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.....