Monday, December 27, 2010

The Future Holds Pickin' Fun!

Well, I promised you some more positive things in this blog, so you will get it.

Oh, and before I forget: "Smythe's Teeks" is a fictional store, and any resemblance to any person alive, nor dead in the previous posting is purely coincidental. All characters & situations were 100% fictional....blah, blah, blah.  I think I have any potential lawsuits for slander nullified with that...!

So, now you are down in the dumps about your "dreams" being shattered by being woken up.  AH, but wait! You can still TRAIN to be an antiques picker!

And how do you train  for that? By DOING!

My, you look confused! I tell you to forget your dream and now I am telling you the opposite?

Actually, not quite.

You need to learn...and you learn things best by doing them. You are far better to risk $2 on an item than $200 on an item...especially when you learn that they made repros of that thing...and they retail for $9.95 brand new...$6 wholesale, and 50 cents used....maybe even less than that brand new from a street vendor in India...

Send it back to the thrift only lost $2, not $200. You did gain something else.

$2 bucks.... a darn cheap price for a lesson you will never forget. Imagine if for every $2 of the multi thousand dollar cost of that college/night-school/university/correspondence-course/training STUCK in your grey matter like that $2 education? Man, you'd be a GENIUS in your field of training!

On goes your education. Don't go insane bidding on something at an auction...especially when it is based only on a gut feeling...and one that turns out to be just a mild case of gas, caused by the burrito you ate for breakfast on the way there.

Enjoy your weekends hitting the garage sales. Keep a tally of your expenses, how much you made on items, how much you lost, etc. Get a feel for it, but enjoy the thrill of the hunt...on a shoestring budget.

In some of my future posts, I will reveal some "picking secrets" to you. There will be things I learned throughout my career, and I will just hand them to you! I will reveal some valuable tips that will likely make you some money...or in the least open your eyes a little more to possibilities.  I'll even show you ways to "pick on the cheap" and not give your self a bad reputation as just a cheap S.O.B.  Heck, I will even instruct you on how to pick antiques FOR FREE!

But, I will leave that for future postings!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Day In the Life

As I mentioned in the last posting, I have seen more than a few articles online about how easy and profitable it is to get into antiques picking....

Ok...let's look at "Easy."

Yep, ok, admittedly it is easy to get into this business.....TOO easy.


Let's define "profitable"...

Good ol' Wikipedia's definition of "PROFITABLE"

Hmm...lots more involved in profit than you thought, eh?

Not worried?

So, ya scored something for $5 and it is a $65 item!

That equals $60 profit, right?

OH, geeze, shucks, there are those cash EXPENSES to factor in yet.

$10 in gas to get there...oh, lunch cost $7, tip is another 50 cents (ya cheap bugger!), oh, and $13.50 gas to get back due to the higher cost of gas in the area you drove to, wear and tear on the vehicle, chip in the windshield you got from the gravel truck that cut you off...well, lets just ignore those last two...hard to put a value on those...and don't want to make you too depressed...not yet.

Ok, so we have another $31 in CASH expenses...the sun shining in your eyes that is glancing off that stone chip until you get it fixed? Ya, just ignore that, 'kay?

And, you paid $5 for the item...

Ok, so we're at $36 that the item cost you...$29 profit!

Um, so, ya work for FREE, do you?

1 hour labor...$10 an hour...ok, not a bad wage...but $6 an hour less than your old job you quit to follow your dream profession

$19 potential profit....

Yeah, POTENTIAL...remember, you need to sell the item yet.  Uh-huh, at this point, you are still down $46!

So, put it in the box with your other finds. Toss it in the cab of your pick-up truck, and haul it down to your buyer of such treasures, about a 1/2 hour drive downtown.

You pull up in front of his store, park at the meter, noting it is 4:30 PM....and he closes at 5:00 PM. 

Hmm....You realize you are cutting it close, 'cause he tends to be busy, as he has a real good reputation for having great stuff, and you have to deal with him when he isn't busy with customers. Plus, Saturday afternoons he tends to be twice as busy, buying from other pickers who have finished garage sales for the day that bring their garage sales finds in this late Saturday afternoon.......and wow, it is such a beautiful day, sunny, but not too hot, not at all humid just warm enough to sun bathe and not get cold, but not sweat to death, either....remember 3 years ago when all summer you and your buddies/family went to the beach every Saturday? Wow, yeah, that was a great summer...was so relaxed when you went back to work after your 5 week vacation..nice to have seniority; got to take the prime vacation time...and you saved all those sick days for that extra week (hey, your nose is dripping from that summer cold! ...wipe it off! Yuck.)...yeah, *sniffle/snort*...ah, yeah, those bar-b-q's, the Sunday afternoon poker games with the buddies....for sure, some great times!

Oh well, beach is 2 hours drive away, gas is now getting pricey.  You only broke even playing poker, are saving some money on beer, too. Your other half is not complaining about Fred's smoking in the gazebo...mind you, she took up smoking again...and worked her way to her old pack-a-day habit.

 Still would have been great to take the kids to the pool today....but, hey, gotta make money to pay the bills....& pay for pool admission. Remember, they weren't impressed when you took them to the paddling pool at the park last Sunday at 3:00 PM, while you were sweating like a pig, looking like a homeless guy, after attending that auction where you ended up buying a pile of what was really just hard, sweaty, dirty work that you paid someone else for the "pleasure" of doing yourself...and the finale was a trip to the landfill to get rid of 99% of it after you found it smelled of cat urine...

Oh, HEY, reality just got asked a question....!

"How much do you want for the widget?"

"Just $39", you say, thinking that you do need to attempt to break somewhat even on that trip, "They're worth $65."

And, how did you come up with that?

It comes to light that you saw that the snotty dealer down the street had 2 on his shelves marked at that!

"Did you know yours was actually 10 years newer than those?"

Ahhhhh, crap....!

Ah, but this dealer/buyer is honest, and tells you that; oddly enough, it is a GOOD thing in the case of this widget!

Less were made during that period! These are quite RARE!


SCORE!!!!! *fist pump* *woot* *woot* 

"We're in the money, We're in the money...!"

He beamingly announces to you that it is actually worth....wholly smokes....omigawd...wait for it...

Whoopee..uh,...huh, uh, oh, wait a minute....

Only $100?

But the dealer down the street has two less rare ones priced at $65 each....but this "rare" one is only worth $35 more than the common ones?

Ah, but Smythe's Teek's down the street $65 ones are priced at triple what they are actually worth....and he has had them on the shelf for 12 years....Guess you shouldn't value your stuff based on some other guy's price tags...

And he also recently refused to buy one last week from Junkster know Bill, the guy who gets stuff from trash, no, not that're thinking of Weird Will....I mean Bill, the guy who sells his stuff dirt cheap all the time to anyone who will buy it, so he can buy food for his 5 kids? Yeah, him....

Any-hoo, he was wanting $7 for it..and it was in far better shape than the ones Smythe had on his shelf.....Snotty Smythe offered poor Bill a measy $1!


You also see that your buyer has one just like those 2 you saw on Smythe's shelves, but the one here is in much better shape...darn thing is near mint...! Makes yours look rough, even...

