Monthly Archives: April 2010

A Devine Collection Goes Up for Auction

29 April 2010

When God speaks we tend to get our butts in gear.  How well are we listening and how quick are we to respond? According to Antique Trader magazine, word comes from Indianapolis that the owner of a major collection of antiques will be putting his cherished items on the block soon  This amounts to about 900 lots of vintage Americana at Dan Ripley’s Antique Helper during an auction May 15 in Indianapolis.

The collection is diverse, ranging from Arts & Crafts to outsider art. More than just the antique collection is intriguing. The owner, Mike Kirk of Hardinsburg, Indiana, says God told him to sell off  his antique collection.  This occurred at a mens’ conference where the Lord is said to have told Mr. Kirk to”Present my talents” to the church where the event was taking place.  I guess there must have been some mighty fine preaching too.

The collection includes over 200 paintings and 50 prints, Arts and Crafts pieces, a large amount of tramp art frames and vintage advertising. Kirk who is the creator of the Carhartt logo was a successful dealer in antiques and decorative items. It will be interesting to see what kind of prices this collection fetches for the cause.

The live sex videochat antiques market is one based on artifacts that are not necessary to our lives. Apart from a few people who utilize vintage tools which perform a unique function, we buy them because they have an aesthetic appeal or create a certain style for our homes or on our persons.   American acquisitiveness can reach into realms that are downright bizarre. This is not to say that we should all turn in our tchotchkes for sack cloth and ashes. maybe we just need a little self-examination occasionally to preserve our sense of proportion.

In this age of consummate materialism we don’t often see religious conviction motivating people to divest themselves of such worldly trappings. The “contemporary” Gospel is often taught in the context of laudable social behavior because the idea of revealing our sinful nature is wildly unpopular in today’s culture.  Theology is an ancient artifact, the patina that enhances all of civilizations learning.  The cross outshines any polished mahogany or gold leaf. Scripture urges all of us who possess ears to hear. It’s nice to know somebody is still doing that. I don’t know Mike Kirk but I hope that his motives are pure and that God is glorified by what he has so generously given up.

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Price Guides and the Dealers Home Library

25 April 2010

Whether you are a buyer or a seller it is easy to get burned by dealing from ignorance. I came into the antiques and collectibles on the cusp of a steep learning curve. I have always believed that when the going gets tough, the tough go to the library. Knowledge has never ceased to equate to power. When you first become fascinated with a particular area of collecting you have a need to come up to speed rapidly.

You never know everything there is to know about any subject. Be ready to continue your education as long as your involvement lasts with your collection. Some subjects are vast and varied. A subject such as militaria covers many events and so many different organized groups of people it is almost impossible to encompass everything. Conflict has been around as long as man has existed. On the other hand Mc Coy pottery began manufacture in 1910. 100 years as opposed to thousands. Still the wise collector has an intimate knowledge of his subject, large or small.

There is a large body of literature to help you be an informed shopper. There are books giving historical data of the artifacts you are interested in as well as price guides which catalog current values. These are usually based on prices realized at a broad array of auction houses. Illustrated guides are the most interesting to look through but it’s hard to fit a lot of items in a book when space is taken up by pictures. books that are made up of long lists with brief descriptions and prices may seem a little boring. However, from a pragmatic point of view they offer a lot of free cam4 chat bang for the buck.

What you need to know about any item is it’s age, condition, authenticity and value. Everything else is gravy. Get all the gravy you can but be aware of people spicing it up to make it seem worth more than it is. Experience will add to your fund of knowledge. Develop personal contacts so you can pick smart peoples brains like a garden.

Develop a personal library. the money you spend informing yourself is value added to your collection. There are a lot of good used books out there which can be had cheaply. Look out for badly outdated price guides they aren’t very useful. Modern publishing is a gold mine. The standard works can be obtained through Amazon.  A tried and true favorite is Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2010: America’s Bestselling and Most Up to Date Antiques Annual – 42nd Edition (Kovels’ Antiques and Collectibles Price List)

A very interesting source I found recently is  Collect.com This website features a huge selection of  resources in including price guides on many indidvidual collectible categories,  cd’s and dvd’s, webinars, and downloads.  The downloads really caught my attention.  There are such things as PDF versions of older gun catalogs, books on various kind’s of glassware, comics, surveyor’s instruments.  The areas covered are quite broad.  The prices are very reasonable.

The internet in general is a vast archive of the minutiae of our culture.  It is all by itself  the largest volume in your library.  What you need to know is either on the net or it can tell you where to get what you want.  So the next time the going gets tough, where are going to go?

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Sold! To the Man Hidden in the Crowd.

20 April 2010

Well the Hardy silk fly line provided some excitement in my house. It was interesting that I had actual early bids but things heated up again on Saturday and went back and forth into Sunday. It took ten bids in all to win this auction with one bidder responding to all comers until the last second of the auction when a sniper got the last bid in precisely at 5:00 the scheduled end of the auction.

