Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Japanese Figurines / Occupied Japan

Post war Japan produced millions of ceramic items that were sold in the American Market. Many of these figures were marked Occupied Japan, some like these were simply marked Japan. Occupied Japan markings were often used immediately after World War II because of the poor quality of the items being produced. Companies such as Noritake did not want their name associated with the sub standard items that were being produced directly after the war, as an alternative they (and others) used the Occupied Japan mark.

Over the years Occupied Japan items have been alternating cheap and cheaper, todays markets are equal to cheapest. There just does not seem to be any demand for these items. If they sell at all it is for small change, figurines like these will bring a dollar or two each.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Salem, Ohio Wood Carving

This is a local piece from Salem, Ohio. Completely hand carved by a local man, this intricate piece had quite a few of the attendees at the show talking. The man who brought this in told us about how his neighbor made these wood carvings and gave them to his friends. He added that the man had passed away and that this particular carving was pretty old, "about 30 or 40 years old". There was really not too much that I could say about it. Great work, cool piece and it most likely could be classified as local folk art...

The problem is that for folk art it just doesn't have the right look for today's market. Of course that could change in the future, but for right now it just doesn't have that "look". I explained that although I personally liked everything about it, that at this time its value would be relatively low. The man, somewhat disappointed in my evaluation, respectfully disagreed with me.

The problem with a collectible like this is they often carry a much higher value to the owner because of their personal connection to the maker. Unfortunately this does not translate into a higher price in the general market place. As a seller of antiques it is always important to remove yourself emotionally from the valuation process. A personal connection to an object is just that, a personal connection. Place yourself in the position of the buyer, be practical in your estimate of what a dispassionate buyer would pay for your piece, and if all else fails keep the item.

A New Dog in the House

That's right, a new dog. Ekho is her name, a 15 week old rescued Boston Terrier. Directly from Daisey Hill Puppy Farm, Ekho was destined for the water bucket. Apparently she had a nasty case of kennel cough and the local pet stores did not want to deal with it. So the local animal rescue, A Place Fur Paws, stepped in and gave her a new lease on life.

Stephanie is an avid proponent of dog rescues. As soon as she saw this little pup there was no doubt about what was going to happen next, she was coming to our home. The only problem, Gus.

Gus has been the best dog that anyone could ever want. For the last 8 years he has been a constant companion, loyal to a fault and one of the best behaved dogs that I have ever known. We just were not sure about how he was going to react to another full time dog in the house. So far, outside of a couple of short "doggy" discussions about dinner and sleeping etiquette (see Gus whispering in her ear), everything has been fine. Gus will continue to make routine treks with me to auctions, garage sales and appraisals, Ekho will protect the home front from all manner of evil.

So look out world, when you see some partially (alright completely) bald man with two Boston's walking up the driveway to your garage sale, it will be someone other that me. One nutty dog on a trip out is enough.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Steuben Glass Snail, What is a Photo Worth?

Internet selling is an art form. Quality and clarity of your photographs can mean all of the difference in the world in the final selling prices of your items. These three photos are from different Ebay sellers that are trying to sell the same item. Which one would you bid on?
When you are listing on Ebay or any other Internet selling service your photo's can make all of the difference in the world. In our house Stephanie rules in this area. She consistently takes good clear photo's, the result, higher final selling prices than our competitors who are selling similar items. Take the time to get good photo's. Keep your dirty fingernails, photo's of naked Grandma and family pets out of the photo's. Remember its a business, no one else really cares to see glimpses into your personal life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


My sister is a professional piano teacher. I remember listening to her play every day when I was a kid. There was even a time when she tried to teach me how to play, that didn't work out so well, it seems that all of the family musical talent went to her. The family piano was a painted upright that sat in the dining room of our home in Austintown, Ohio.

So, today's question is, what is the families upright piano worth? In most cases, nothing. The biggest reason that the family upright has no value is the average family can purchase an electronic keyboard for around $100. They have virtually no weight, can be put into a closet and when Jr no longer wants to play it can be put out to the curb with very little effort. On the other hand an upright piano weighs around 800 lbs, takes up an enormous amount of room and they routinely need tuned.

What I also find to be one of the great ironies of the antiques business is the huge number of pianos that you find in peoples basements. I am not sure about why anyone would want to put that large of a piece into the basement, I can guarantee that one of the considerations was not about ever moving it back out.
They are usually bargain priced because no one wants them, not even for the scrap metal in them. Absolutely stay away from them, they just aren't worth the backache.

Greater Youngstown Home and Garden Show

The last major show of Winter / Spring 11 is here. Last chance for a free appraisal and cheesy entertainment. Come on out on Saturday or Sunday from 2-4 to find out what the values are on your antiques and collectibles. Also stay tuned to the morning TV shows to see a live interview on the show. The Show will be held at the Austintown Plaza in the Expo Center. Free entry tickets are available at all local Giant Eagle Stores.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thank God for a Twelve Year Old

Thank God for a 12 year old. It took 6 weeks, a can of paint, a box of buttons and a ten dollar bill but someone finally took the television. It wasn't a grandma who was taking it for her cats to watch, it wasn't a mechanic looking for a TV for his workshop and it wasn't one of the astute dealers in the mall, it was a bored 12 year old. Today after being coerced by his parents go see the antiques in the mall a 12 year old did what no other could do, he looked at the price. The workers at the mall told me that he came up to the desk and asked if it was right, "Does the free TV really have a ten dollar bill on it?". When the answer came back as a resounding "Yes" he looked at his parent and asked the now obvious "Can I have it?", and out the door it went.