"Yeah, I bought it from Bill, gave him his $7. Really too much, and shouldn't have even bought it. Have 2 over there on the shelf at $20 each, and  I have 3 more in the back I bought at an antique auction a month ago, for $5 each. And, it seems like no one wants them anymore.  They used to be hot, hot, hot!  Not anymore, though, But, Bill said he's going to bring all of his stuff here first from now on...I guess we'll see if that actually happens, I'll be surprised...he always needs the cash, like, "right now", immediately, and I am not always open when he comes around....but, hey, he is a decent guy. Poor guy is just trying to make an honest living any way he can"

You are now thinking: Well, still, now I can get $50...right?

Oh, wait a sec....

As a dealer with the overhead of a store, you remember that previously he said he'd pay you 1/3rd of his retail for items worth under $100...

Initially you thought was a damn rip-off...but, when he pulled out some of his bills (how many dealers would have done that?) and popped out the calculator, and he quickly went through the numbers, adding up monthly expenses, the total of which made your eyes grow wide....and a week later you saw his business tax bill open on the counter (they charge THAT much for business tax?)....and that day the furnace in his store conked out, and you watched the counter while he had to hunt down a used part, which still cost him $300...that he had to install, because the local furnace guy wanted $400 for their labor, and would not install that used part, it had to be new or nothing....


Oh, yeah, remember that day you were there and that arrogant city's licensing inspector came in?
He nearly started a scene, snorting that he should issue the dealer a $1000 fine, just because he had those 5 sterling silver brooches in his showcase (yeah, the ones you sold him...the ones he paid you close to what he priced them at, just to bail you out of that bad deal you made 2 month ago) and he wasn't licenced to sell precious metals...He had to pay another $100 fee in addition to the $500 antiques dealer license..which was only $300 last year, but due to that old biddy...that pawn dealer's wife down the block, the one that complained that antiques dealers who were setting up in the area were cutting into her family;s "honorable" business (yeah, the pawn dealer couple who were convicted for selling baby food jars, with a little paint thinner in them, out the back door to those sniffers...yep, those sniffers that you seem to have to walk around sometimes when you come to sell stuff to your buyer..the same ones who smashed his window last year because he wouldn't buy the real "antiques" they brought in...the handfuls gravel they scooped up out of his parking spot.....Man, and that window cost him $600, remember? And it was a SALVAGED one, not even a new was going to cost $2000! )

So, you decided that 1/3rd for an item worth under $100 was actually more than fair, really, but that was only after you spent a week complaining about it to your cronies. You had to do some damage control after that, remember? You're lucky the guy didn't just refuse to buy those brooches from you after you slagged him like that...He called you on it...and you meekly explained that you realized you had over reacted, and that you came to your senses...You almost grovelled...but managed to apologized as best you could. You're lucky he saw himself in you...he told you a few stories of his start 30 years prior....he is a real interesting guy.

You sure found out how fast the grapevine works in this business, didn't you? Plus, if he hadn't bailed you out of the brooch deal your spouse would have had your neck for gambling the mortgage money on what you initially thought was a bargain of a lifetime....

Yep, expenses of a store were WAY higher than you imagined. The guy isn't making a great living doing that.

Looking around, you can still see quite a bit of the other dreck they (his wife and him) bought from you...seems like a fair bit of it is still on the shelves...and some of it is marked down to darn near what they gave you for it. 

Heck, he has treated you damn well, really....gone beyond the call of duty.

Ok, so, I guess we're looking at about $33?

He agrees, and pulls out $35...Crud, you have no spent it all at that last garage sale on the way here.

He says "No problem, we'll even it out on some other deal. I'm really sorry I can't use any of the other stuff...the store is quite jammed with that same sort of stuff right not is just not moving. Tastes have really changed in the last 8 years."

Glancing around his store you think, yeah, he is getting pretty crowded in here. There is more than one shelf that is threatening to collapse under the weight of what used to be desirable inventory...that now collects dust.

He thanks you for bringing the widget to him, walks over to the front of the store, flips the chipped "open/closed" sign to "closed." He clicks out a few of the front lights. Pops the cork out of a bottle of wine he pulls from behind the counter, offers you a glass.

You decline...The label on the bottle indicates it is pretty cheap wine, and looks like it came from a discount bin, seeing as the label is pretty ratty. You are a little spoiled with the $40 a bottle stuff. Been awhile, though, since you had a glass of that.  You did have a few glasses of a bottle last month...but, admittedly you didn't buy was handed to you by that buddy you used to go golfing with during those clear summer Wednesday nights, when you popped by his place after buying that cool old Hula lamp from that old lady. She happened to live near his place, so it was a convenient stop.

Your golfing buddy sure rolled his eyes when you showed him your prize; looked at you almost with pity, in a way, didn't he?  He did say he missed your company on the links, but not to worry, he had picked up a new partner.  

That weekly Wednesday evening auction was one you've decided you just can't miss....Early on you learned just never know what they will pull out of those boxes. Ok, so some of it is pure junk, but you did do really well a few times....made some good money...and remember the one time you did go golfing  instead of hitting that auction? It just happened to be the very night that the rude jackass (yep, the one that seems to beat you to some of those great garage sales) scored that pair of bronze statues in the box of worn out Tupperware, for the bargain basement amount of TWO DOLLARS!? No, not the  rearing horse he sold for $500...he got that at the estate sale...the one where you only had $20 left on you, they were priced at $40, and the seller would not go down in price...but the jerk managed to smooth talk another one of the sellers into selling them for $20?  I'm thinking of the Art Deco nudes he sold for $1000 on eBay, the week after he bought them. He had bragged about how they went for "thousands"...yeah, there are all sorts of people in this business, aren't there?

Heck, from that one score you got from the auction, that the $35 box that turned out to be a $400 sale for you! You took the family out for supper 3 different nights in a single month! Was almost like you used to do  when you were working, every Tues & Thurs night. Those evenings out to the fancier Greek & Italian joints in the trendy part of town? Yeah, in the area you don't bother going to garage sales at, because they seem to have just modern stuff, and they mark their used clothing and worn designer Gucci purses at "new" prices....tough to buy your shirts & jeans for yourself at those places,, basically no reason to shop those sales, really. You can buy your clothes at the thrift stores in the north part of town, at the same time you do on your rounds of them all on Thursdays....the day you are out until 7:00 PM, because there are a couple shops that don't close until 6:00 and 7:00PM.  Even tough to buy some clothes at the thrift stores in the south part of town; they price their shirts at $5, compared to $1.00 at the other places. LOL....remember when you used to pay $45 each for shirts? You have TWENTY of those same high-end shirts in your closet, and they cost you less than $30, TOTAL!

Hmm...Thursdays...Remember when you went to that cool little Irish-style pub near the office, at 3:30PM for a "business meeting" with Frank from across the hall ...drinks & that good 'n' greasy "pub food" food...little pricey, but damn good....and it was all covered by the company!

 Hey, remember there was an old beer sign hanging in there!? Maybe you could buy it and flip it over at the next flea market? YIKES,  that is next week! Got to get packed up for it! Need to cover the bill on the repair of your wife's car!  It is 2 months over-due.....When you were working that 9 to 5, Monday to Friday gig, you'd have a  a new company car every year. You did have to buy that half-ton truck, and needed it to be reliable...lots of money went into it. SO, for your spouse's car; instead of doing the leasing thing on a car that was maybe a year or two old;  you had to pick up that 15 year old Buick your neighbor's grandmother had in her garage...the one you scored at her estate sale for $500. Was little old lady driven, just like they say...too bad she never ever took it in for tune-ups...starting to cost lots in repairs...really more than it is worth now....hmmm.

The dealer notices you staring, rather blankly, but seemingly at the label, and laughs...

