Posts Tagged antique

Cap Pistol Collectors Go To The Round Up

16 June 2010

Bang, bang! You’re dead.  No I’m not. Yes you are!  Ah, the peaceful days of childhood.  Why is making noise such a large part of being a kid?  Whether we old guys like it or not, noise is fun.  One of the all time great kid noisemakers is the cap gun.  They first showed up sometime after the Civil War when gun manufacturers augmented their reduced sales revenue with toy guns that fired loud gunpowder caps.  They became a common American toy but really came into their own after WWII when radio, then television popularized western dramas.  When the genre faded about 1965 so did the cap gun market.  As the children of that time period grew up a collectible marketplace was born.  The number one driver collectibles in the economy is nostalgia.

The memories of shoot ’em up days is about to surface at auction. Kenton, Ohio resident Bob Bailey will be auctioning off his extensive collection of over 230 cap pistols at Kenton’s 17Th annual Gene Autry Days, June 26-27 at the Pokies Hardin County Fairgrounds.  Bailey’s collection is the largest in the country and features guns made by the Kenton Hardware Company from 1904 to 1950.  He has one Gene Autry model gun from each year of manufacture from 1938 to 1950.  His collection is on display at the Hardin County Historical Society.

It will be interesting to see what kind of interest will be shown in this day when children are more likely to relate to light sabers and and ecologically friendly fun.  Social change also made cap guns a less popular item on the American scene.  The 1960’s anti-war movement, the counterculture in general and academics in the field of psychology pointed to violence on TV and violent toys as influencing violent behavior in children.  The point is debatabe but the effects of the discussion can be seen on the shelves of  toy departments across the nation.  It’s clear that  the big box stores are kinder and gentler places than the old Woolworth’s stores of my youth.  And quite a bit more sterile.

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Ebay Does it For Free

9 June 2010

This past Sunday saw the end of my eBay auctions which were listed the previous week.  They did one of their rare free listing periods.  Essentially an eBay dealer could list anything without being charged an insertion fee.  You pay nothing unless an item sells at which time the usual final value fee is taken.  It’s a pretty good deal.  If you are selling on eBay always keep on the look out for these opportunities.

The recent occurrence offered free listing of auction style sales only from May 30 to June 1.  This gave a little boost to sales which typically flatten out around summer holidays.  When the nation goes vacationing in a big way they tend to leave eBay at home.  Memorial Day, July Fourth, and Labor Day usually show less activity in page views and watchers.  Sales can slow to a crawl. It’s a good time Casino En Ligne for dealers to take a break .

free listing opportunities sometimes show up around holidays.  This one a bit of an intrusion but as a dyed in the wool capitalist I rose to the bait and put up 22 auctions.  All I had to do during the holiday weekend was post the auctions on Sunday at 6:00, my favorite eBay sweet spot.  The real action occurred the following Sunday as the auctions came into their last moments and snipers came out of the wood work.  I didn’t make a killing but it did net me some much needed cash to feed to a hungry gas station.

Unfortunately this means that it will be some time before another free listing day occurs.  I always hope for one around Christmas.  They have done it before and when they do it is worth all the time and effort you can spare.

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How Cooperative Are You?

2 May 2010

The antiques business is filled with characters. It seems to appeal to people with eclectic tastes and individualistic temperaments. I have met very few boring dealers or serious collectors.  Not many people start up in this business early in life.  Most of us come to it after having gone through earlier job or career cycles.  Retirees are common in the trade.  There are a lot of part-timers supplementing their primary income.  Auctioneers are a whole subspecies of their own.

At one time I was in two different antique mall cooperatives. The personalities involved were interesting and sometimes challenging. A co-op is a weird assembly, a sort of  team effort but with the understanding that every man is in it for himself. At both places there was a requirement to work at the establishment for two days each month. I found the experience was good research into buyers habits and desires yet some dealers chose to pay other coop members to stand-in for them.

One co-op was in a large, drafty, former milking barn. Winter days found us huddled around the woodstove giving the place the ambienceof an old country store. The social interaction was great and we really got to know each other.  I heard stories of people from many walks of life.  I knew a guy who was an aide de camp to a general in WWII.  He was still in the army during the Bay of pigs incident in Cuba.  There were people who experienced the great depression.  We could learn a thing or two from those folks now.

In the other mall we had good heat and a tight insulated building.  we also had some old timers who knew there way around the business pretty well.  There was a husband and wife who were retired and sold antiques both to supplement income and as a way to stay active and engaged in the community.  He had been a music teacher at the local high school and she was a former District Justice.  They were both well read and didn’t lack culture.  He was a distinguished gentleman who seemed to be constantly in search of the “perfect Manhattan.”  They knew everybody and their kin for miles around and were a better guide to local history than any book was.  In his younger days he ran with some fellows who learned the trade by going “on the knock.”  Their guide to finding antiques was to look for old houses with lace curtains.  Nine times out of ten there would be an old woman living there and it could be well worth the trouble to stop and inquire if she had any old furniture she wanted to get rid of or a garage or attic needing to be cleaned out.

