goes for around $100.00. Keep an eye out for the attachments. Many of the attachments can be sold for $20 to 200.

Are They Right?

First, NO! I am not recanting. A few weeks ago I wrote about the spate of new television shows, American Pickers, Pawn Stars and the host of new auction shows. I was overall on the negative side in my review of the shows. What I said in the review was true. But what has the net effect really been?

Amazing! The number of people attending auctions and storage locker sales has increased ten fold. For years I have been attending storage locker sales and typically the crowd of attendees rarely went over 10 bidders. Today I attended a storage locker sale, that had a total of 4 units, and over 200 bidders showed up. Unbelievable! Over 200!

Initially my reaction was "My God you have to be kidding. This many bidders is going to make it impossible for me to buy anything." Well that didn't happen. The units brought the same amount that they always do.

Second reaction, curiosity. That's right, I figured that they had all seen the shows and just plain wanted to see what it was all about. Today, they got a good dose. Four units that were filled with what could best be described as a bunch of crap. I do not deny that you can make money on these storage sales, if you couldn't I would not be going. But like I said before you need to go through a bunch of them before you get one good one.

Third reaction, the new bidders were hoping to get rich quick. Watching these shows leads one to believe that these storage units are just teeming with tons of great stuff that is worth massive amounts of money. Today, they were disappointed.

Fourth reaction, FANTASTIC! Fantastic? I just spent two full blogs knocking these stupid shows. FANTASTIC. Around here business has been particularly poor. For the first time in over 3 years people were excited about something in Youngstown, Ohio. It didn't involve a murder scene or a burning building, it was a simple storage locker sale. Two hundred people attended a piece of crap storage auction sale, fantastic!

What it really means is there is hope for this business. These shows for all of the nonsense and impossible expectations that they raise have generated genuine interest in the business again. I really hope that the interest continues and that better prices for everything are just around the corner. The depression / recession / or whatever we are calling nowadays has really hurt the antiques and collectibles market. Is this sudden boon in attendees going to bring about an end to slumping sales? Probably not, at least not by itself, but it certainly helps in creating interest in the business again.

Sorry, about the photo quality. It was 5:10 in the evening and it was taken on a cell phone.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

We will be spending Christmas Eve at home. It will be a quiet evening with Stephanie, Gus and myself. Stay tuned and have a merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

French Provincial Dining Room Set

Looks great! China cabinet, table with two leaves, 6 immaculately preserved chairs, scratch free, odor free and in perfect condition. Who wouldn't want this for their home? Apparently very few.
This falls into the category of it should be, but isn't. This style of dining room set seems to be plentiful in the Youngstown, Ohio area. They were staples of 1960's through 1980's home furnishings. Today, they just don't seem to fit in.
Changing styles, families going away from formal dining and a lack of disposable income are all influencing factors on why these are worth so little in todays market place. It seems such a shame but typically in our area these sets sell for as little as $50.00. How do you explain to the elderly women that her pride and joy is worth $50.00? You can't. This is probably a case where you should just tell her that you don't buy this type of antique. But, if you are feeling really adventorous and you think you could get $7-800 for it, give it a shot. Just remember that I'll say "I told you so".

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The television shows

Yep, they are all out there now. Antiques Roadshow, American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Auction Hunters...and many more, although, there should be less. What do I think about them? For the most part not much. One or two of them have some entertainment merit, but for the most part they do not accurately reflect what the antiques (money making) business is really about.

Lets start with the latest of the group, Auction Hunters. As all of you who have been reading my posts ( Stephanie, Gus & my kids) I go to storage unit sales. As I have stated it is a high risk / high return method of buying and selling. These two men Ton Jones and Allen Haff, have the most incredible luck that has ever been seen in the modern world. A bad purchase for them results in making 2 or 3 thousand dollars on a storage unit. The good ones just keep falling out of the sky for them. $3,000 bikes, $2,000 cash registers, cars, guns the list just goes on and on.

But what about the other stuff? You know the clothes, broken dinner sets, trashed electronics, rats, bugs and just plain junk. They just seem to forget about that part of it. Here is the reality. Yes, you can find some tremendous bargains. I have found guitars, gold jewelry and good furnishings. I have also found Ton's of clothes, worthless household items and a 22" nicely colored, perfectly preserved rat. That's right a rat. At first I thought it was a well made toy. Nope immediately upon picking it up (of course I didn't have gloves on that day) I realized its true identity. So if your squeamish...stay away from storage lockers.

So now that the rat story has been told, on with the everything else. First, you are required to remove all items within 24 hours. This problem is easily solved by owning either a box truck, large van or trailer. Second, you need to be able to put it somewhere, so that you can go through it to see what you have purchased. I would suggest renting a large barn. This will give you the space that you will need to sort all of your treasures out. Third, you need a network to get rid of the stuff. This is real easy with the good stuff. Gold, easy to sell. Tiffany lamps, anyone will buy them. Stinky underwear, or a dead rat, a little more difficult.

You will need several cooperative auctioneers, a local Goodwill store that is willing to take your clothing and close proximity to a free dump (these don't exist unless you can find an abandoned house). Real simple. No problem. EEEEASY!

Practically speaking, the show is somewhat entertaining. The truth is you can get great buys, unfortunately you can also get bombs. I would also suggest that calling your competitors whales on national television just might incite some of them to being slightly more competitive and in some special cases more murderous. Don't be stupid, calling someone a whale publicly can be dangerous. Also, save the screaming about your great finds for the privacy of your own home. You will look stupid and ridicules even when you do it in a metal storage building. Bottom line: A BIG THUMBS DOWN TO THIS SHOW!

Next lets talk about the Pawn Stars. In my opinion this is one of the more entertaining shows in the antique world. I have had a employees who could have been Chumlee's mental twin work for me. I won't mention any names in order to protect the guilty, but the Chumlee's are probably the most important people in the business. Why? Because we all need to be entertained, and the Chumlee's are great entertainers. They break up the monotony, they make us laugh and their unique perspective keeps on our toes.

Typical episodes involve Rick Harrison viewing items brought into the pawn shop, then stating that he needs his expert to look at it, and finally offering (or not offering ) to buy or pawn the item. The items are varied and typically expensive. Besides entertainment the shows good sides are its educational value, its realistic price negotiating and it shows how naive most people are when it comes to business. Rick states over and over that he needs to make money one every piece that he buys. This is true, he won't (and neither will you) be in business very long if he doesn't. His customers consistently want the full value of the items that they are offering for sale, he simply says "that's not going to happen". Smart man, we should all follow his lead.

The unrealistic portion of the show is fact that they sell everything at retail. Unfortunately getting "retail" prices is virtually impossible for the majority of us out here in the antiquing world. Las Vegas is the capital of stupid spending. Over the years I have performed many appraisals for large carat rings that were purchased in Vegas. Vegas price on a typical ring $32,000, Podunk Ohio price for the same ring $9,000. Do they really get the high prices? For their sake I hope so, for the rest of us hill folk out here, "ya purdy much takes wats ya cun git".