You "come to", snapped out of that little world in your head...

"This is NOT vinegar, my friend."

He proceeds to tell you about the Italian couple he met while on a house call at their home, where he spent some major money, presented him with a case of homemade wine. The stuff was made from grapes they had cultivated in their back yard, picked from vines growing them from clippings from some of the finest grapevines in Italy, which, apparently, the grapes only the finest winemakers in Italy use, and use only for their "masterpieces".

He also relates to you how it is best stuff he has ever had...far better than anything that he ever drank when he was wined and dined by clients in those Parisian cafes or those exclusive London night clubs.  That, of course, was when he was working at a 6 figure-a-year job, and travelling around the world. 

Looking up from his wine, he seems to sigh a little...."Almost seems like it was someone else's life I'm remembering, now."

He picks up the bottle and gestures with a pouring motion to the empty glass.

You smile...and even almost grin...this sounds like superb vino! Could be one heck of a treat! You are about to say "Sure!"..then your bubble bursts as you remember you assured your spouse that you'd be home by 6:00PM at the absolute latest tonight. She/he had to pick up part time job, so it is your turn to watch the kids tonight. Plus, you really need to clean up some of that really filthy stuff you pulled out of that basement sale 4 weeks ago...the stuff you have been putting off cleaning....Yep, the box that had that bottle with the rotting mouse corpse in the bottom. You need some fresh stuff for the flea market next week....and "eau du rotten mouse" is not going to attract any customers...

So, you shake your head, offer to him the fact you have to get home and the reasons why (death at the hands of your other half being one of them), and pick up your box of stuff that will now have to be blown out at the flea market next weekend. You say a goodbye, and wander to and out the door, directly to the passenger side of your truck...where you see a yellow slip of paper flipping in the light breeze.

A parking ticket.

You forgot to plug the meter.

It is only a mere $25, if you pay it within 2 weeks of the date on the ticket....then it jumps to $55.

Hmmm...cost on your $5 purchase, after factoring in expenses?


So, you are only $26 in the hole...

Oh, wait....

You were on the road for an half hour, and spent a half hour at the dealer's shop,, add your $14 an hour you figured your time was worth,  and you are $40 in the hole.

Oh, and a half an hour's drive home....tack on $7...

$ the hole.

Not quite like the hole-in-one you got on that one beautiful Thursday evening; when the sky was a beautiful red.  "Red at night, a sailors delight" Sailing...another hobby you thought about, but won't be taking up anytime soon...
I bet it will be a similar sunset tonight. Maybe you can wash that junk out on the picnic table in the back yard, and possibly catch a glimpse of it....


HEY YOU, I'm over here!

So, did any of that sound familiar?


Well, it could become familiar....and it is far more common scenario than you'd think.

Hey, SMILE people, there are happier tales and tips coming...stay tuned to this channel...all pickin', all the time!

I'm Telling Ya, Pickin' Ain't Easy!

So, after reading my last post you figure you still could make a living "picking antiques"? Yes, I did see and read the articles that are now popping up online about how "easy" it is to make a living "picking antiques." You will notice my name does not appear as the author on any of them.

I'm betting that if you follow their links and such, in the end they will want to sell you something, or there is tons of advertising all over and around the articles....maybe they will offer you an "e-book" or manual or something...or, they are making money on the "clicks" to the sites you end up on.

Beware...Pickin' Ain't Easy.

And beware of anyone who tells you it is! I have yet to hear Mike & Frank of American Pickers spout about how easy it is to make a living at picking. Yes, they make it look easy & fun, and, to a point, it is. If you hit that point will slice right through you, and you will suddenly realize you are resting your gut on the hilt of the knife...

If you plan to get into this biz to make lots of money, forget it. If you think you can just "buy old junk and sell antiques"...well, c'mon down, I'll sell ya a semi-load for $5000....heck, I'll be real nice....the load might even be worth $5000....

Oh, and keep in mind that I have a refrigerator shipping box to sell ya...real cheap, too...'cause you might need it when the bank forecloses on your house....

You need to wonder when this sort of line is posted:

 "When I lost my job, I became an antiques picker, and I made lots of money and I want to show you how!"

Doesn't it sound like every other "get rich quick", "make money at home sitting on your duff" and all the rest of the questionable "make money easily" pitches?

Yeah, "For 4 easy payments of $19.95" they will send you some bad videos....

Hey, I will tell you some valuable information FOR FREE!

Oh, wait, I have been doing that all along in this blog, haven't I?

Wait...check that out over there....

Now, for effect, I will climb up on this covered wagon belonging to one of those snake oil salesmen while he's out having a snort of gin at the saloon down the street....ooooof..ack, OUCH!...DAMN SLIVERs!....Oh,.man, it reeks of body odor up, to stand up out of the stench...cripes, whew, eww, talk about taking your breath away...and NOT in a good way....

Aah, oh, ok, here we go:

I am telling ye NOW, that YES, you can buy stuff at garage sales and thrift shops for a mere 25 cents an item...yes ma'am, only TWO BITS, a thin QUARTER, and you CAN sell some of those items for $5 - $20 PER item to antiques dealers all-day-long...and you might even make money, once you sell all the other 25 cent "dud" purchases at your garage sale.

Oops, I killed the pitch with that last sentence, didn't I?  Oh well, that is only because I believe in TRUTH in advertising...

Look, one of the issues is thus: KNOWLEDGE IS KEY!!! That is where pickers make their money in many cases. Yes, we get lucky once and awhile...but, even that "luck" is based on an EDUCATED guess, IE: a knowledge based hunch, and/or we recognize the quality of something. We already KNOW that the painting we are holding is REAL, and is OLD, and is well done...which indicates it could be a very good piece. 

Now let's look at the one the excited soul over there is clutching.... It is 1800s in appearance and style...and he is SO excited....just swooning and drooling over it, because it is signed by a big name artist nearly anyone would  recognize....ANd it sure looks like a painting....BUT, it is actually an "oilette."

No, it is not a painting at all. Basically just an "embellished" print. Still worth $125.00 for what it is...but not $1,250,000.  Bit of a difference.

As professional pickers/dealers, those "scores" we are buying are "lottery tickets" that we already know are winners...we are just unsure of HOW MUCH we will win. We might get our money back, we double, we might do far better.

If you know little about antiques and their MARKET values, where to sell, etc, etc, it is not a get rich quick business....

Even when you have a vast knowledge it is not a get rich quick business!

The odd person might actually luck out, and buy a fantastic piece for pennies on the dollar, and "get rich quick." However, I assure you, there are lots more who buy something for $100 and find out it is actually only worth $50...or $5....or 50 cents.

We all hear the fantastic stories....and of the true ones, 90% of them are FLUKES. That random person who knew little, not a professional antiques picker at all, happened to stumble upon a rare item (in behind the ugly print they bought, the rare Tiffany vase in with a box of junk, etc, etc) and sold it for a million bucks!

Yes, it does happen, but it is usually a pure fluke.

So, with all the long term, highly knowledgeable, very experienced pickers who are out there (and pretty much all of us are barely eking out a living when it really comes down to it) how do you figure that you will be able to make a living from picking, and support your family, by just jumping into the business?

Look, I realize it may be your dream to do this...but, please, take my advice, most of you need to do just that....

Keep dreaming.

I do say that in the most respectful way. This business can be a heck of a will chew-up-and-spit-out many people who try to get into it as a "profession." Some end up leaving their love of "old stuff" behind them....never to return....and that is a shame.