The final price was $177.58. Not bad for a piece of old string purchased in a local antique shop. Throughout the week I got several requests for shipping costs to various foreign countries. In fact this item will be going to Luxembourg. Both of the other two auctions I had going resulted in items sold. A good week on eBay. I will set aside some of the cash to look for more items to sell. I have a lot of blog business to attend to so I did not post new auctions this week. Next week I may try a few interesting aviation items. Sure wish I could find more old string.


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Reeling Them In

16 April 2010

Silk Fly Fishing Line Winding Up Tighter

Encouragement is very effective medicine.  There is nothing like simply doing well to raise a person’s spirits.  My last post mentioned a Hardy silk fly line that I posted in auction format on eBay.  it feels good to be back in the saddle.

I am truly pleased at how this auction is going so far.  I currently have 2 bids with the current one at $102.50.  There are 16 people watching and 148 views.  I can’t remember when I last had such an awesome response.  I hope it’s a good sign for eBay.  One of the things helping out with traffic to the auction is how some fishing collectibles picked up on it and featured it on their website.  excellent free advertising.

Going Global is Good


There has been inquiries from two potential bidders on this item asking about foreign shipping rates.  One from Austalia and the other from Hong Kong.  Every eBay item should attract so much attention.    Ultimately it is about real value which is inherent in the craftsmanship of the merchandise.

Check in on Sunday at 5:00 Pacific time to see the outcome.  even though I am surprised to have seen this much interest so early in the week the real action usually happens in the last minutes or even seconds.

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Diving into the eBay

13 April 2010

Once upon a time in a land on the other side of the continent I hacked out my living trading in collectibles. I came to it as an alternative to working as a paralegal.  About the time I got fed up with lawyers and their barely disguised ethical deficiencies the internet gave rise to a whole new way for people to part from their money.  EBay emerged from the internet on a mercantile flood tide.  I was already situated in an Antiques mall after spending several months researching the business and gathering some inventory.

September of 1996 saw the quiet arrival of ebay which soon rose to make a big noise in American culture.  I was what they call an early adopter.  I was into computers and they fit with my new business so I was off and running.  Those were the good years.  The site had lot’s of traffic and everyone seemed to get into the spirit of auction style bidding.  The fees were well below anything you had to pay at local auction houses.

Ebay has it’s ups and downs.  I noticed a trend that matched the stock market generally and consumer confidence indexes more specifically.  for the most part I did okay all the time with nice upward movement during the holiday season and immediately after.  Things began to deteriorate when the Dot com bubble burst in early 2000.   Ebay rallied but September 11, 2001 brought things almost to a halt.   Christmas sales were less vigorous than prior years I hung in there and began to see a comeback in late summer 2001 (your mileage may have varied).

About that time other forces brought changes in my personal life.  I relocated from Pennsylvania to Washington.  The area I am in is not a good hunting ground for antiques and collectibles.  I dabbled in eBay occasionally but haven’t gotten  much out of it.  Until two weeks ago It was a year since I posted anything on eBay.  I figured that if I was going to shoot my mouth off in this blog I should be willing to get back in the game.

Diving in feet first I posted two items.  They were a felt pennant souvenir of the Golden Gate International Exposition 1939-40 and a  WWII silk survival map.  I didn’t put high starting bids on them, just $18.00 AND $12.00.  I got bids and had both sold and shipped out in good order.  The next week I put on just one item, a WWII yearbook from the airman’s training school in Garden City, Kansas.  It went for $35.00.

Not a rapid start but I have been selling everything, That’s the way I like it. The trend I’ve noticed for a long time is a lack of competitive bidding. So many buyers seem content to go for things with “Buy it Now” status. That’s fine for new items you could actually get at a store in your own city. I tend to use higher starting bids now so that I don’t take losses. I like everything to at least break even.

This week I had a pleasant surprise. I posted three things among which was a Hardy silk fly line. This is a great little fishing collectible from a bygone era. It comes from a day when fly-fishing was often done with superbly crafted bamboo poles using silk lines and gut leaders. they are a thing of beauty in both there appearance and utility. This particular line is in it’s original box with all the original labels. I have a good idea of it’s worth and started it at $97.00. I had a bid within a couple of hours. better than that, I have 10 watchers and have 64 views so far with five days left. All the other items did not receive more than a half a dozen views.

could this be a return to the good old days? Well maybe for this item. I know there are still buyers in touch with the concept of quality. Let’s hope for a marketplace that gives us all opportunity.

If you are interested in seeing the item I am talking about follow the link: Vintage Hardy Silk Fly Line

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Time is Money – in a Bottle

12 April 2010

I’ve done a lot of talking about value in this blog.  The influence of auction prices is a starting point for appraisals of antiques and collectibles the world over.  There are several regularly published price guides.  Some people swear by them others swear… well they use them as a starting point.  I can imagine that a lot of the standard price guides have gone a bit stale.  The economic woes we are all suffering have surely taken a toll on prices realized at auction.