American Pickers! Wow, what a great idea, go up to someones junky looking house or farm, tell them your here to give them money for their antiques and then buy, buy, buy! So simple. First, the typical goofball who has shit piled up all over his property is, well not quite right in the head. Yeah, we all have the old doghouse that's tipping over, the blue bike along the garage and an occasional junk car, but we aren't talking about typical here. The type of person who hoards piles of mostly useless junk also hoards:


For the typical antiques dealer without a television crew, $75,000 truck and invitations received from someone craving television attention to show off their collections, going up to these types of homes can be, well suicidal.

For those of you feeling that you need to do this I have a suggestion, take a few precautions first. Number one bullet proof vests, second rabies vaccinations finally a completed will. I would also suggest wearing a very strong cologne. This will facilitate the search dogs finding the remains of your body after is been buried in the back yard due to the "accidental" shooting.

Do I like this show? Not really.

Then there is the granddaddy of them all Antiques Roadshow. Good information, great stuff, fun format and entertaining. In 35 years of buying and selling antiques I have never seen anything like the stuff they get on each show. Enough said.

Overall the shows should be viewed with a grain of salt. Just like my blog these shows can be full of crap. I will tell all of you the educational value is fantastic. You will see items that just don't show up everyday. So watch, learn and be aware that with some luck finding these great antiques could happen to you.

Antiques Roadshow- PBS
Pawn Stars- History Channel
Auction Hunters- Spike
American Pickers- History Channel

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oak "C" Roll Top Desk

Yesterday, I attempted to begin the discussion on how much pricing has changed in the last few years. Today, I am going to give a prime example of just how much the value has changed. Oak roll top desks were a top value item in antique shops and auctions up until the last few years.

At one time a desk like this would easily fetch $600 to 700! But not anymore. I purchased this desk at a public auction on Monday for a whopping $33.00. I would gladly sell it for $100.00. Why such a great change in value?

#1. It is too damn big. Most people don't have the room in their homes.

#2. Computers and printers don't fit on them.

#3. Antique oak furnishings are down in general.

So why did I buy it? First of all I can be a little compulsive. I just cannot resist torturing myself with over sized items that are difficult to move, store and sell. Second, the auctioneer looked at me! Yes, that's right, he looked at me. It is amazing how the simple suggestion of a "look", you know the one, "Gee willikers this sure seems cheap" from an auctioneer can suddenly make you throw caution to the wind and raise your hand up. Third, I was bored. This is another great reason to make yourself work too hard for your money.

So if anyone out there has a hankering for an oak "C" roll top desk at a bargain price, all you have to do is look on http://www.craigslist.com/ in Youngstown, Ohio, in the antiques column. I can tell you that the dealer (idiot) selling it is considering all offers.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What has happened to the value of my stuff?

I have recently been doing quite a few appraisals. Some are court ordered, some are auction estimates and others are just for curiosity. Everyone is always happy to see me when I first arrive at their homes, unfortunately this happiness is often short lived. Why? Prices on most items have declined significantly. The "oh my goodness I can't wait to see whats its worth" changes to "you have got to be kidding".

What has happened to the antiques and collectibles market? Have the changes occurred due to the economy, is it because of changes in styles or are collectors just plain tired? Just what are they looking for?

All of these questions and no real answers. The changes in buying habits seem to be drastic and have occurred in a very short period of time. I have been at this now for over 30 years. During those 30 years I have witnessed the seemingly constant increases in the value of antiques and collectibles. Sure there were some crazy short term blasts like beanie babies and collectible plates. But for the most part these were aberrations. Most collectors witnessed an almost continuous increase in the value of their collections. Now those increases seem to be in a full reverse. Prices are down. Dealers are leaving the business at a pace faster than I have ever seen before. So if you are a dealer / investor what is the answer?

The real answer is simple BUY, BUY, BUY, BUY!!!! No, I haven't been smoking exotic tropical plants that Ohio just happens to have a growing season just long enough for. The answer is buy because for the collector, the low prices available on a wide variety of "rare" items gives unprecedented ability to purchase items that you could only dream of before.

Some examples:

Reverse painted Handel lamps are down 20-30%
Pedal cars down 50%
Cut glass absolutely bargain prices down 70%

Name your favorite collectible and it is most likely 1/2 the price that it used to be. Now is not the time to moan about the fact that your Hummel Chimney Sweep figurine is only worth $15.00 when you paid over $50.00 for it 5 years ago. Instead of worrying about that, why not go out and buy the Hummel Century pieces that used to cost $1500.00 and are now bringing only $500.00. Use this era of low prices to your advantage, it will not last forever.

On the other end of the scale some items are doing exceptionally well. These items are very easy to pick out because they are mostly shiny items. Gold, silver and platinum are reaching all time highs. Keep an eye out on jewelry boxes at auctions and garage sales. Stephanie (my wife) bought a 14k gold bracelet for 50 cents at a garage sale. She sold it for almost $800.

Other things that are hot right now:

Clean usable household furnishings, stay away from anything that smells, is scratched or is from a home with animals or smokers.

Usable appliances.

Automobiles that look decent and can be priced under $3000.

For everyone out there, it isn't really the best time to sell off your collections that you started 10 years ago. Prices are down. The truer reality is that it is a great time to buy. Don't be depressed. Take advantage of the current buying climate and add those rare items that you could not previously afford.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Idora Park and Walter Part 2

Idora Park / Walter Part 2:
I thought that it would be best to tell part 2 with some photos. These are a few of the photos that Walter left behind. More of the story will follow.

Not bad for a short guy!

Getting ready for a big sales day.

The merchandise.

NO! I do not weigh 160!

Chicks really dig me!

I get all the girls. All this guy can do is stand around and hold onto his monkey.

There are advantages to being short!

The Jack Rabbit.


My sister.

Opening the midway.

Idora gardens.

Just clowning around.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Idora Park, Just for the fun of it!

Idora park was the entertainment Mecca in Youngstown, Ohio. It was the place to go. It was where you went for fun, music, baseball, swimming, picnics and just about anything else that would create a lasting fun memory for you. It was the home of the Spring Fling, rodeo's, the circus, Eddie Feiner, car shows and most importantly Walter Menning.

Walter Menning? Who in the world is Walter Menning? Well, guess what, I'm going to tell you.

I was first introduced, posthumously, to Walter in 2001. It was a strange introduction to say the least. I had received a phone call from a man who was looking to sell the contents of a home that he had purchased. Since I really like to make money, I accepted the invitation and scheduled an appointment to see the household. I arrived at the home early and immediately became concerned. The house (as we are calling it) was a little run down. It started with twenty years of overgrowth, it continued with a Herman Munster looking washed out rotting wood lapboard and yes, of course boarded up windows / doors. If all of this was not enough it came with a companion house that sat directly facing it (on the same lot) that was even more terrifying than Walter's house. So there I was sitting in my car in what most people would designate a very bad neighborhood, on a very hot late August afternoon, thinking to myself, "I'm getting the hell out of here before I end up dead!".