Oh, HEY, wait, is that one of the newbies in the back whispering "I think he's just afraid of competition!"

Ok, for those foolish enough to utter that...

Here is a hockey analogy (I am in Canada, you know...I think it is part of our genetic code to bring hockey into things...even when you are not a hockey fan):

Imagine a pick-up hockey game at your local rink or even a game of street hockey between the following teams:

Team 1: Wayne Gretzky, Dale Hawerchuk, Tie Domi, Theoren Fleury, Sidney Crosby


Team 2: You and 4 of your beer buddies....oh, heck, lets say FIVE of your beer buddies...wait, make that SIX...(and to keep this realistic, let's assume that you have no professional hockey players in your circle of 99.9% of the cases out there, that is a safe assumption.)

Now, before they get playing, do you want to take bets on the winning team being you and your buddies? Hmmm? Didn't think so (unless you are one of the five players on team one, that is.)

So, competition is not a worry for me. I have been in this a long time. I have been to enough garage sales where 4 dealers are walking out, and I still score some great stuff. I have picked enough attics that have "already been picked" and pulled out wonderful things. No, I am not bragging, I am just "saying" is our experience and our knowledge that make us money. Yes, I could go in to any pick after Mike & Frank (of AP) have cleared out what they want from a place and likely still pull out a load of good stuff, also. We all know different things, different knowledge, have different backgrounds, access to diffent markets, etc.
I am worried about some things, though.

What I am worried about is the number of people who are (not in order of importance):

(a) Going to get ripped-off, either on purpose, or inadvertently due to an amateur picker's complete lack of knowledge, giving professional pickers a worse name than we already have (which is usually due to the few scammers that are cocky enough to call themselves "pickers" and not what they actually are..."crooks".) The amateurs that make mistakes included myself when I was starting out.....though it was more over paying than under paying. But, a glut of over-zealous amateur pickers, with little knowledge about what they are buying, could be detrimental to the trade....and to themselves. If you grossly underpay for something, and fail to recognize that, or fail to compensate for it, there is a high possibility that the word will get around that you "ripped off so and so." It is really easy to get a bad reputation, and takes no work to keep it. It takes tons of work to create a good one, and still much more work to keep it! If you are SERIOUS and really think you can survive the hell that comes along with trying to actually earn a living at this...well, I'll tell ya, it does build character...! You'll have that, once you have been in it awhile, for sure...the stress lines come, the scrapes, cuts, etc, turn to scars, the hair turns grey (or your forehead gets longer).

(b) Going to get hurt going picking in places that hold hidden dangers. If you are from the city, grew up in the city, are rarely ever out of the city and are unaware of the hazards an abandoned farm site holds, DON'T risk your life picking it! I know nothing about old mines, so thus I do not venture into old  mines, unless I have someone with that sort of experience along.

(c) Going to go bankrupt.

(d) Going to have a formerly stable relationship explode into a divorce, separation, etc.

(e) and so on, and so on, and so on...

Ya get the picture yet?

Still fuzzy for some of you?
Ok, you might want to read my next post to clear the picture up a bit. Ah heck, everyone can read this one...C'mon, take a walk in a picker's shoes...It is sort of "Being John Malkovich" for the picking crowd....

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Face off!

Removed the trim ring form that clock I have been researching.

It has definitely been off at least once before.

Good news and bad news...

Good news, the dial is likely original, and in its original position. As for the trim ring, fairly sure it is original, also. Evident by the crackling of the varnish beyond its perimeter, and the intact nature of the varnish underneath it.

Bad news, no markings what-so-ever on back of dial.

One step forward, one step back.

Hmmm...Deja-vu...I think I have been here before.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

So, Ya Wanna De a Dealer, eh?

(IMPORTANT! Please note that the title above is to be said with a Jack Nicholson accent. Thank-you for your co-operation!)

I have been getting lots of questions about items from Facebook friends....people who just happen to have "stuff" and some who are starting to "pick", getting their feet wet, so to speak. You do get your feet wet in this business, at times...and I do mean literally...stepping in basements with a half-foot of water in your brand new work boots...christening them.....but, we're not talking about that....not in this blog, anyway.

 I don't mind giving "free advice," to a point.

Of course, I can not afford to be doing lots of "free appraisals," either.  Went over that whole "time is money" issue in a blog entry awhile back, as you may recall.

I do spend a little too much time yakking with folks about their finds; dispensing advice, assessing items, giving tips, etc.  I don't really make any money doing that. Haven't figured out how to, either. Should I pop a "Donation" button on the blog? On Facebook? With every answer I give and/or post I do?

Sure, I could charge appraisal fees and all that, but that is not quite what I feel I need to do....I just can't figure out some other way to make money from these "free" services. 

The doing "appraisals" for money thing is why I have attempted to sign up as an "expert" on that site I have been nattering and bitching about. I guess we'll see how it pans out. I am not interested in doing appraisals of estates, items, and collections for people's insurance policies and the like. That would mean I have to take a "course" on "appraising." I do not have money or time for that. Plus, odds are I'd end up spending far more time on research than I should, and end up loosing money.

I do know that if I get many more people asking questions about items, I am going to have to start charging...just to cut down on the it does take a fair bit of my time....and it simply doesn't pay the bills. The wife also gets annoyed with me spending the additional time online...which I also do understand.

Plus, I am a nice guy, so I will try to answer people's inquiries. What can I say?

If some TV producer wanted to pay me to dispense free advice I'd do it. Maybe something to pursue.

Oh, yeah, then the advice isn't going out really for "free" now, is it?

By now I bet you are thinking:

"What the heck does this babble have to do with the title he has on this post????"

I'm getting there, hang on...

So, the question that I posed in the title: Should you become an antique dealer?

Or, to rephrase it: Should I become a picker?

Answer: Depends.

Ah, no, not the adult diapers....

It takes up LOTS of, no, not adult diapers...focus here people, focus!

I don't want to burst anybody's bubble, dash their dreams, etc.

However, you need to be realistic when you are thinking about stepping full time into this business.

Do you really want to spend 10, 12, 14, 16, or even 18 hours a day working?

'Cause that is what it takes. I know some of you may notice I am on "Facebook" quite a bit from Nov to March. Part of the reason is that it is WINTER here during those months, and COLD, so I am inside working...researching, posting auctions, sales listings, etc, much of the time. I have inventory that needs to be researched, sorted, cleaned, etc. I happen to have a Facebook page open a fair bit, just to communicate with some of the dealers I have "friended", doing some networking, and to promote sales listings, etc. Not really there to chat....or, rather, that is usually not my intent. (But, yes, it happens, ok?!?)

So, I am online lots in the winter. Have tons of stuff to getting a website up soon (finally), and need to make $ also. I currently have no fully operating store front, really. I do consign some items at a friend's storefront in a nearby town, but the sales of the vintage items at the place is not exactly "hopping" this time of year, either. It is a small town...I know how slow it got in the winter at my shops in the city, so I do not expect much in a small town.

You folks who live in year 'round warm southern climes don't know how good you have it, really. Your retail sales season is so much longer, overall. I realize things like holidays and such might slow your sales, but nothing can kill your business like icy highways, closed highways, severe weather warnings, snowstorms, temperatures with windchills that freeze exposed skin in 2 minutes....shall I go on?  

You may now thank the god of your choice for where you live...