Incredibly there is still some ground breaking action in the markets.  A recent article in Antique Trader magazine headlined the setting of a new world record for a bottle at $100,620.  I have to admit, I’m rather impressed.  Of course this is a genuinely old item with an interesting historical provenance.  This bottle is known as the “Firecraker Flask.”  Blown in blue glass by the Kensington Glass Works, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. sometime between 1820 and 1840 it’s color blue is particularly rare.

The bottle commemorates the deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both of whom passed away on the 4th of July 1826.  The bottle was formerly in the collections of  William Pollard and Warren C. Lane, Jr.

The former record was  set by American Bottle Auctions of Sacramento, Calif., which involved the sale of a Bryant’s cone-shaped Bitters electronic cigarette for non smokers bottle.
That one realized a price of $68,750 in 1999.  That’s a pretty amazing jump considering that there is no government stimulus cash for clinking bottles program.

When records such as this are broken we take notice.  It sends folks scurrying to their basements with unrealistic expectations.  Still it’s nice to know that somebody out there is ready to spend some serious cash on nonessential items.  The antique and collectibles trade is rife with events like this.  Boom and bust are doled out in approximately equal proportions.  Remember the ripples that went through the economy after the World Trade Towers were brought down?  Social upheaval has a chilling effect on an industry that is based on buyers disposable income.

The long term outlook for the economy still seems uncertain.  The wise player in this game will ride the rallys and plan for the downturns.  Call it market surfing.  Keep your eye on the waves and don’t be afraid to get your feet wet.

Knowledge is Power

Keep yourself up to date. You won’t find out what you need to know on CNN or FOX. Listen to the buzz around your local antique mall and flea markets. get the latest price guides at some place like Amazon. Read the regional antique trade newspapers. It’s war out there and good intelligence is priceless.

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Hammer and Tongs, Allies and Enemies

4 April 2010

Auctions are great places for people watching. There is usually an eclectic mix of personalities and most everyone there has an agenda. The crowd divides into two basic camps: dealers and non dealers. The two groups are not in open conflict but there are tensions.

I started going to auctions a long time before entering the antiques trade. I remember that dealers were kind of looked on as greedy and not operating completely above board. When my status changed from collector to dealer, my attitude changed. I still recognized a kernel of truth in my former way of thinking. Dealers dominate the room.

As a new dealer I was roundly ignored by my colleagues. After a time I became known in the trade and found that there was indeed a sort of brotherhood of dealers. In the auction house environment this was manifested in informal agreements.

This became apparent one day when a fellow antiques dealer standing beside me at a preview opened a line of questioning I had not yet run into. he must have noticed that my examination of items had certain themes or areas of interest. We got to talking about the merchandise and he casually offered that he would not bid on the items I was clearly interested in. Implicit in this was an assurance that I would likewise refrain from bidding on items he was concentrating on. Okay, I could see the advantage.

This sometimes goes according to genre. The furniture dealers will stay away from the glass who stay away from the old books who stay away from the old advertising, etc. This is okay as along as nobody is in collusion to drive up prices.

Casual deals are made all the time. It doesn’t give you exclusive control of bidding but it does cut down on a little bit of competition. keep in mind if you are interested in a cut glass vase and somebody else wants it too, then it’s just a matter of who has the most money and motivation. This is why it is so important for a dealer to know his market.

I was always a electronic cigarette drops niche marketer antway. Why buy something that is outside your area of expertise? Focus on your own auction and stay on the money trail.

One of the most interesting and entertaining characters in the auction room is the person who buys out of emotion or sheer desire to have that one thing that is sure to blind him like a brand new silver dollar reflecting the noon day sun. Such a person is liable to get hijacked by shills. I know, shills are illegal and immoral. They are associated in some way to the auctioneer 9paid to perform, keeps teir brother-in-law off the street) and deliberately drive up the bidding. It’s extremely hard to exposed their misdeeds. Your best defense is to bid wisely and deliberately.

On the other hand, it’s very entertaining to sit and watch a good honest bidding war run around the room. It happens because there is a truly rare and precious item on the block, personalities are colliding or two people are just turning to ashes in the heat of the moment.

You see it coming when the bidding gets above what the average Joe sees things go above pocket money level. There is usually a murmur at the hundred dollar level. The dealers generally have some snse of the market in higher end shops. They aren’t excited yet. if the bidding continues at a steady pace with no hesitation the room will go very quiet. Everyone gets caught up in the moment and heads start to swivel looking to identify the combatants. The tension builds until the auctioneer has finally called, “sold!” Applause often follows with perhaps some chuckling by those who have inside knowledge.

I’ve seen this happen many times for various reasons. A common one is the result of family members having a show down. “Grandma said I could have her sewing box when she was gone.” If you didn’t get get your due from the will then the estate sale is your second bite of the apple.

Find a good auction house to attend regularly. There’s no cover charge and on a good day it’s better than TV.

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