My fears were compounded by the fact that I though I saw a ghost (or maybe it was a puttytat) go running across the yard (it was really a finch). My heart pounding, my overactive imagination flying made me decide that this one just was not for me. I proceeded to write a little note to put on the door when I had second thoughts. The second thoughts came due to one (and only one) observation, metal venetian blinds on the second floor window. American Pickers would have been proud of me. Two inch wide metal venetian blinds are a sure sign of one thing, old folks. Young kids use plastic, poor people use sheets, the loony tunes use newspaper, the rich use exotic cloths and old folks...METAL VENETIAN BLINDS. Oh yeah, old folks kept these blinds forever.

So, I tore up the note. Pulled out my phone and called the now very late owner of the property. He had forgotten about me. This happens all of the time. Most of the time I just ignore it because, well I still like to make money and the only way to make it in this business is to have the items that people want to buy. The owner was very nice and immediately left to meet me at the house. Fifteen minutes later he arrived, screw gun in his hand. One by one the screws on the well placed plywood dropped to the ground. A little bit of prying and off it the board came, what I saw next, is to this day one of the most unusual sights that I have ever seen. The house(s) were absolutely perfectly preserved. It seems, according to the owner, that Walter had left the house for a nursing home, over 20 years prior to this hot summer day. That's right! This home had been boarded up for over 20 years and not been touched.

Pretty cool! Just to add a little more to this cool is the fact that Walter Menning had been born in the house and lived there his entire life. Here are some other great things about Walter.
  • Walter was an avid photographer
  • Walter was only 3" tall.
  • Walter NEVER through anything out.
  • Walter also had a sister (Tillie) who was 3" tall and had a masters degree.
  • He was the school mascot for The Rayen School
  • He was a writer.
  • He marched in the holiday parades in a vintage oil cloth Mickey Mouse suit.
  • He became a household name in our home. To the point that to this day we speak of him with great respect.
  • He worked at Idora Park.

These are just some of the things that we know about Walter. He unknowingly left a tremendous history of his life. So today, I am going to start Walter's story, I will tell you about Idora Park and the simple man who should go down as one of its greatest employees. Since this is probably going to be one of my longer posts it will take a few days for me to finish it. Today, part one.

Part One

Walter's House(s)

An antiques dealers dream! After the plywood came down, the door unlatched and with only the dim light of a fading day I first observed Walter's domain. The living room, old mohair sofa, upholstered rocking chair and pole lamp. A stand with an ashtray, glasses sitting where they were last taken off and surprisingly only a very light covering of dust.

The dining room, great massive 10 piece Berkey and Gay dining room set. Fancy enough to sit in the finest homes of the day. The china cabinet was amazing in that everything was placed as it had been used only yesterday. The neatly laid doilies on the sideboard. The chairs place appropriately around the table. Walter must have been a perfectionist.

His kitchen was old, oaken cabinets filled with Homer Laughlin china, water glasses with multi floral motifs, brightly colored bowls and drawers of everyday flatware. Next, one scary room. The scary room was attached to the home as if it were an after thought. It wasn't a garage nor was it ever intended to be a family room. It could be appropriately described as a huge mud room complete with mud (no flooring). It also seemed to contain a multitude of local miniature animals. Rats? I don't think so, but it definitely had bats, mice and one large groundhog. All of this combined with an outgrowth of flora and fauna, that was ironically growing in the dark, gave the room a very creepy feeling. Thank goodness that whoever had this part of the house added on knew enough to put up a strong door. A door that I kept closed and never reopened.

The second floor must have been Walters haven. A dark room contained hundreds, no thousands, of his photo's. A bedroom that was simple and well lived in. Guest rooms that looked as if they were waiting for friends and family to arrive. This was Walters main home. As dark as it was, it was full of life. Its history preserved through his photography, his life preserved preserved by the trinkets and treasures he kept. This place, this man were getting ready to tell me a story that I will carry with me the rest of my life.

Part 2, Same bat time, same bat channel...later this week!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bleeding Tools, bloodletting tools

Bleeding although seemingly barbaric by today's standards, was a common practice in the 1800's. These bleeding tools actually have a reasonably high degree of collectibility in today's marketplace. They are typically brass and some type of tool steel. They can come with single blades or multiple blades. And I have seen them show up just about anywhere. Keep an eye out for them because they are definitely a cash it it item. They will sell quickly for around $60 for a very simple one blade tool and can reach into the hundreds for good condition multiple blade tools. Provenance can also add to the price. Identifying the original owners can add to the price.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Roseville Sunflower Vase

Roseville pottery is widely collected, very sought after pottery. Most Roseville pottery is marked. This makes identifying it very easy for the novice antique dealer collector. It is usually a simple matter of turning the piece upside down and looking for the Roseville markings. USUALLY, but not always. Some of the most desirable pieces of pottery contain no markings whatsoever. So how do you identify it?

Books, books, books. You can learn by trial and error, you can learn by asking a lot of questions to people who hopefully like you or you can break down and buy a book. This is a case of needing a book with a great number of good photo's so that you can begin to identify the elusive unmarked pieces. Sunflower is a line of Roseville that is often to always not marked. The only way you will really know is to have seen a piece of it previously, best place, a book. Second to the book is the Internet. Once you know a line name, go to ebay to further your education.

This little piece of sunflower would sell quickly in the $400 range. It could easily be missed by someone with an untrained eye. So invest in good books. My library currently consists of over 300 books on subjects from cookie jars to slot machines. Average cost of a new book $40.00. Average cost of not educating yourself, priceless.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ludwig Snare Drums

Ludwig snare drums like any musical instrument enjoy a strong demand in the resale marketplace. Collectors will snap up the older versions, the newer versions will go directly to use, with students and musicians. So what do you look for? What is important?

As always condition is going to be one of the strongest determinants of value. On drums, especially the older ones you can get away with the drum needing new heads (the part that you hit with the sticks). On the newer ones unless it is very inexpensive I would shy away from the ones that need repairs. The drums should be free of any major dents or damage. Cases can add value for students that will need to have the ability to transport them from place to place.

Value? Good used, playable drums will sell easily in the $75.00 to 150.00 range. Older drums can sell for prices reaching the thousands.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Geroge Roman Auctioneers, Kiko Auctioneers, Byce Auctions, Baer Auctions, Boardman Auction Gallery, Jeff Anglin, Paul Bassinger...and more!

Locally these are among the most active auctioneers. These auctioneers typically run at least one auction a week and many of them run multiple auctions every week. Each of them is unique in how they conduct an auction and each, in my opinion, exhibit a high degree of professionalism.

Recently, there has been a rash of postings on Craigslist on how expensive, corrupt and unprofessional auctioneers are. In addition the writer(s) have complained about buyers premiums and misrepresentations of items being sold. So what about all of this? Are they all corrupt? Do they charge too much? Are they unprofessional? The answer to all of these questions is a categorical no.

