Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Ok, so I said you can't get rich in the antiques business....well, that is not quite so.

There are the (very) lucky (very) few who do.

It is probably the reason why I keep going...HOPING for that big SCORE.

What would I do if I got rich? Buy more old junk. Build my dreams...

But, you need not hear about my dreams, really. How about some reality, some real "found treasure" stories?

I love 'em, too!

Right here in Manitoba, a woman did buy, at a garage sale, in a small rural town, a painting.

Cost her 15 cents, from what I was told.

It was actually two paintings....an acrylic done over top of an oil.

She had a clue as to what she had, but she took it in to the Brandon Art Gallery, where a former flame of mine worked (before she met me).

They confirmed the lady's thoughts as to what it was, then sent it on to the Winnipeg Art Gallery, who then sent it to a BC art gallery where it was cleaned.

Have you heard of Marc Chagall?

It was one of his "Blue Horse" works....

Sold for $2.5 million.

Yep, found at a garage sale in a tiny rural Manitoba town...

Oh, and she apparently did not give the Brandon Art Gallery a dime. Nice, eh?

My ex also was present when a fellow brought in some papers with a musical composition written on it.

He had inherited a trunk, and in a book in the trunk were these papers.

Eventually they were determined to be:


Sold for $2.5 million to the Smithsonian.

Not a dime was given to the Art Gallery...again.

And did you hear of the item found at a Flea Market in Pennsylvania?

A fellow bought a painting in a frame (I heard it was a religious print...neither is important). The sum was $4.

He opened it up, as all he wanted was the frame.

And, in the back, was:


Sold for $8.14 Million.

Yes, it DOES happen. That is what keeps some of us going, after buying and selling for years & only just barely eking out a living. As a kid I LOVED shows on lost treasure, pirate treasure, and all the rest.

It does happen...hold on to that, tightly!

Sometimes it is pure fluke...more often than not, I think!

I heard a story about a fellow who bought a little old movie theatre in a little Alberta town. He bought it with the intent on opening it up again as a movie theatre.
In his renovations, he decided to tear down the old screen, as it was stained, torn, etc.

Behind that screen was shelving....

FULL of all the movie posters, lobby cards, etc that the theatre had ever shown!

The lot included an original KING KONG which is worth about a quarter of a million dollars.

He is said to have started a business with the find, selling vintage posters, reproductions, etc.

Haven't confirmed this one, but I would not be surprised in the least. I have gotten into old theatres before, and this scenario is not all that unlikely. Odds are against it, just due to time and progress, but, if a variety of things fall into place, it can happen.

You would need a situation that includes: An owner who hoarded and saved things, a building caught up in a legal issue or in limbo for other reasons, locked up tight, kept in good enough condition that rodents don't take over, the roof doesn't leak (etc), no natural disasters (fire, flood, etc), and someone who finds the hoard who knows not just to haul all the stuff to the dump! Yes, that does happen...all too often! I have many a horror story to relate in this blog about such things...including what I consider my "missed" BIG SCORE.

The factors involved did line up for another such find of movie posters in the US.

It is said that many knew that this particular theatre owner kept all his posters. However, when he passed away, no one found anything in the theatre. One savvy searcher decided to go look at the fellow's house, which was up for sale.

He went in with the realtor to look around, on the pretense of thinking of buying the house.

The place was not in the best of shape, and the price reflected that.

While the realtor was in another room, the searcher noticed a loose board on a wall.

He pried it back, and realized that the wall was FULL OF POSTERS. The theatre owner had used them to INSULATE HIS HOUSE.

He bought the house (I think the figure was $25,000?). He became a millionaire with the purchase.

Makes you want to go out and find old theatres, doesn't it?

I have been in a few, and one, which was being gutted in Winnipeg, Manitoba, I did obtain a few neat things. One was a stack of posters that were glued on on top of the other. On the top was HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES. Mint, this poster is worth around $8000 or so these days. I found it about 15 years ago.

Sadly, it was glued over top of many other 1930s posters. Also had water damage...was very wrinkled. I think I sold it for $100 to a dealer I knew, who was going to see/invest in getting them separated. Don't think it ever happened....likely still sitting in storage. I'll have to ask the next time I see her.

I also got 4 stained glass exit signs, one of which I still own to this day, as well as a couple boxes of "B" & "C" list movies from the 1970s/80s....many foreign language ones, not valuable. Beyond that, there might have been a few other knick knacks, but not much. The thing is, when these places change hands, things get tossed, sold, stolen, etc, etc. This one has gone through a number of transitions. One of the things there were lots of where a selection of 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s theatre seats. Unfortunately, my request to help him sell them fell on deaf ears, and seeing as he was in a big hurry, he had them ripped out. No care was taken, and they were tossed in a pile outside....it rained the next day, to boot!

The thing is, some people see zero value in old things. Due to this, despite he did just let me take the stuff, no payment. This is good sometimes...but, those who see no value in such things treat them as if they are valueless....and do I have a story for you about that!!! But, I will save it for another blog....

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