I am not sure that he was the first to see it, but he definitely was the first to react. Let this be a lesson to everyone, pay attention and look. My wife Stephanie definitely fits into this mode of thinking. She spends the time and digs through each and every box lot at the local auctions. Her patience with paying attention and looking at every single item usually results in handsome payoffs. I am fair at it. When I am by myself I am reasonably diligent. When I am with Stephanie she is the champion.

The ultimate moral of this storyline, pay attention to every single detail. Just like never knowing when a free item will show up at the local antique mall with a ten dollar bill attached to it, you will never know when a diamond ring will show up in a bottle of buttons. PS, always check out my booth at the Wizard of Odds 2, I might do this again!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

45 RPM Records

I clearly remember the first 45 record that I purchased all on my own. It was at Murphy's in the Uptown area of Youngstown, the song was by Ohio Express and it was called...Yummy Yummy Yummy. OK give me a break I was 8 years old. I paid 39 cents for it and if my memory is correct it eventually became a Frisbee used in the great Record Toss War of 69.

But what is it worth today? Not much. I looked up this classic on Ebay and found the current selling price to be around $1.00. This is still almost three times its original cost but the reality of trying to make a living by selling 45 records for a dollar a piece just isn't going to work. So, should we ignore 45 records? Absolutely not. Just because Yummy Yummy Yummy doesn't sell for hundreds of dollars it is important to know that many 45's do.

Keep an eye out for early soul records. Although they are rare they do turn up. When you do find one the prices can be in the thousands. Check out Ebay and do a high to low search on 45's and learn to recognize the types of records that the collectors are looking for. If all else fails, pull out your Trutone Portable record player and dance the night away

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Metal Sculpture

So whaddyathink? The antiques business is full of risk takers. Some are fools, some are genius others just plain gamblers. I tend to be all three wrapped up into one. On this particular day the gambler in me showed up and in the end I will really be either the fool or the genius. This beautiful statue (6 foot tall) popped up at a local auction last week. After viewing it I made a few calls and came to the conclusion that it may be worthy of taking a chance.

It can be best described as unusual. It appears to be of a women having a baby with some type of helper in the catchers position. It is made out of some type of metal that a magnet will not stick to. There is some damage to it, the hands are both broken off and there are several small pieces either loose or missing. It has an aged patina, but also has weld marks on several of the limbs connecting them to the body. It came out of a very good area of Youngstown, and the owner claims that it was purchased from a museum and is in excess of 600 years old.

I think its newer. But I just couldn't resist it. Crazy? Probably. But I sent photo's off to a major auction house who specializes in these types of things. What do all of you think?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Etsy and Joshua Mest

I spend my days and nights looking at all types of antiques and collectibles. However once in a while something that isn't an antique needs to be talked about. This is one of those cases. These two pens were made by a local artist who impressed me with his skills. Joshua Mest is their creator. Joshua's pens, ornaments and bowls are meticulously crafted. When they were presented to me at one of the antiques appraisal shows they came with a question; "What should he do to sell them?".
One suggestion that I had for him and all of you is Etsy. Etsy is a website that allows sellers to exhibit a wide variety of items in a more retail type environment than websites such as Ebay. It seems to cater to crafters, artisans and decorators. So for those of you who are looking for a way to show off to the world your special talents, give Etsy a shot and if you need a really great looking pen...
Joshua Mest

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Next Up! Summit Portage Home Show

Next weekend we will be conducting free appraisals of your antiques and collectibles at the Summit Portage Home Show being held at the Summit County Fairgrounds. We will be on stage March 18, and March 20 from 2-4 pm. So grab your stuff and come on out for a free appraisal.

TV Update #2

Its still there. I'm going to try a 20.

Mahogany Dining Room Set

I used to sell sets like this one for $900 - 1,000, not anymore. I actually had a difficult time selling this set for a mere $250. Changing styles made these antique sets victims of a free fall in price. It seems to be an absolute sin to sell a set with 6 chairs, table and china cabinet for that kind of money but that is just how the market is right now. So when you see one of these sets selling for what seems to be a bargain price be careful, you may be getting stuck with something that will be difficult to sell.

Like New! End Tables and Coffee Table

It doesn't have to be an antique for you to make money on it. This modern coffee and end table set is easily sold for $125. This is really good if you purchased it at a local auction for $75, it is really bad if you bought it new for $500. Keep an eye out for good buys on new furnishings at local auctions. You can save a bundle by being alert and keeping yourself flexible on styling.