I have been attending auctions for over 35 years now. I can tell you that at times even I questioned whether an auctioneer was on the level or not. The truest answer is the people making these outrageous statements are most likely uninformed or bitter because they did not get an item that they desired.

Uninformed, anyone attending an auction needs to know that the auctioneer is not working for the buyer. Their primary responsibility is to obtain the highest prices possible for the seller. Do they always get the maximum...NO! Is it possible to get the maximum on every item being sold? No, not really, but they are required to try. So whenever you get the feeling that the auctioneer has something against you because he is calling the bid for so long, you need to understand that it is his responsibility to do so. Again, he works for the seller, not for you.

Do auctioneers ever make misstatements about items being sold? Sure, no one, not even me, the acknowledged expert, knows everything. I make mistakes every day. Auctioneers are human, they miss marks, they miss chips, they miss cracks and yes they occasionally describe an item as being one thing when it is actually another. The bottom line is BUYER BEWARE! Its not that they are trying to deceive. It is the buyers responsibility to check the items prior to their purchase. Virtually all auctioneers (definitely all that I have listed) have previews where you have 1-2 hours to look at all of the items being offered for sale. If you don't look at the items it is not the auctioneers fault it is yours. In spite of all of this, many of the auctioneers will take back items that were not as described and resale them. DON'T COUNT ON THIS! They don't have to resale the item even if they described it wrong. This being said it is always to your advantage to have a good relationship with the auctioneers and their staff. Bottom line if you don't know, don't bid.

Tied bids. There is no such thing as far as the state of Ohio's auction laws go. The item is considered sold when the auctioneer makes a clear indication that it is sold. If one of his helpers has your bid and the auctioneer has someone Else's bid, guess who looses, YOU. So if you don't think that the auctioneer has your bid, ask. No one will ever be mad at you for making sure that you are on the bid.

Missed bids scenario two. Winkin, blinkin and nod. When there are over 200 people in attendance at an auction it can be difficult to catch bids. Physical distractions, changes in shade and light and people milling about are only a few of the reasons that bids are missed. Trying to be discreet in your bidding is foolishness. If the auctioneer does not see you winking than you are just shit out of luck. You are far better off to jump up and down naked to get his attention than to wiggle your nose in the hope that he will catch it and your competition won't.

Buyers premiums are the result of increasing costs, lower prices realized and in actuality are part of the contractual agreement between the auctioneer and the seller. These changes have made it very difficult for auctioneers to conduct auctions the old fashion way, without any premiums. The reality is that very few auctions can be conducted by charging a seller the traditional 20% that was the standard for years. If you take a typical auction grossing around $6000 this is how it would fall out. At 20% commission ($1200) the auctioneer has to pay help ($350), advertising ($650), signs ($100), supplies ($30) and a variety of other expenses. Simple math on even this very easy example shows the auctioneer making a whopping $70. Not bad for three days work. Would you do it?

The contractual agreement between the auctioneer and the seller essentially moves a portion of the selling expense to the buyer. That 10% means that the auctioneer will be able to eat and live another day. This is important to him because if he doesn't worry about it no one else will. Now instead of making $70, with the additional 10% he makes $670. Wow! Almost $15 per hour. How will he stand the prosperity. And still none of this takes into account the other expenses. Licensing, computers, insurance, taxes..........

Just so you know I am not writing this a a complaint. I am writing it so that all of you realize the relative difficulty auctioneers have to make a living. It is hard work and comes with low pay. The most productive auctioneers do not make a living selling household items and antiques. They make a living by being very diversified. Real estate, cars, appraisals and just about anything else they can pick up to supplement the sales. So whenever you feel about complaining about how auctioneers are ripping you off, I would recommend taking a proactive approach to your complaints, CHOOSE ANOTHER HOBBY. They really don't need or want you. Just go away.

Finally, if you have a complaint or problem, talk to the auctioneer. Most of the time these minor issues can be fixed with little or no problem. The licensing division will ultimately take care of the true "bad apples" in the auction business.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

About Wilford

I met Wilford for the first time about 10 years ago. Wilford was 87 years old, spry as a cat, sharp as a whip and just about as cool an old man as you would ever want to meet. Wilford had a dog that I swear was twice as old as he was and the two of them traveled regularly to Florida to visit relatives. Wilford called me because he needed to get his basement cleaned out. It really didn't need cleaned but as he said it "I just don't want to leave any messes for my family to deal with.". This was not the first time that I had run into this type of thinking, so I did what I do best...bought all of his junk.

It started in the living room with some little figurines. It next proceeded to the bedrooms and dining areas for, guess what, more figurines. Finally we progressed to basement and this is where the story really begins.

The basement was filled with what most people would call junk, I wouldn't characterize it as junk but, well, it really was junk. So I looked, pulled, and pried out all of the items that Wilford wanted to get rid of, and after about an hour or so it was all unceremoniously piled up in the center of Wilford's basement floor. I shook my head, Wilford looked depressed and after a few minutes we set a price. I then carried all of it out the door and into my truck.

Since most of it was in fact pretty worthless I did what I always do with this type of stuff, and that is try to make it someone Else's problem. So I sold almost all of it off to some unwitting fellow who was selling his version of antiques at a local flea market. The only thing that I kept were a couple of figurines and a large box of letters. The letters and figurines ended up at my house and guess what, into the basement they went. A direct line from Wilford's basement to mine.

Seven months passed from the time that I purchased these items to the time that I actually looked at them, I should have looked much earlier. As it turns out these old papers were actually documents from a partnership that was formed in the 1830's to operate a toll bridge in Western Pennsylvania. It was really cool stuff. Everything from the actual partnership agreement to financial information on how much the bridge earned from operations. Oh yeah, there was one other interesting thing, Wilford's ancestors and my ancestors were the partners on the bridge!

As incredible as it may seem, there it was in black and white (well really yellow because the paper had aged and changed color), Wilford's great great great grandfather who's last name was Fasset was in business with my great great great great great great great great (I'm really not that young) grandfather Dangerfield.

After realizing what had occurred I immediately contacted Wilford to tell him about my discovery. He was as shocked as I was. We had a great time looking at all of the papers and talked for a couple of hours about what we new about our families migration to Ohio and then to the Youngstown area. When I originally purchased these correspondences I had no idea what history I had discovered. I did the right thing, I offered the papers back to Wilford. He looked at me and said that it was as much my history as his and that I should keep them. I said thanks and we once again went our separate ways.

It has now been quite a few years since this happened. I was never really sure what ended up happening to Wilford and his old dog, but some years later I did see that his house had been sold to someone else. I still have all of the documents tucked away in a safe place, who knows maybe in another 175 years one of Wilford's great great great great grandchildren will randomly come into one of my descendants lives to once again rediscover this great family history.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Graduation Day!

