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June 24, 2017

Antiques and Collectibles

How To Collect Art Confidently

I have spent the last six months as a Fine Art Auctioneer aboard cruise ships sailing in Northern Europe, the Caribbean, and Alaska. The crowds at my auctions were a mix of veteran art collectors, newbie art collectors, the curious,the bored,and the lost. Some of them bought art, but most did not. Those that did

pencil box

Some Surprisingly Valuable Household Junk

There is gold in your drawers that you may not be aware of. Don’t feel bad. We Americans are accumulators. Consumerism drives our economy; when we see something we need (or want) we pull out the plastic and buy it. Over time, our possessions go out of style or lose their appeal, and we opt

National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest

“To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books.” ― Carlos Maria Domínguez, “The House of Paper” Such is the guiding philosophy of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America’s (ABAA) annual National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. Launched in 2005, the event is open to college students

A Mis-identified Victorian Sideboard

From the Worthologist Archive comes a tale of misidentification at the hands of an errant estate auctioneer. The subject was sold as a “walnut Austrian wine cabinet.” A hand-written note in one of the drawers stated that the piece was “made only between 1870 and 1885.” An analysis of the photos accompanying the appraisal request

Investing in Art and Antiques

Arguments rage as to whether art and antiques are good investments. There was a time when we were encouraged to invest in art and antiques. “Buy low, and you’ll sell high,” we were told, as if collectibles had no place to go but up and all would appreciate at the same rate of return. In

The Contagion of Collecting

A lock of John Lennon’s hair just brought $35,000 at auction. The crusts of Justin Timberlake’s French toast sold for $3,154. A mucus-filled tissue used by Scarlett Johansson on The Tonight Show garnered $5,300. Have you ever wondered why collectors pay such outrageous sums for items that most of us would throw in the trash?

Collecting Candlestick Telephones

The eBay description is succinct, if not grammatically correct: “(sic)…the price is right 2 years ago I sold one for $4500 at a telephone show in Los Angeles… to own this phone is better than having money in the bank.” The item offered is a Western Electric #10 candlestick phone with a “Buy it Now”

Collecting Vintage Yo-Yos

QUESTION: What do Good Humor ice cream bars, parking meters and yo-yos have in common? ANSWER: Donald F. Duncan (1892-1971), American entrepreneur. It was Duncan’s ideas that sent children scurrying for nickels and dimes at the sound of a Good Humor ice cream truck, set thousands of adults to swearing at the parking tickets they

blunderbuss

Guns of the Mayflower

It seems that each Thanksgiving I happen upon a picture of a somber Pilgrim dressed in black, big buckles on his shoes, belt and hat, with a turkey slung over one shoulder and a blunderbuss firearm in-hand. This image has been used in cartoons, movies and ads for generations; I’m sure that most of you

spirit of 76

Collecting Vintage Field Drums

Church-bells ringing on Sunday morning are a familiar sound in communities all over America. There was a time, though, that the faithful were called to worship by the sound of drums. Thomas L. Purvis notes in his book “Colonial America to 1763” that the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony built a platform atop their meeting house

Minimizing Antiques Fraud

A few weeks ago here in my home county, seven sellers at the annual Hillsville, Va., Labor Day Flea Market were arrested for selling counterfeit brand-name goods. The goods consisted of cell phone accessories, jackets and perfumes with a street value of about $500,000. Four of the sellers were from Illinois, two from Kentucky and

Collecting Philco Predicta Televisions

“It’s truly TV today, from the world of tomorrow… it’s 1965… today!” This line from the 1958 Philco television ad exclaiming that the new Predicta model TV was “the most excitingly new concept in the history of television!” At the time, 1965 was a mere seven years away, and the announcer seemed confident that the

antique frames

Evaluating Antique Frames

There is one thing I can count on whenever I evaluate an estate: most rooms will have one floor and three or four walls. Consequently, well-decorated homes may have many more items on the walls than on the floors. Too often, estate executors spend most of their time inventorying the large items of furniture on

Collecting Vintage Salesman’s Samples

“She Ran Away With A Shoe Drummer” read the Chicago Tribune headline of April 19, 1890. The ensuing article told of a great scandal: a recently married young socialite left her husband to run off with a travelling salesman (“drummers” in those days were travelling salesmen, called such because they would “drum up” business for

The Format Wars

Those of us over a “certain age” have seen format wars come and go: VHS vs. Betamax; 8-track vs. cassette; Apple Mac vs. IBM DOS; Blue-Ray vs. High-Definition video. Each of these technologies served the consumer in a similar way. Each format required compatible hardware in order to make its “software” work; Betamax tapes couldn’t

Finding Value In Those Old 78 RPM Records

The bidding stood at $16,800 until the last few seconds of the eBay auction. Then, auction sniping software kicked in. Within seconds, the bidding soared to over $30,000. The final selling price of the item was just over $37,000. What was it that caused all the fuss? An old shellac 78 RPM record by Tommy

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