Herend Rothschild Bird Tureen & Underplate

If you are lucky enough to own a Herend Rothschild Bird tureen with under plate it is probably time to cash it in. This is another estate piece that I recently appraised at $1,000! There is one currently for sale without the under plate on ebay for $1,100, Replacements sells this piece for $1,399. Pricing differences will always occur in the antiques and collectibles market. You will rarely find consistent pricing on items since each individual seller can ask whatever they want for the items that they are selling.

Hepplewhite Chest of Drawers

Hepplewhite chests date back to the late 1700's through the early 1800's. This piece is of mahogany veneer with an inlay around the drawers. Look for dovetails on the drawers and champhered drawer bottoms. This piece has the original pulls and has been refinished. The refinishing cuts the value of this piece by a minimum of 50 percent. I appraised this piece for $1,700.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mettlach Vase

Often when people hear the word Mettlach they immediately start thinking about steins. Although Mettlach steins are one of the most highly recognized collectibles in the business keep in mind that they were not the only items produced by Mettlach. This vase stands approximately 20" tall and is highly decorated from top to bottom. It is stamped Mettlach on the bottom. The vase unfortunately has a small chip on it. That chip in this case is worth around $1,000. That's right, that one small chip reduced the value of the vase from around $1,400 to $400. Hopefully yours is perfect, if not remember that damaged pieces will have dramatically lower prices than perfect.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Items to Avoid...Televisions

1/2 price $8.00
Free! Plus $1.00
Home, disgust.
Paint! Buttons!
Back to Mall.
No sale.
Added $10.00
Still waiting.
Shop Youngstown! Is there not a soul around who would take this thing, remove the $10.00 and just throw the rest away?
I'm going to get someone, somehow to take this thing.

German Lithographed Wind Up Toys

Old Wind up toys seem to be hot in today's markets. This type of wind up was produced in Germany most likely prewar (1930's). This particular wind up was brought in to the Sandusky Home and Garden show last weekend. The toy when wound would squeak and the bird would rock back and forth. The manufacturers name is on the side and it is marked made in Germany. This particular toy recently sold for $125.00 on Ebay.

Keep an eye out for old German or Japanese wind ups. The wind ups that were produced post war in Japan also have a great deal of interest from collectors. Wind ups with the original boxes will bring an additional premium on the pricing. The post war Japanese pieces usually come in brightly colored boxes and are inexpensively made.

Friday, March 4, 2011

TV Update!

People smile at it.

People say its cute.

People are amazed at the low price.

People spend their money on everything else.

Still no sale!

Marbles Knives

Marbles knives are considered by many to be a premium hunting knife. Make it a habit to look at every hunting knife that you come across. Marbles are pretty easy to spot because they are typically signed along the top of the blade where it attaches to the handle. Vintage unsharpened examples will sell for several hundred dollars. Reduce the price for damaged handles, sharpened blades, chipped or broken blades and damaged sheathes. A typical used Marbles knife in fair condition will sell for $125-150.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

That *!@king TV

I tried. I really tried. First I attempted to sell it for $8.00. Then I made it free. Finally, I made it free, I even added money of my own in a desperate attempt to get rid of it. Today I gave up !

Totally frustrated by my inability to give the damn thing away I decided to drag it out of the mall and just plain get rid of it.

Cari Cucksey! Cash and Cari! REPURPOSE, REPURPOSE, REPURPOSE!!!!

How I ever missed this one we will never know. The solution was right in front of me all of the time. I didn't need to make it free, I didn't need to place cash on the front of it, all I ever needed to do was to repurpose it. After all if Cari can take a dirty shelf and by doing silly things to it make it sell, why couldn't I do the same thing with an old TV??

So the process began. First, I had to choose a design. I thought about using a Disney theme, but I couldn't figure out where to put Mickey's nose. Then I thought what about an adult theme, but I couldn't figure out where to put the particulars. So I decided on the tried and true, white paint and buttons. To the Home Depot for paint, back to the antique mall for a bottle of old buttons and to mom's house for the hot glue gun.

No, I haven't switched teams. So, whaddayah think? What would you pay for a
"Dangerfield Original"?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kalahari, Great Lakes Home & Flower Show

This weekend we will be at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio for yet another redition of our antiques and collectibles appraisal show. This is a fantastic venue with plenty to see from all of the local vendors. This show has great displays and of course free appraisals. So come on out from 2-4 PM on Saturday, March 5 and 2-4 PM on Sunday, March 6 for your free professsional appraisal.

Stetson Hats

Yahoo, giddy up! The Stetson cowboy hats are in. Basic Stetson hats sell for $50-several hundred dollars new. Believe it or not they sell for almost as much used. Keep an eye out for older Stetsons. They can often be purchased at garage sales and auctions pretty reasonably. I purchased this hat at a garage sale for $5.00. It recently sold on ebay for $45.00 plus shipping. The trick is as always...condition, condition, condition + original boxes (in most cases).

But guess what else you need to know about Stetsons. The fedora's (like great grandpa used to wear) are even better yet. Used fedora's can sell into the hundreds very easily and here the box isn't quite as important. So keep your eyes wide open and don't pass up what seems like silly opportunities.