Most of the old guys I knew who had that kind of chutzpah had a barn stuffed to the rafters with good old stuff to sell.  While most dealers put a lot of effort into presenting a neat display of there wares in the particular booth they rented.  Some of these guys created a studied disorder that created an impression of clutter to draw buyers into the idea of finding special treasure amongst the obvious junk.  Some people seem to like something more if they “discovered” it.  The most successful dealer I knew operated this way.  Just keep things messy enough to make people feel that they are in terra incognita and hang up a 10% off sign and the world will beat a path to your door.  It always seemed to work with the tourists from New York.  and we loved New Yorkers.  But that’s another story.

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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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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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You’re Only as Antique as You Feel

30 March 2010

We draw a certain meaning from any work we do. One can’t be in the antique business and not think about time and aging.  You constantly handle artifacts from simpler eras.  Many dealers are old-timers who have been in the game a long time and know how much it has changed.  The insight I have drawn from antiquing is a change in the pace of life.  Thank you, industrial revolution!

Collecting antiques and displaying them in our homes is a recognition that we value history.  Estate sales  are glimpses into the past as lived by ordinary people with sometimes extraordinary bits of residue from historic moments.

I once knew a dealer who bought an old bottle at an estate sale in the Pennsylvania coal regions.  He was intrigued by the french inscription etched in the glass and the thick black liquid sealed inside with a crystal stopper.  It turned out to be oil drained from the engine of the Spirit of St. Louis at Le Bourget  airport.  When Lindbergh landed, the mob that greeted him began to take bits and pieces of the plane as souvenirs. Police had to guard it through the night.

Today’s advertising can be overwhelming, even annoying.  You will find any antique mall  and many shops to be chock full of old advertising treated as high art.  The multitudinous tins and bottles of kitchen and other household products are equally celebrated for their rarity and quaintness.  Back in the sixties we rebellious types bemoaned our materialistic throwaway society.  No archeology site is complete without it’s midden.  We celebrate junk by viewing it in a new light.

The average antique shop is not a palace of treasured items built by the best craftsman of times past.  genuine Chippendale is apt to already be in a museum or some stinking rich guys mansion.  Instead we have the horse collar from the days of slow transportation,  The typewriter from the days of slow communication, soda fountain stools from the days before fast food.  When my father was a boy no aircraft flew past the speed of sound. When my Grandfather was a boy there were no airplanes.  He plowed with a horse  and when he grew up he took a slow boat to Europe to fight in The Great War.

Maybe the slower pace of the past meant less luxury and harder work.  Although the reports I see on the news are indicating that Americans spend more time at work and of course the two wage earner family is becoming a necessity in this economy.  We are definitely on the go  and have adapted to a hurried lifestyle.

This became apparent to me a couple of years ago when I found myself in a situation where I was required to use an old rotary dial phone.  They were the only thing available in my world until about 1968.  I placed my finger in the hole corresponding to the first number and rotated the dial.  Then I let it return to the starting position.  This continued for all eight digits in the telephone number.  Half way through this process it occurred to me that the whole thing was very annoying.  Why should I be annoyed at a stupid old phone?

It wasn’t the effort of dialing that put me off.  My fingers were not weak.  I didn’t lack faith that the call would go through.  It was simply having to wait for the dial to return to the starting position before dialing the next number.  It was robbing me of precious seconds.  So, how pathetic am I?  I wonder if my Grandson will look back on the cell phone and think, ” how quaint?  Imagine pushing all those buttons.  Where did they find the time?”

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Thrill of the Hunt

15 March 2010

Antiquing is a gentle sort of blood sport. There are two breeds of hunter in this game, the auction assaulter and the flea market crawler. Auction houses and estate sales are competitive environments.  Flea markets are more like stalking game through tall grass. Each has it’s own approach and each can have a singular thrill.
     The fall of the gavel, the surreptitious signaling of bidders, the smell of old leather and furniture, the flashing of bankrolls are all part of a visit to an auction house. This is where antique dealers and serious collectors come to play. It’s a world where value is a measurement with spiritual dimensions. Amongst the box lots of miscellaneous leavings of peoples lives and the well cataloged treasures of rare and expensive antiques the real prize is the mystery item that has yet to reveal it’s value. There are hidden gems undervalued by the common herd but detectable by dealers and collectors who hold arcane knowledge of Ambien 5mg both the extraordinary and mundane artifacts of history. To be part of this club of seekers after the hidden prey of the auction house is to know the thrill of the hunt.
     Flea markets, Swap meets and garage sales are all about being the early bird. The good deals go fast and there is a lot of territory to cover. You have to develop a fast scan. be prepared to dig around in boxes and bins.  Flea markets are layered like archaeological sites. Don’t be shy.  Find a treasure and get ready to bargain for it.
     I tend to spend less for individual items at flea markets than at auctions. Auctioneers are usually more experienced at setting values. They are able to research their inventory and have some expectation of the final bid price. And you are competing with other highly motivated hunter-gatherers.  In future postings I will go into more details about these two basic hunting preserves and talk about some strategies for bringing back your quarry.

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