Really, though, I like it in Manitoba. It is beautiful, and the winter is bearable, even enjoyable, most of the time.  No worries about hurricanes, killer bees (they don't survive the cold winters!) and a long list of other scary/annoying things. We do have black widow spiders, though I think I have seen maybe one or two in over 20 years of picking through all sorts of places where they could potentially dwell.

And did I mention summer is GREAT?  I think we maybe appreciate it more, with the extreme temperatures we experience.

So, anyway, I see I went off on one of those tangents again.....

The thing is, it does depend on many things.

You becoming a full time antiques dealer/picker, I mean. Just a reminder of what we are taking case you forgot during the side trip I took you on, or your mind is still stuck on Depends diapers (you weirdo!)

Yes, yes....I know, you'll be wearing Depends by the time I finish this blog...ha, ha, ha.

Did I mention I am psychic picker? 

No not really....I'd have picked the winning lottery numbers by now.....

Ok, you can quit groaning now...If YOU get to tell a joke, I get to tell a joke!

Yeah, I sort of did both of them....

AHEM, *cough* *cough* Ok, so there is LOTS of time spent doing STUFF of all sorts as a dealer/picker.  So, first question is, do you want to spend time with your family? 

No family? Just a "better half"? Take note that spouses will resent the time you are spending away from them. Even if they are involved in the business with take off to an auction, and they end up stuck working the storefront, packing stuff for shipping the next day from your online auction sales, etc, etc...

It can take a toll on your personal life. Have lots of friends? But they aren't into "old stuff" like yourself?

Oh oh....

Much of a dealer's/picker's social life revolves around the business. Antiques shows, flea markets, going for lunch with other dealers after doing garage sales since 6:00AM, yakking while at another dealer's stores, going for beers after work to talk about the annoying pseudo-customer you had, coffee after that weekly evening auction, etc, etc...suddenly you realize that the majority of your friends are in the business in some capacity.

Now, if you are a "part timer", then this may not be the case. But, if you want to make your living doing this, especially in the financial climate we are in now, you are in for LONG work days. You will HAVE to socialize during "work." Oh, yes, you can work at this "full time" if you already have a bankroll and maybe sustain a separate social life...that is not difficult. But, after that bankroll runs out, and trust me, it'll be struggling along with the rest of us.

In all my "chatting" with other full time dealers/pickers, I do hear how tough things are for 90% of the antiques dealing population. Oh, when I say "antiques", I mean antiques AND collectibles.

Seems the "I paid my staff/employee(s) and there was nothing left for me" is pretty common right now among those who require employees....and Kraft Dinner seems to be on the dealer/picker supper menu more often than it used to be.

I realize that all the "Junk TV" (and I mean that in a complimentary way, 'cause I love junk!) like American Pickers, Storage Wars, Pawn Stars, Auction Kings, Pawn Queens, Antiques Roadshow (American, Canadian and the original British one),etc, etc, etc all make this business look "fun" and even "glamorous" in some ways.

But, remember, they are TELEVISION SHOWS. Yes, it is "reality" TV, but so is "Survivor"...and I don't find that show all that "realistic." (I am sure there are those who will oppose me on that statement...)

 You don't see the boring times, the stressful times, the "I can't pay my bills this month" times, the "I'm sick as a dog and can't go picking and flip stuff for a couple weeks, so we will have to eat expired bargain brand cheese and macaroni for a month" times, the trips to the hospital for tetanus shots, stitches, etc.

So, when I got an email from a Facebook friend posing a question, I answered him with truth and honesty.
His initial inquiry is as follows (in italics):

So, Mr. Fedora, I need your opinion as an antique dealer. I may have an opportunity to go into the antique business full time but I'm concerned about the long term income potential. If things work out for me, I'll have a decent secondary income for a while, so even if it takes a little while to get my income up as a dealer, I won't starve.

But, my question is what can I expect to make once I have a year or two under my belt? Doing what you love is great, but I still need to pay the bills. I've got a wife who doesn't work and 3 kids, so it's all up to me.

What do you think? Do I stand a chance or should I keep a regular job and just continue antiquing on the side?

Thanks in advance for your help!

* * *
In the long winded fashion I tend to use, I answered thus (also in Italics):

Bare truth? Don't do least not right now. Market in general is really soft at the moment. Antiques & collectibles aren't a big money maker when there is a downturn in the economy. Plus, the fact of the matter is, it is a TOUGH living.....I still have trouble supporting myself and my wife...if we had kids to support...I don't know where we'd be. My step-daughter is 20, and lives with her dad, who has basically been supporting her for the past 6 years...he's been in the biz a long time, also, and does make a living...but he is also not supporting a wife, and my stepdaughter is not exactly a big financial drain on him, anyway. She buys 2nd hand in most things, and is a bit of an artist type....I suspect she'll be a pretty decent actress.

Her dad is past retirement age, and busts his butt to make a go of the business, still.

That said, Manitoba is one of the toughest markets to make a go of it, so that is likely why we are having a rough ride, despite my experience & expertise. I have seen lots of antiques stores close. As it is/was, many of the dealers I know have/had other things to keep their heads above water...auctioneering, refinishing furniture, good pensions, spouses working at high paying jobs, just do it on the side of their regular job or business, etc, etc....I am one of the few that actually make their living at this, in this province...I can count the dealers who make their full living in this province (at just buying and selling antiques) on one hand...and the count is under 5. Many antique shop owners are retired folks with pensions, investments, etc...and they are "playing", or it is someone with a high paying job, and opens on the weekends. They don't need to sell stuff to put food on the table.

Your best bet for a more "local" take on it is to talk to people into the business in your area...see if it viable where you live, and if so, do try to supplement a brick and mortar store's sales with online sales of smaller items that don't sell in your area, but that you are able to buy at reasonable prices and sell well online.

I doubt you will make money within a couple years, frankly, if you were to open, and all did go well. Will take awhile. Not a get rich quick have to love it, or don't do it. If you don't absolutely love old stuff, or you do love old stuff, but have a hard time parting with what you find, don't get into it as a business.

Also, it can be real hard on relationships. If your wife doesn't like old stuff...well, I have seen lots of couples (of all ages and backgrounds) break up because one didn't like the stuff and the other preferred to be surrounded by the stuff.

My best advice would be to keep the job that provides a steady income, and just keep antiquing on the side. Then, if you make some extra $ at it, you can take the family somewhere, or buy some new "toy", go out for suppers, or take the wife on a second honeymoon, etc. If you don't make any extra, well, it is entertainment that has (hopefully) paid for itself.

Don't risk your family's security.

I was "single" (sometimes seeing someone) up until 3 years ago, so it was only "me" I had to worry about supporting....And, financial stress also can destroy relationships quickly. Been engaged twice 7 year relationship ended in a great part due to financial stress. So, if you and the wife are happy & secure financially, stick with that is working!

This biz is not all fun and games, though I realize TV makes it look like that. Mike and Frank are making far more $ off of licensing, media deals, merchandise, etc than they ever would just in the antiques biz. I'm also looking at other ways to parlay my experiences, my expertise, and interests into $, beyond buying and selling stuff. As it is, I had the same concept that Mike has brought to market, but it was 10 years ago. Due to "life", I didn't pursue it that heavy...and the "reality TV" market wasn't ready for it, anyway. Mike's timing and persistence paid off. Hopefully it helps the business in general. He's doing well now...but, I understand/heard that prior to the show, his income was around the $40,000 - $50,000 mark...and that would be due to a frugal picker style living, also. Plus, I'd expect he had some other $ banked or invested from previous business activities.