Tomorrow I will be doing something that is highly unusual for me. I am taking a Saturday off. There won't be any garage sales, no auctions, no flea markets. No digging through box lots, no haggling for a better price, no hours spent driving from place to place. I haven't purchased three newspapers, I haven't planned my routes, I haven't checked and rechecked auction zip and craigslist. None of my normal weekend rituals have been set into place. This weekend has been reserved. It has been reserved for over 22 years. It is the day that Rachel, is finally graduating!

Five years ago she first expressed an interest in pursuing a degree in art from Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD). At first she had a lot of detractors. Was she crazy? Why go all the way to Columbus to get, of all things, a degree in art? Who needs a degree in art anyway? Can't anyone draw a stick man?

Well she wasn't crazy. In fact she was more than sane. I have to say with a great degree of pride that watching here grow in her chosen career has been simply, "a blast". Her determination and drive has just been amazing. Her accomplishments, far beyond expectations. Her skills phenomenal.

So, today I am officially taking a day off. Every parent out there wants to see their kids succeed. So far I am 6 for 6. I tell everyone that I see that there is no such thing as luck. I am going to stick to that...except on this one issue. I am truly lucky to have the kids that I have.

Rachel, great job, congratulations on accomplishing what at times probably seemed impossible. It is my greatest hope that whatever you choose to do good health, success and happiness follow your every step.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Day at the Garage Sales! UPDATE!

It took about three weeks but everything that we bought on this garage sale day is now sold. Take a look and see how we did. The final selling prices, less selling costs, are posted in red.
Today was spent garage selling. Stephanie, Gus (our Boston Terrier) and I spent the morning running all over the countryside seeking out bargains, bargains, bargains. Did we find any? Well a few. Here is a list of what we purchased:

Blue upholstered wingback chair in great condition $30 $ 58.00

Blue upholstered bed seat $30 57.80

Black & Decker power sprayer $20 42.50

Black bookcase cabinet (KEEPER!) $40

Fancy wicker bed $75 106.50

Lenox Butterfly tea set NIB (pictured) $20 67.00

Lenox winter greetings lamp $5 11.00

Royal Worcester Queen Elizabeth figurine $5 23.00

Wroght iron and brass bakers rack $5 41.00

Herman Miller design chair and ottoman $15 28.00

Total $255 434.50
I missed on the Herman Miller chair and ottoman. I thought that it would bring closer to $100. Overall pretty good. I am happy with the results.

Most of the items that I purchased will be going into an auction Monday, April 26, 2010. The rest will either go to the flea market or onto ebay for sale. Just for the fun of it I'm going to sell the items and on April 27, 2010 I will post what they sold for. I am going to estimate the final selling price after expenses at $535. Stay tuned...and then see if you can do the same.
I will post a few more pictures as soon as I can (see previous post)!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Thursday, May 6, 2010 :

Woke up at 4:45am.

5:00 Showered.

5:15 Ate breakfast.

5:45 Walked up the street for a newspaper.

6:10 Checked ebay, emails, blog, auction zip.

6:45 Mapped out garage sales after reading paper.

7:00 Left house for 1st garage sale.

7:15 Got to sale before anyone else...purchased nothing. Complete waste of time.

8:00 to 12:00 Went to 18 garage sales. Bad morning, spent a total of $20, probably should have spent $0.00!!

10:00 Took a phone call from local storage company who needed an auctioneer. Set up appt. to see them in late afternoon.

12:00 - 2:00 Listed on ebay, cut grass and washed van.

2:45 Bought flowers for Stephanie (Mothers Day! Don't forget.)

3:00 Filled car with gas. Giant Eagle (local supermarket) Get Go saved $1.60 a gallon.

3:30 Arrived at auction that began at 4:00

4:00 - 5:45 Spent $375 at auction. Great auction expect to make a few hundred dollars.

6:00 Met with storage unit people.

6:15 Came to agreement to sell the units.

6:30 Arrived back at auction to meet Stephanie. She came there after work to see me. Of course I wasn't there when she got there. She didn't mind and was happy that I got the auctioning job.

7:00 Spent another $125 and stayed to the end of the auction.

8:00 After loading purchases from the auction got back home.

9:00 Too tired to cook so we ate out at Olive Garden.

10:00 Sat down at home.

10:30 Went to Bed. Stayed there until 4:40 Friday.

Pretty much a typical day. There are times when I go out and just can't miss. Today however the garage sales were pretty lame. I didn't let it bother me. I approach bad moments with the attitude that the next place will present great opportunity. It almost always does.

Sometimes the key to success is persistence. At anytime during the day I could have stopped, gone home to watch t.v. and relaxed. I didn't. Looking for every chance to "make it" finally paid off when I least expected it. The auction and the agreement to sell the storage units were the good payoffs. The rest of the day as far as business goes pretty much sucked.

This business can be frustrating at times. You work and work and work with what seems at the time, no hope of a payoff. Then out of nowhere good things happen. I guess that life in general is that way. The antiques business just magnifies it because instead of the payoffs happening on Friday's with the receipt of a paycheck, the payoffs occur every time you make a good purchase.

In life (and the antiques business) never give up. Persistence and a willingness to do whatever is needed to obtain your goals will always pay off. Even if it doesn't happen when you expect it to.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Heubach Piano Babies

Heubach is a German company that produced highly collectible bisque and ceramic items from the mid 1900's until the early 1900's. They were known primarily for producing bisque doll heads but also produced a line of bisque figurines. Piano babies were the most popular of these figurines.

You need to be alert to these highly collectible figures. Look for the markings on the bottom of the figures. The impressed mark looks like a rising sun. They are also sometimes marked Germany. As always condition is very important. Make sure that they are free of the three C's; chips, cracks and crazing. Don't be afraid to step up on excellent condition figures. Babies like the one pictured can sell for several hundred dollars.

Avon Bottles

Avon bottles were one of the items that really lost in the Internet age. These novelties were sold with a perfume that could make the best of us sneeze until our eyes fell out onto the ground. They show up just about anywhere many of them still in their original boxes with, of course, the wonderful perfume still contained within. No matter how cheap they seem to be don't be tempted to buy them. These fall into the trash it column. Supply is high and demand is very low. So unless you need a gag gift for Christmas time.....


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Women's Underwear

I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on this particular type of collectible due to my vast experience in handling them. That right! Thongs to Grannie panties I've seen them all. Every time that the opportunity arises I will examine, touch and even look inside every pair that I can possibly get my hands on. I have examined them at flea markets, auctions and garage sales. Most of the time people (women in particular) look at me with complete disgust and condemnation. That dirty old man touching women's underwear. How could he?


Everyone listen, there's money in them panties. No, I'm not talking about 5 year old used underwear. I'm talking about a little known about market for unused women's undergarments from the 1960's and earlier. Why unused? Lets not get gross here, although I'm sure that there are people with unusual fetishes that is not what this is about. It is about filling niche in the vintage/antique clothing industry. Namely Hollywood, and movie making.

