Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Hat, Stephanie & Me

On several occasions I have spoken about how this antiques and collectibles business is a great way to give couples common ground. Whether you are a husband and wife, boyfriend / girlfriend, boyfriend / boyfriend, girlfriend / girlfriend going to auctions can be a great way to make your relationships better...most of the time.


Recently we attended an auction that had among other things a great vintage top hat in its original leather case. During the preview I made the statement to Stephanie that I really liked the hat and that I would like her to bid on it. She said "O.K., how high would you like me to go?". I told her to go to at least $100.00 on it. The first look on her face said it all, to put it as simple as possible, she thought I was crazy. Not the "Oh, you like it a lot and that's O.K." crazy, but the one that really says "get the f*!& out of town" crazy.

We trust each other. This is probably one of the most important things that you need to have between each other if you are going to go to auctions. TRUST. Even when it seems as though one of you is crazy. Sometimes one of you just knows. Stephanie relied on that trust to bid on the hat for me. She ended up paying $60.00 plus the buyer premium. In this case I was right...for the wrong reasons.

The hat by itself would most likely sell for around $150.00, not bad, I was quite pleased with myself for the good purchase. But of course there is more to the story.
Lesson number one is trust, lesson number 2 is know each others strengths. Some of my strengths are 35 years of seeing everything from doghouses to diamonds sell, the ability to see values on items that I have never owned before and patience when it comes to buying. Stephanie is amazing at research, looking at every single item no matter how deeply hidden it may be in a box lot and keeping my greatest weakness in check, organization.

Back to the hat, Dave (me) brought the hat home and threw it into the pile of things that he is going to get to some day, after all the purchase was completed, time to move on. Stephanie (the organizer), wasn't satisfied with that. Now it was her turn.

As I was watching television that night, Stephanie was "playing", or so I thought, on the computer. Her playing resulted in several notable pieces of information.

1. I bought the hat, she actually looked at it. The first thing that she found was a pendant that was in the bottom of the box. The pendant was for a 1924 American Bar Association convention that was held in London, England.

2. The leather hat box had the cruise lines labels on it. She managed to not only find the cruise line, but also found out that the hat went on the trip to London with its owner for the convention.

3. By tracking down the initials on the hat box she determined who the person was that went on the trip to London, for the convention.

I meanwhile enjoyed many reruns and the Cleveland Cavaliers 20th loss in a row.

So what does all of this mean. It means that we will most likely get $300.00 for the hat instead of $150.00. Know each others strength's. Trust each other. I may have taken the initial gamble, Stephanie turned it into gold. This is just one example of how we work together, it is always a total team effort. But, it would never work without the trust and without accepting the fact that neither one of us knows everything. For me Stephanie is the reason that I am able to stay in this business.

Finally, mistakes happen. The day will come when one of you will pay $100.00 for a hat and it will be worth $5.00. Shrug your shoulders, learn from your mistake, do not place blame and go on. Remember, the next time it may be you.

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