Posts Tagged sale

An Antique Attitude

23 June 2010

Som where on the way to 57 I became cranky.  Not mean and nasty, just cranky.  I got into the antiques trade as a stress reliever.  The law firm I worked in as a paralegal was a collection of tightly wound people crouching behind typewriters. They dug through endless file folders for the scattered parts of statutory weapons with which to bludgeon their prey.  You can probably tell I wasn’t happy in that job.  On Saturdays I spent most of the day cruising garage sales.  It was where I first got caught up in the thrill of the hunt.

Antiqueing brought me back into a saner world.  However, some baggage remains from those times and here I am – a crank.  let me use an “antique” word and say curmudgeon.  A curmudgeon is a guy with an antique attitude.  The motivation comes from the past.  you can’t be a proper curmudgeon without a sense of history.  The things I get cranky about are based on ways of living that the world has passed by.  I see a worn and work polished old hand tool and it seems like any one of various abandoned moral codes.  I have a fine old low angle block plane of a type Stanley doesn’t make anymore.  It is beautiful in it’s simplicity and reliability.  Only a cranky guy like me would actually use it in a modern electrified cabinet making shop.  It delights my soul when some young woodshop wunderkind asks to borrow it.  Why is there an antiques trade?  Because quality endures.

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Sales on eBay trend upward For Now

13 May 2010

As an early adopter of eBay I experienced the heyday of online auction fever.  It was an economic frontier, wild and lawless.  in time there were more rules and restrictions, some good, some oppressive.  Having taken a break from the collectibles business for several years my re-entry has been a little bit turbulent.  The inconsistency of eBay sales trends is  disconcerting.  I can hardly believe I could make a living on eBay at one time.

Living in a smaller more remote community than I used to is enough of a challenge.  The volatile economic and political landscape has a larger impact on my personal little corner of capitalism.  I remember well the big hits my business took over the years.  From the time I started sales were on a steadily rising slope.  There were seasonal peaks and valleys.  Aside from those, stock market fluctuations had a strong effect.  The customer demographic in my niche areas coincided with upper middle class educated people with a tidy supply of discretionary funds. Over all the trends were logical and easy to track.   in 2000 we had the dot com bubble popping rather loudly all over this land.  Sales tanked for a while then started a slow ramp up following the stock markets performance.

By midsummer of 2001 I felt that all the losses had been pretty well regained.  I was very hopeful for the future, very focused on inventory acquisition and exploring new niches.  One bright September morning I was standing in line to get a number at Conestoga Auction Company in Manheim, Pennsylvania.  People around me were speaking in hushed tones, telling an unlikely story about airplanes crashing into buildings.  I got my number then went to my car and turned on the radio.  The unlikely story was playing out in real time.  Surrealistically, the blue sky and crisp air of a Pennsylvania September morning which had put me in such a good mood contrasted strongly with the destruction being wreaked a hundred miles away in a city I have visited often.  The impact of September 11 affected so many things including bringing eBay sales to a crashing halt.  I don’t remember selling any of the 70 or so prime collectibles I had listed just the day before.

The recovery was a slow climb from a very low place.  A year later I was starting to feel confident again and was on a roll.  I was lucking into some very good buys.  The star purchases of the year were my $800 slide rule I got on a seven dollar tray lot and a ships half model I paid $200 for and sold for $1500 on eBay.  Then life changed and I set the antique and collectible high life aside for awhile.  I did a couple months run on eBay last summer and had some decent sales although the cost of gasoline ate into my profits along with eBay’s usual fees.  I set things aside again.

I am taking another run at eBay in a small way because I feel that if I’m going to spout off about in a blog I should also have some skin in the game.  I’m also defraying some of the expense of starting up my new media empire.   Hopefully my selection of advertisers will take up the baton and provide an income stream soon.

I find eBay to be fairly healthy right now.  I am starting slowly putting up about three to five items per week.  Most of it has sold and I had some very nice items including an aircraft loadmaster slide rule that went for $82.00 and as well as the $177 silk fly line that I blogged about in earlier posts.  This represents a small sampling in comparison to what I used to do with an average of 50 auctions a week.  By some standards even that was small time although my stuff is all genuinely vintage collectible.  I can’t get this in a container load from the far east.  I have to run the fence rows in search of my quarry.  Which is what makes it so damn sporting and so much fun.

The thing that encourages me most right now is the number of watchers and bidders I have been getting lately.  right now I have a n item up with 5 bids on it and 11 watchers.  That is the spirit of competition.  Ebay’s own fascination with it’s “stores” and “Buy it Now” robbed the site of it’s spontaneity and kind of missed the point of auctioning off unique or hard to get merchandise.  It would be nice to see things stay this way for a while.  That was the model that built eBay and will always be it’s heart and soul as long as they aspire to be something different that provides the thrill of the hunt for buyers and sellers alike..

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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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The Art and Practice of Time Travel

15 March 2010

Welcome to your voyage of discovery to the old world.  Antiquing is time travel simplified.  No need to involve physicists or secret government laboratories. Whether you are a dealer or a collector there is a lot to learn.  Fortunately it can be taken in individual bites.
This pursuit is not just about dusty relics from the distant past. Antiques are sometimes defined as all items over 100 years old. Of course that brings a whole new range of objects into view every year.  The antiques and newer collectible markets have merged solidly over the past several decades.  Many people are more fascinated by 1950’s era chrome legged kitchen tables than colonial ladderback chairs or Chippendale pie crust tables
It boils down to nostalgia and passion.  What stimulates your imagination, piques your curiosity or speaks to your soul?  Does an old rag doll give you a case of the warm and fuzzies?  Does a brass sextant in it’s fitted wooden box bring an image to mind of the ocean’s broad horizon and the tropical sun above?  Antiquing is one part learned history and two parts visceral excitation.  Mix and stir well.
Return to Adventures in Antiquing as we serve up stories, opinion and just enough education to be useful.  Consider us to be partners in time travel. To begin, we ask what is antiqueing all about?  It’s about the thrill of the hunt!  Keep your eyes open and don’t be squeamish about crawling through the underbrush.

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