Hollywood? Yes, Hollywood. Think about it. The movie industry produces hundreds of films in any particular year. Most of these films strive for complete authenticity in every facet of their production. When you watch a movie based on a 1950's theme would you expect to see a 2010 Honda Accord driving by? The answer is certainly not. The same can be said of the clothing that is used in the productions. In that same movie would you expect to see your favorite actress in a bedroom scene scantily clad in a Victoria's Secrete thong? No.

Authenticity in movies is important. The desire to be authentic extends to the dainties that the actresses wear in the roles. So guess what...there is a need for unused women's underwear. Whenever you are at a sale where old clothing is present always take a look! Amazing enough it does turn up.

How much will they pay? Well, I have sold vintage unused underwear (panties) for prices exceeding $400 a pair. Yes, I will repeat that over four hundred dollars a pair. Bra's typically sell for $50 to $200 each. It is important to note that this is for unused, mint condition undergarments. Buy it only when it is in perfect condition. Is there money in women's underwear (take your mind out of the gutter now)? An emphatic YES is the answer. Don't forget;


Clean, mint condition

With tags

1960's and earlier

Finally, you will most likely be the only person at the sale to know about this one. Because of that you will be able to buy them cheap, and coincidentally make a lot of money on them.

Cash it in!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Washing Machine meets Camera!

So, how are all of you doing? I've been remiss the last couple of days not putting up any new posts and I do have a reason (excuse). It seems that my camera came up missing. I've gotten into the habit of carrying the camera with me wherever I go. It all started with a few missed opportunities to get photo's for what I thought would be interesting stories. The common sense answer, keep your camera with you at all times. Great idea except for one thing, remember to take your camera out of your jacket pocket on wash day.

You see, my wife is a very diligent keeper of the home. Everything is clean and in order, all of the time. This is a good thing because I do not necessarily follow this same creed. I have been known to well, "put things away" by leaving them in a spot where I hope that she will not find them. In this case I foolishly left my jacket laying by the computer (on the floor in a knot), in my basement office. When wash day came, she of course picked up my "dirty" jacket and into the wash it went, camera included.
Oops! Getting old is not as fun as the commercials would have you believe. I know that everything from incontinence to denture cream awaits me but I had no clue that senility would strike so early. First, I forgot to hang up my jacket, second, I forgot about where the camera was and finally I forgot about my wife's obsession with cleanliness. The result; I'll be getting a new camera!

Although I pride myself in being able to sell just about anything this one may be beyond having a value. Maybe if it dries out a little? Any offers? Feel free to shoot me an email.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rogers Flea Market

Once in a while I actually have to get out and work for a living. The overwhelming amount of time that I spend "buying" stuff to sale has to be tempered with the need to obtain new cash so that I can continue to get "fixes". Yeah, I'm a hopeless "JUNKIE". I have spent time in the gutters going through trash, I have spent time sneaking into garages in the hopes of finding unknown treasures and yes, I would even sale the family pet "Gus" so that I could get more stuff.

No, I really wouldn't sell Gus, but I do have it pretty bad. So it was off to the flea market. Rogers, can be described using many adjectives: dusty, hot, huge, fun, great, crowded, tiring, impossible, fantastic, too early, too late, cheap and unusual. It is all of these and many more. My day at Rogers actually started two days before when I reserved a grassy spot along a gravel road. When I called I actually got one of the few remaining selling spots available for the day, number 2032. Well over 2,000 vendors were set up on a beautiful sunny Good Friday and the number of buyers, phenomenal. I estimated the crowd at around 60,000.

So, how did I do? Fair. The dealers that usually comprise around 70% of my sales were as always, very good. The general public sales seemed to be weak. It wasn't so much that they were cheap or that they were not finding that special item to add to their collection, it was that they weren't looking at all. I spent a large portion of the afternoon watching people just walk by. It happens like this sometimes. Too hot, too bored and just not ready to buy. When this happens I just sit back relax and watch.

If you have never tried selling at a flea market you should. You will be amazed at not only the people, but what sales and for how much. I was lucky on this day it was sunny, warm and not too hot. Overall, a plain great experience.

So give it a try. The recipe:

Throw a few tables into the back of the mini-van

Take a little bit of change

Toss some junk (I mean antiques) into the van

Get there early

Sell it as fast as you can.

Good luck!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Atmos Clocks

Sometimes I'm really smart. Sometimes I'm really stupid. I'm really smart when I go to an auction and find a $200 treasure in the bottom of a box lot that I just paid $3 for. I'm really stupid when I go to an auction and miss a $1000 treasure because I made an untrue assumption.

Remember the old adage about the word assume? Assume; it makes an ass out of u and me. Well on Saturday, I managed to make an ass out of me. It all started with a typical household auction. I got to the auction my typical 1 hour prior to its start. During the preview instead of doing my review of every item that would be offered for sale that day, I instead became involved in a long conversation with the auctioneer who happens to be a good friend of mine.

We talked about golf. Not Tiger Woods golf, we talked about our own miserable game. He told me in detail about how poorly he played last week. I in turn told him about how poorly I play every week. He told me about how he was going to get lessons. I told him about how every lesson I ever had made me play worse. Then we talked about bowling. He told me about how the season was over and about his 194 average. I talked about how I went bowling once this year and about how my 13 year old daughter beat me. We then talked about.....

And so it went. I spent 50 minutes talking and 10 minutes previewing. It seemed like plenty of time to preview to me due to the fact that the sale was mostly household items. I proudly discovered a set of flatware that I knew was worth $250, I ascertained that one lamp was worth $300, I used superior intellect to determine that a set of three prints was worth $60 and I confidently concluded that a plastic bag filled with Euros was worth $30. Everything else was well, junk.

STUPID!! The exact adjectives and colorful metaphors that I used to express my disgust with myself should not be entered into a blog designed to be "family" friendly. Overconfidence, not paying attention and yes, assuming were my downfall. I should have looked. I should have known. I should have paid attention. Instead of talking I should have looked at every item. I should have known that every item deserves to be properly previewed. I should have paid attention during the selling of the item because even after everything else I still had the opportunity to correct the mistake.

I allowed myself to not see what was right in front of me. I go to auctions every day and every auction seems to have some type of anniversary clock. After seeing several thousand of these clocks I just stopped looking. They just are not worth the effort (except this time). They are only worth a few dollars (except this time). You don't even need to bother looking at them (except this time).

O.K. Atomos clocks, as described in an advertisement for them:
ATMOS clocks are technological marvels. Inside each clock are a hermetically sealed capsule that holds a combination of liquids and gas that expands and contracts as temperatures rise and contracts as temperatures fall. This motion constantly winds the mainspring a variation of only 1 degree centigrade being sufficient for two days operation.

Every ATMOS clock is made entirely by hand, and with some models, a single clock takes over one month to produce. The incredible precision of the ATMOS manufacture produces clocks that have an expected life of over 600 years.