Anyway, hope I didn't bore you to death! Will likely blog about this subject, also....I know the thought/desire/dream is on many people's minds.

* * *
His response (yes, in italics is your neck doing?)

Man, I really appreciate the advice. You have basically confirmed my gut instinct. And, no, I wasn't bored at all. That's exactly the kind of opinion I was seeking and I knew you could really elaborate on all the highs and lows.

Fortunately, my wife loves old stuff as well, so that usually doesn't present a problem. Her problem is patience. She has none. So, if I buy something, she expects to turn it around within a week or so and sometimes that just doesn't happen, as you well know. She would want to make good money right off the bat and I just don't think that's realistic, especially after getting your take on things.

I think I'll stick to the real job with this on the side because I don't want to make my family live a barebones lifestyle. If it were just me, that would be different. But, I can't do that to them.

Thank you very much for laying it out. I knew I could count on you for the straight dope. You really should blog on this because I know lots of people think it all glitz and glamour. Keep up the good work and look me up next time your in (his state).

* * *
Well, sounds like I might get a beer out of this bit of advice! The appreciation he expresses added to that makes it a good payment in my books!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Much Closer to Becoming an "Expert" !

Got an email the other day, from that website.....the one where I can be paid as an "expert" answering questions on antiques.

The text of which is as follows:

Dear fedant,

Congratulations! You have made it through the testing gauntlet – welcome to the elite club of Experts serving the Antiques category community on the site. To finalize your admission, we need to verify one of the following of your credentials:

Relevant license or certification for antique appraisal (e.g. ASA certification)Relevant license or certification for antique appraisal (e.g. ASA certification)

2+ years of relevant employment (e.g. auction house, museum curator, appraiser)2+ years of relevant employment (e.g. auction house, museum curator, appraiser),


Log-in to JustAnswer and submit US$22 (US$9 for Canada verifications) payment via credit card.

You will need to pay US$22 (US$9 for Canada verifications) to JustAnswer. Once verified, JustAnswer will reimburse the verification fee to you per Step 3. JustAnswer will forward the US$22/$9 to the Third Party Verification Service - a Fortune Global 500 company - after the Third Party Service performs the verification.

Click Verify* to verify your credentials.

Get approved within approximately 72 hours (typically, assuming verification is successful). Sources for the identity and credentials verification may include credit bureaus, government occupational licensing entities and other sources as needed.

Once verified, answer questions and be entitled to 100% of your Accept monies until the verification fee is 100% earned back.

If you need to verify a USA credential, have questions regarding the verification process, or do not have any of the credentials listed above, please e-mail for assistance.

Once you are verified, we will place a Verified symbol in your profile, with a description of what was verified, when, any expiration date, etc.

Again, congratulations on joining the Antiques Expert ranks. We look forward to you helping thousands of customers on XXXXX!

Thank you,

The Expert Team


Was just going to write them back (again)...trying not to roll my eyes as I typed the email.

Ooopps, there is the mention of an "appraisal certificate" again....

I have been self-employed for over 20 years in this business, so I figured that trumps 2 years working at an
auction house, as a museum curator, or appraiser. However, I guess my experience falls into that same category of examples, though you'd think that would be an obvious example they'd mention. The big difference between my experience and the "examples" they mention, is that my knowledge has been gained via SELF-employment...not being an "employee" under someone myself!

 So, under their "examples", you could go as far as surmising that (being the owner of an antiques related business, auction house, etc) your employee  is more qualified under their criteria than you are..I have trained a few employees, so I guess they would get approval quicker.

That is dwelling on the pessimistic side, however. So, let's just assume they picked those examples without realizing that they are not "the norm" (IE: employee type positions) in the antiques world. Web designers I guess do not realize that the majority of us in this business are "self-employed."

So, in examining this email, I see they want me to use a credit card...pretty tough for me at the moment, being the Xmas season...yes, it is maxed.

So, have to wait a bit before I can go through their process...IF my "credentials" pass their test...

BUT, as luck would have it (and to my surprise), they called me on Friday!

So, I discussed the matter with their representative, telling her of the fact that the local municipality doesn't issue a business license, nor do I have the other "certificates" that they accept, etc, etc..basically all the stuff you have read in my blog on this matter previously.

She suggested that they would also accept proof of my business activities from my legal counsel or accounting firm.

I told her that both "legal counsel" and the accounting firm I use would likely/possibly charge me for that "work"....I could almost hear her consternation through the brief silence....!

Yes, was a bit of  "devil's advocate" answer, but it is actually quite possible. Hey, I am blazing a trail for you guys! 

Yes, really....!

By the sounds of it, the reason that the "antiques" category area had non-antiques experts answering questions was that it was more of a "beta" category...a test, or category added by other experts. Apparently, in the last 6 weeks it has been made an "official" category that requires certification of qualifications....which may be why the gauntlet of "stuff" I am dealing with right now is so...well, varied. The emails come in different formats, "signed" by different people, etc, etc. It is like they still are trying to figure the antiques business and all its quirks out....

I guess we'll see if it is only "antiques experts" appraising antiques...will have to check that out later.

Got to hand it to them, though...they are trying!  eBay could take a lesson from them!

So, what I will be doing is submitting a government issued tax form, with my business name, GST (Goods and Services Tax - Federal sales tax) number, and hopefully that should suffice as "credentials" that I am who I say I am....I yam what I quote that corn-cob pipe tootin' dude with the obscenely massive, and freakishly out of proportion forearms...No wonder I don't like spinach...been subconsciously terrified that it would turn me into a freak!

SO, I guess this will be continued in a further blog...aren't you lucky?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

UPDATE: The Appraisal Game...Online Version - The Story Continues...

Here is an update on what has happened:

Got an email back:


Thanks for your message. I'll forward it to the verification department for you so that they can further assist you. If you need future assistance regarding verification, please email

Thank you,

Experts' Moderator


Ok, fine....and then I get this one:


To verify your identity and continue with the verification process, please scan and email to, or fax to 555-5555-5555 “Attn: verify”, copies of your:

(1) government-issued identification (non-professional license related) and

(2) professional license or official proof of professional license.

Please include in the email or fax your username and email address.

We appreciate your cooperation and patience.


(And, yes, I have removed the site name (etc), to keep the guilty party anonymous at this point. I wouldn't said anything to that email might be emailing a major porn site, who might put you on their mailing list for updates on their selections of weird elephant & giraffe porn...then you'd have some explaining to do to your other half, kids, etc!)
Ok, government issued a driver's license, so that should work....

BUT, we're back to the "professional license" thing again...

Well, as for a business license, the local municipality does not require one to open a business in its borders.

So, I do not have ANY "professional license"...I suspect they essentially mean an antiques dealers license...which you can get if you are in a city, sometimes towns, for a fee. So, to get that "professional license" there are no tests to take regarding knowledge, or anything else, though some places require you to have a clean criminal record.

Back to square one.

SO, I sent them another email...that was 2 days ago.

Here is what I wrote....I suspect the irritation I was feeling at the time does come through...

We are in a municipality (rural area) that does not require, nor issue, a business license to operate, so I do not have a "business license."

As for a "professional license or certificate", there really are no "credentials" required to be an antiques dealer. We build reputations.