New cost: over $4000.

Over the years I have seen thousands of anniversary clocks most are not worth the time of day. Never ASSUME that because 99% of the time that something is true that exceptions don't happen. Don't let your arrogance stop you from examining every item because you think that you already know the answer. Pay attention! Because even after everything else that I have said I still had the opportunity to correct it when the auctioneer announced that he was now selling an ATMOS clock.

The final analysis of my errors. Used ATMOS clocks sell for between $500 and $3,000 and I never looked at it. I had a great conversation about golf. The clock that I did not look at sold for $90. Stupid

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lionel Train Sets

Lionel and American Flyer are two types of trains that everyone should be keeping their eyes open for. The golden age for toy trains was in the 1950's and 1960's. Train sets were one of the greatest gifts that a young man could get during this period in time. Because of this trains in good condition command high prices in today's market.
This set was a Pennsylvania freight set that was of 1950's vintage. We sold this set in 2002 for over $1,200. The set had the original engine, cars, track, transformer and switches. Keep an eye out for the diesel engines in particular. The diesels seem to bring better prices than the steam engines because fewer were produced. There are also sub collecting groups for "S" gauge, "N" gauge, LGB, HO and others. So pay attention whenever you see trains at the garage sales, flea markets and auctions.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

And They Call Themselves Professionals

I am an auctioneer Licensed and Bonded by the Department of Agriculture in the State of Ohio. I know that the title Licensed and Bonded by the Department of Agriculture in the State of Ohio is a little on the long side but that is how we are required by law to present ourselves. The laws concerning auctions and auctioneers are both complex and strictly enforced. One law that the legislators apparently missed was the one on stupidity.

Auctioneers don't have to be smart, nor do they have to apparently be good photographers. This wonderful photo is part of an online auction that is currently being held. Shame on the auctioneer for putting on such a poor photograph. Presentation is going to be one of the major factors in the determining the final selling price. If this were a live (onsite) auction the lousy photo would not be acceptable, when its an online auction only, unspeakable.

People selling their own items on a website such as ebay can photo their items however they want. It is their own personal property and if they are willing to take a loss on it due to sloppy photography thats O.K.. In this case someone went out and hired a licensed auctioneer to sell their items. The auctioneer apparently convinced the seller that an online auction was the best option for them. I guess that they forgot to tell them about their inability to take a decent photo.

Choose your auctioneer well! Ability to call an auction is a small part of the job. Knowledge about what you are selling and obviously the ability to properly promote, in this case photograph the auction are extremely important. I may be leaving you under the impression that I am not happy about this poor example, you would be right. I guess this is an example of brutal honesty.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Madame Alexander "Glinda" Doll

Madame Alexander Dolls at one time were one of the most collectible dolls ever produced. When I was in my early 20's I worked in the toy department at a major downtown store. For those of you under the age of forty; downtowns at one time had stores that you could actually shop at, unlike today's modern downtown districts that are full of empty buildings (oxymoron) and sports arenas where the big draw is the annual empty parking lot show. Anyway, on the days when shipments of Alexander dolls were received the employees were expected to go to their "call" lists to make sure that all of the potential Alexander doll buyers were notified of the new arrivals. The collectors would actually rush down to the store so that they could get the best picks from the shipment.

Great story, but what are they worth today? Well it depends. We need to answer some questions first.

1. Do you have a 6" or 10" doll?

2. Do you have the original blue box?

3. Is yours "vintage" from the 1970's or earlier or is it a modern McDonald's version?

4. Do you smoke?

5. Was the doll ever in a house where someone smoked?

6. Is the doll missing any of the clothing (including shoes)?

7. Is the original tissue paper present?

8. Does the box have any foxing?

9. Is there any musty smell to the box?

10. Has the doll been exposed to sunlight?

11. Was the doll displayed and exposed to dust?

12. Has it been played with?

These are just a few of the questions that you may have to answer before you can sell the damn thing.

O.K. here are the answers to the basic questions above:

1. 6"

2. yes

3. yes, 1960's

4. no

5. no

6. no

7. yes

8. yes

9. no

10. no

11. yes

12. no

Good now we know all of the pertinent facts. Your 6" doll in the original blue box with the original tissue paper that is a vintage 1960's piece from a non smoking home that has a slight amount of foxing (wear) that doesn't smell musty that was not exposed to sunlight but was displayed and was never played with (major run on but I am doing this to make a point!) is worth a whopping $15.00. STASH IT! PLAY WITH IT! GIVE IT AWAY AS A GIFT! But don't spend a lot of time worrying about how much it should be worth.

Check every Alexander doll out, there are exceptions! Some Alexander dolls are great. This one is simply too common.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

German Bisque Figurine's Black Americana

What a great set of Black Americana. The grouping of 4 children sitting in and around a treasure chest has a high collectibility.

This figure was impressed Germany and also contained some identifying numbers. The piece was in great condition with no chips, cracks or crazing noted. Damage can be a killer on the value of any type of antique or collectible. The great condition and subject matter make this bisque a real winner. Cash it in at around $250.00.

Email me your photo's & questions

Do you have something and you just don't know what its worth? Send me an email with photo's if you have them and I will answer them. Anything from lamps to coins.


Do you like the format? Do you have any suggestions on how and what you would like to see?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

So what do you do with an old bowling ball? A sphere of rubber or plastic with 3 holes drilled in it. You could use it as a planter. I have seen people paint them and use them for lawn ornaments. Cannonball? Boat Anchor? Pretty much a useless item unless you have dreams of one last 300 game before retiring it.

They don't sale at garage sales, auctions or flea markets. They are too large to be used in boccie tournaments. They make lousy cat toys (even with a little catnip sprinkled on it ). So what do you do?

Trash, Trash Trash! Two great ways to get rid of them. The first one is simple put them out at the curb. Your trash man will hate you for putting such a heavy item out but oh-well. Second, go out and bowl one last game with it and accidentally forget to take it home with you. The bowling proprietor just loves getting free bowling balls so make sure you go to a place where the chances of anyone recognizing you are zero. One exception wooden balls (not to be confused with brass). So if your balls are made of wood make sure you have someone check them out before put them into the trash.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Willie Stargell signed baseball

Spread some chicken on the hill and get out your green weenie! Alright not all of us were fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates back in the 1970's but these would have been some of the things that you would hear when listening to Bob Prince announcing a Pirates game. Willie Stargell was one of the most prolific home run hitters of the time. In a day prior to steroid accusations when baseball ruled the airways, Willie, was a baseball hero.

As a kid I would listen to the games on a daily basis. Bob Prince announced the games in a way that was Pittsburgh all the way through. But it wasn't just Pittsburgh. Every team had its Willie Stargell, every team had a Bob Prince. Ball players would sign bats, balls and just about anything that a fan would offer. Sometimes they wouldn't.