In many cases (though not all), those with "training" and assorted "certificates" are not necessarily all that experienced, and don't really have the knowledge required. That is usually why they have acquired the certificates....because building an actual reputation as a qualified and respected dealer takes time. It is the actual hands on experience in researching items, handling actual pieces, and day to day involvement in the business....REAL LIFE is where antiques dealers truly learn. Those who actually have the experience to add to/back up their accumulated "certificates" tend to be involved in large auction houses, import/export of antiquities, involved in very large firms, and the like. Fees for their services are well beyond the reach of users of your site, thus it will be highly unlikely those sorts of dealers would register to do such work for the minimal amounts offered.

Just trying to point out the realities. If you want qualified antiques dealers to utilize your site, I suggest you review your "qualification requirements."

The 4 "questions" asked as a "test" are not exactly what could be considered something that could be used to identify someone to be an antiques dealer...all the answers are available online to anyone who can copy the question into Google....and they are not difficult questions to answer, either...

What I can send is a photocopy of my Provincially issued driver's license, a copy of a birth certificate, etc.

I would expect this to suffice? If not, I suggest you do a Google Search for "Fedora Antiques" will find evidence of my activities archived online all over, under my store name, and it is spread over a 12 year period (all in Manitoba), dating from when I first got online in 1998, in case you are doubtful of my qualifications.

And that is where it sits at the moment...

Not exactly easy to sign up...and, I suspect that a regular business license is not what they are after, anyways.  I'm willing to bet they want something that states "ANTIQUE DEALER" on it....guess I need to print something up myself...!  I wonder if they actually even to any background check to see if the "certificates" of these "experts" are legit or not....

Let's see...hmmm....

How about one that says: "Member of the Manitoba Antiques Dealers Association"...?

There is no such thing, by the way. Manitoba Antique Association, yes, but no dealer's association. Would be very easy to create a certificate for that...

Maybe I could be a member of the NAAPA?

No, not the Newell Asian-American Professional Advocates....


I do have some other certificates around...could fill one of them out....


What do you think?

Ok, maybe not...

They are 1940s "Arcade Cards", by the way....have a bunch for sale in bulk...check my listings at or contact me if you want to buy some.  They are about the size of a postcard, but are printed on heavier card stock. You could pop your penny (or a nickle in later years) into a vending machine and get one.  I bought a machine and a bunch of NOS cards awhile back. There were singing stars of the 1950s/60s, including 3 different sets of 4 Beatles ones....except one set was actually only 3 didn't have a Ringo! So, if you were trying to collect "all 4" of that set of Beatles ones, you'd be plugging in a ton of change...for eternity...'cause you'd just never seem to get the "missing" one...which did not exist!

Well, not much more to add at this point...guess I'll wait until I hear back from the site.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Appraisal Game...Online Version.

Back in mid-October a helpful Facebook friend suggested a site for me to check out.

Why they suggested it, I suspect, was that they noticed that I tend to be helpful in giving advice on antiques & collectibles when people ask, and I have been...umm...griping about ways to make this online thing "pay"...and that I tend to give away my advice for free.

This particular site would allow me to be paid for my services. 

I thought that was just the kind of alternate money making opportunity I needed....!

I checked it out, and it seemed like it had some good potential.  I have over 20 years experience in this business, know my stuff, am a honest sort, have a good reputation,, what the heck, I'd go for it!

So, I tried to sign up....

However, they had requirements...which is to be expected.  However, one of the things they required was an "antique appraiser's certificate...."

Wait a mean a certificate from an "appraisal school" where you pay, they teach you how to "appraise" and turn you loose on the unsuspecting public, who are unaware you need not have any knowledge about the items you are appraising?

And you can even get these certificates via a HOME COURSE ordered online?

Don't get me wrong, some appraisers can be very, very good, and immensely qualified...

....but some can be REALLY bad.

As a dealer I have gone to view items that had been appraised by a "licensed appraiser", and could do nothing but allow my eyes to roll uncontrollably....

Sometimes you are invited to buy, or rather, make offers, on someones "antiques", and you find they have been appraised at 10 times market value by a "trained licensed appraiser."  You will look like a fool in the eyes of the owner, no matter how reasonable an offer you could even offer full-bore-retail-on-an-ideal-perfect-sunny-day and still look like an idiot or rip-off artist.

Works the other way, also. If you are going to hire an appraiser to appraise your grandmother's oak dining room suite, make sure they are actually familiar with what they are appraising.


You tell the well dressed appraiser the suite is Stickley.

They then walk up to it, touch the table top in a softcaressing fashion.

You think: "My, they sure do appreciate quality furniture....I made a good choice!"

But, little do you know, they are thinking:

"Hmmm, weird, doesn't seem sticky to me."

So, an appraiser is really only as good as their knowledge, or their sources of knowledge. A dealer friend and her daughter both got their appraisers certificates after attending an out of province course.  Given their excellent reputation in the business, they were asked to appraise antiques, estates, etc, a fair bit. I also happily recommended them in my list of appraisers I felt were qualified, when people asked for a recommendation of an appraiser.

But, I knew they did their research, and did not try to assess items from areas they were not familiar with. They could easily and were quite qualified to appraise china, formal antique furniture, glassware, etc...but, if they came across vintage toys, advertising items, nostalgia-type things, I'd get a call for assistance and/or advice.

Other appraisers tend to...well, "wing it."

So, when I came across the "appraiser certificate" requirement on the site, I thought, well, ok, you need to filter out people who are not all that knowledgeable...but, it is well known in this business that a "certificate" doesn't mean much in many cases.  Plus, their little requirement makes my credentials worthless....over 20 years experience means NADA in their eyes.

So, I delved deeper into the site....

And I found experts in such fields as Animal Care, Plumbing, Health, etc appraising antiques...!

So, I wrote the operators of the site a "brief" email...thus:

I am an antiques & collectibles dealer with over 20 years experience in the field. I was going to register on your site as an expert. However, I see your "qualifications" include having a "antique appraiser" certificate.

In this business, it is well known among dealers that having a certificate to appraise does not actually make you truly QUALIFIED to appraise antiques in general, especially when the objects require specialized knowledge.

ANYONE who wishes to pay a fee and attend a brief course can get an antiques appraiser certificate.

Not everyone has a lifetime of experience, vast libraries of reference books accumulated over years, which trumps any certificates. I am one of the people those same "appraisers" approach for advice. Eliminating those of us with true experience, and a wealth of knowledge is eliminating the majority of those who you should have doing assessments of items on your site. I have already seen inaccurate answers here. Also, those answering antiques questions DO NOT have antiques appraisers certificates, but are experts in some OTHER field totally unrelated to the antiques business....this is akin to having a plumber do your electrical work... But, yet you keep the real experts out of the picture....I'm confused as to the requirements of an antiques appraisers certificate, when you allow someone with certification in a totally unrelated field do assessments of items...

And their reply?

Thanks very much for your valuable feedback. I'll be sure to pass it along to our product development team. Please be sure to check back again in the future to see if any changes are made to the credential requirements for the Antiques category.

Best wishes,

(and yes, it was name...just "Best wishes,")

So, that was Oct 15th....

Shall we check out the current requirements?  I do need to see if I should go get a dog groomer's certificate and do some antiques appraising and give medical advice....

So, I selected my category, "antiques"....

Filled out all my info...

Messed around a bit...AH, ok, here we go...

I am now an EXPERT at...well, before I reveal the site, let's make sure I AM registered as one of their "experts."

BUT, it does seem they changed that "appraiser certificate" requirement!  Got to give them credit for that!