Many baseballs (or anything signed for that matter) were not signed by the players. These items could have been signed by anyone from the bat boy to the team secretary. Why? The players just didn't have the time to sign every item that was presented to them. So the duties were passed on to the next available person.

So, how do we know if it is a real signature or not? Well if you were the original owner and you are willing to verify that you were present when it was signed is one way. Another way is to purchase a ball from a reputable company that deals in only authentic balls. The first is free, the second can be very pricey. The real problem is that the reputable companies that sell the signed balls weren't around when Willie was playing.

About the only other way to verify the signatures is to send the signed items to a company that verifies that the signatures are real. I checked online and found several that will verify, grade and provide a certificate of authenticity for around $20.00. You will also have shipping costs to add to this making the total closer to $40.00.

What is Willie worth? If it is authenticated and graded reasonably high, the price would be around $100.00. Unauthenticated baseballs sell for around $40.00. The question comes down to is it worth it to get the ball authenticated? The answer sometimes. My real response would be it is worth while only for the top players on the most popular teams. Willie was enormously popular in Pittsburgh, not so much in Cincinnati. Another Willie, Willie Mays would fall under the category of top player on one of the most popular teams and signed items by this Willie should be strongly considered for verification. Oh yeah, there is a possible negative outcome and that is your signature is not real. In this case you spent money to find out that your coveted baseball should be used as a dog toy. Sometimes we do lose on our gambles, stay tuned next week we are going to talk about how to loose money.

Fans are fickle. If a team is having a great year, guess what, the value of any collectibles for that team go up dramatically. If the Pirates have a great year this ball will be worth more. If they have a bad year less.

For the time being I'll probably hold on to this ball. Not only was Willie a childhood hero, but the last couple of years the Pirates were pretty bad. So, GOOOO BUCKOOS! So that someday I'll be able to sell this ball.


Monday, March 29, 2010

The Whiskey Jug

Sometimes the most significant moments in your life occur without your ever knowing it. This old whiskey jug was one of those moments for me. As silly as it may sound this old piece of pottery may have been the beginning of a lifelong passion. The whiskey jug purchased long ago was really the first exposure that I had to the antiques business. So here is the story.

Aunt Gladys

Aunt Gladys (my mothers sister) in a crazy way, is the reason that I'm in this business. My father passed away in a professional drag racing accident when I was 6 years old. When this happened in the 1960's women's liberation hadn't quite taken hold yet. My mother had to retrain and reinvent herself from housewife to worker. Since daycare was still a future luxury my mothers family stepped in to help fill the gaps of raising me. Grandparents, Aunts and Uncle's all helped in raising a somewhat independent young child.
Aunt Gladys was quite an interesting person. She believed in aliens, ghosts and Ouija boards. She smoked like a chimney, could swear with the best of them and had a family with 5 children. When the time came to help out with a young nephew she was always there. School days and summertime's were spent under her care. Crazy philosophies aside, she also had during the 1960's a passion for collecting mason jars and stoneware pottery. I was often taken along on the jaunts out to a local flea market called Theron's. At the time it seemed as though we were going on trips to the end of the world. The drive to Theron's seemed to take hours ( it was really about 20 minutes ) as an adult I would complete that same trip hundreds of times.
At Theron's we would peruse the booths for the rare and unusual. I can recall seeing my first nickelodeon there. I can still remember a clear as day the endless display cases filled to the top with some of the greatest treasures that a young kid could imagine. We would spend hour after hour viewing all of the great items and after careful inspection the days purchases would be made. On one of those trips the a stoneware whiskey jug was obtained.

Being only 8 years old at the time of the purchase I was not allowed to ever touch the coveted jar. Although it was only worth a few dollars we were taught to treat it with the respect that it deserved for surviving to such a ripe old age. From the day that it was purchased I was enamoured by that piece of pottery. I would watch the whiskey jug as it was moved from place to place in the house. In summertime it would find itself on the front porch, fall would find it decoration the kitchen, winter usually meant storage in the basement and spring would bring about its annual rebirth towards its summertime vestige. That old stoneware jug just always seemed to be there.
When I was eleven years old when one of those fateful announcements of change was set upon me. Aunt Gladys, Uncle Bill and Skip my cousin would be moving. Times were hard in the construction business that Uncle Bill worked in. The rumors of employment in the construction industry in the state of Florida prompted the move. They first visited to confirm the rumors. Once confirmed the plan to move was put into action. A date was set for the final move and it was dicided that a garage sale would be held to get rid of everything that could not be taken.

And there it sat. That coveted antique that had been so carefully purchased 4 years before. I was now a 12 year old future entrepreneur with a dream of owning my very own whiskey jug. I eyed it wistfully hoping that somehow it would be mine. The price, a whopping $2.00 was well beyond my meager means. I paced, made countless inquiries and had the saddest looks that I could muster on my face. Finally my Aunt to took notice. She wouldn't just give it to me but she did reduce the price to the now affordable .25. The journey to my stash of cash was immediate. I produced a dime and three nickles for payment and that great treasure was now mine. I ran home and immediately and put it into my room, ecstatic over finally having it all to myself.

The whiskey jug has been with me ever since. A few years ago the handle was broken. It has been used as a bank and as a home decoration. It has spent time in the limelight, and it has been housed in the garage. It is one of the few items that I have never considered selling or giving away. Its current value on a good day would still be only a few dollars, but to me it is priceless.
It has been over 40 years since the purchase and I can still remember it as if it had occurred today. I am writing this because Aunt Gladys passed away this morning. I wish that I could step back in time and relive those trips to the flea market, but even though I can't the memories created from looking at an old jug are golden. I can't help but wonder how much different my life would be without the trips to the flea market, without the purchase of an old jug and without having her around to influence my life. Today, what seemed to be such an insignificant event at the time ultimately put me on the path to being in a business that I love so much. That old jug today is full, of memories. I have never been completely sure about the definition of a family heirloom before today, but now I am. Is that jug worth a million dollars, I don't think so, but it is priceless, absolutely. Aunt Gladys will be greatly missed.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bernard Bloch Amphora Vase

What a weekend! I held two antique appraisal fairs, worked two major auctions and was interviewed for a morning television show. Today's story is about amphora pottery. A piece very similar to this turned up at the weekends appraisal fair. I was able to identify it as amphora and I properly appraised it $6-700. The question was raised on one of the marks found on the bottom of the vase. The unidentified mark was a simple BB. Although I did not know exactly what the marking was I assured its owner that finding out would be very simple.

There are days when it is beneficial to be lucky instead of good. The very next day while performing the auction duties at a very prestigious auction being held by Boardman Auction Gallery, guess what turned up...an amphora vase with the same exact markings on it. As luck would have it the auction company had already done my work for me. The piece was identified as being done by Bernard Bloch. Bernard was actively using this marking in the late 1800's. Then to make it even easier yet, the vase sold for $700 virtually assuring me that my appraisal was correct.

Dumb luck? Most likely. Sometimes it is great when things just work out. CASH IT IN at a high quality auction house to get the best results.