I'm impressed!

Oh, wait...jumped the gun....looks like I am still waiting for my "profile" to we might still hit a snag...

Now am still waiting for a photo for my "avatar" to upload...

Yes, of course it is going to be my neon, ain't it?

Still waiting...not sure if this issue is my Internet connection, computer or the site itself...

I need a thumb twiddling graphic of GIF about now....

Ok, got an "error" page...trying again....

Guess what I found....

HEY, finally!

Ok, so now I need to verify my identity....

Filled out the stuff.....submitted...

.....and now it wants some of my Passport info???

You have to be kidding...!

Here is what it asks for:

"Starts with P, is 44 characters long"

"Passport line 2: (44 characters long)"

And THIS is what it all means...

Yeah, right, I am going to go give them my passport info? Got 2 answers for this one..

(a) No, I will not.

(b) I don't have one right now ANYWAY.

Ok, so if I skip that and answer the "4 questions" they ask as "qualifiers"...

Four questions at which I roll my eyes as I read them ---ooooooohh geeze......I'm getting dizzy now......

Got to stop that eye rolling....whew...

All the answers are available to you with no effort (IE:Google), I might add, if you didn't already know them. They are also questions which I'd suggest are not exactly what I'd say are qualifiers as to being an "expert" in antiques.  All stuff you may or may not have learned over the years...depending on what areas of interest you have, items you have dealt in, etc.  It is possible that you could not know any of the answers, but have been in the business for 50 years, and more qualified than most of the dealers out there.

So, in any case, I answered the questions....I guess they still need to "check" my;d think it would be an instantaneous "pass or fail"...not hard to program that into the system. Oh well, just have to wait.

But, I think I may also be able to get by the "passport" requirement....which shows up only because I put in CA instead of leaving the default "US" for country.... my hopes it turns out I end up getting: "First Name / Last Name, Address, Date of Birth do not identify you enough to proceed"

So much for that. 

Oh, an email popped up to inquire about other ways of ID verification...ok, will inquire via that....

Will let you know what happens....So far this has been, well...


And, really, EXTRA annoying....seeing as once I had reviewed the questions (and amounts people are willing to pay for the answer)....I could have made easily $100 by now giving some of those people their answers...

But, at least I did get a blog post out of it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

That Damn Clock!

Back at it...researching that clock...

Welcome to the world of picking antiques! Not always fun and games.....lots of homework, too!


Well, let's head back to this site.

And hit "Identifying the Maker".


Hmmm...well, we know we have the "Bailey" & "18 Chapel St" scratched on the back...

...and that hand written numbered label, but that is it...unless there is something on the back of the movement....which is a distinct possibility.

SO, got to take it apart & take out the movement...carefully!

Will go do that!  If you hear cursing, you'll know I broke something....back in a bit!

And, get out the ointment and bandages, just in case....

Well, no real news to report...not really much farther than before I took it apart...other than it is now apart. I have placed the little bits in a small zip lock bag (always advisable, seeing as parts can disappear easily, and it can he absolute hell trying to find a replacement for some things, even little screws. Save yourself the hassle, bag 'em ASAP.

Why not put it back together? Well, if I want to examine the movement for other clues, I don't want to have to risk damaging it by taking it apart yet again.

I did see more varnish, and did notice that it doesn't have wood stain on the upper sides inside, which is a good sign.

 The back board still seems to be original, but the additional splashes of varnish confirm that it has had some touch up done in the past, and possibly even fairly recent past.

I did notice a worn spot at the bottom of the case, where the bottom of the door rubs, which was stained, and shouldn't have been. (bottom left of photo) 

Sometimes this gets done in a antique shop, before an auction (etc) with scratch cover, but in a case of a piece this old, it is best to leave those true signs of age as they are. You will note the heavy wear on the door's one pillar, down through the original gold coloration, down to the gesso, where someone's fingers has touched that spot over and over, for many years, opening and closing the door, in order to wind the clock.

There is also varnish OVER the wear on that pillar....another sign someone has been "messing" with it, and an indicator to look closer.  This happens to furniture of all sorts, being varnished and re-varnished over its lifetime, but fairly fresh varnish on a very old piece should raise a red flag for you.

Now, this might be a good time to mention a repair that this clock has had done....I am well aware of it, and have been even prior to purchase. In this case, we are fortunate to have been given a "heads-up" was mentioned on that post-it-note that came with it! But, I have taken pics of it, as it is something that you may miss if you are not looking for it....good time to learn!

The bottom corner trim on the door was either damaged or missing, and has been replaced.

From the underside, you will notice the lightness of the wood, the lack of "air burn" on comparison to the other portion. The flash really makes this detail prominent, which actully isn't all that noticable in "real life"...not a bad job, but not done by a professional restorer...maybe a clock repair person, but not an antiques restorer.

And, the obvious sign is in the edge....

See the problem? No, no, not the fact the varnish doesn't really match...the flash actually brought that detail regular light it looks darn close to a match. (NOTE: That is a veiled tip....taking a flash photo(s) of an item can bring out flaws, repairs, etc on an item...flaws and repairs you might not have noticed before...!)

So, did you see the other problem?


How about if we compare it with the other side....?

Yep, whoever repaired it, didn't bother (or perhaps lacked the skill or expertise) to replicate the fine carved looping.

I know people who repair vintage items professionally, and if they don't hand carve such an important feature themselves (or have it done by someone else), they may replicated by use of a MOLD, using resin or plaster. They take a rubber copy of an adjacent piece, cast it, then painted/color it to match the other portions.

Watch for that, also!

So, we are not really that far ahead of where we started at the beginning of this post...though you may have learned a few things!

One thing I do want to do a quick Google search for the keywords: "pine case" and american mantle clock.

Yep, figure out what wood it is made of...that will help!

What did I find?

No, nothing pertaining to this clock...but, he had a link to this site:

Where I am going to see if they have a reproduction movement for this one...and see what it looks like...and it will quite possibly give me some information of what clocks they were used in!

Hmmm..this movement looks is ours (back view, as well as another view):

But certainly not identical...and ours IS older, for sure....but, I still am a little suspicious of it....Maybe an old repro? 1950s - 1970s?  And, in reality, the newer one is quite different.

The more I look at ours I think it is an older repro. Guess we'll see. Hope not, but we need to be realistic. Its appearance, construction etc, just doesn't seem to jive with the age of the main parts of the case.

If you do come across old (1950s/60s/70s/80s) catalogs that show reproduction parts for antiques, as well as whole reproductions of antiques that were sold in those years, snag them for your research library! They may turn out very, very handy for identifying replaced parts, naturally aged reproductions, outright faked items, etc that you come across!  I already am seeing reproduction signs from the early 1980s popping up on the market with regularity. They appear on sites like eBay, in live antique auctions, flea markets, restaurant liquidations, even estate sales, etc, but are being represented as antiques, usually by the unaware. This occurs simply because the signs have been nailed to a fence outside in someone's yard for the last 25 years...and gotten faded and rusty. 

Rust, fading, scuffs, scratches, bird crap, paint spatters (etc) doesn't make something any less of a reproduction!

Back to our clock....

I'm wondering if there is anything to be seen on the back of the dial, the area obscured under the wood.

Looking at it, I spot another potential problem...yes, the nails are wrong, I already knew that....but the dial seems off center...

Notice the face is off center of the opening...hmmmm.

Now I REALLY need to take the face off of it... *sigh*