Friday, November 26, 2010

Research, Research, Research - Part 3

Well, here goes another attempt to dig further into I.D.-ing that clock.

I took the liberty of going through my own reference materials between the last post and this post, (yes, without telling you..sorry 'bout that!)....and found something!

A Canadian clock book!

But, no sign of this clock.

I decided to check out some of my general guides, one in particular, UNITT'S. I have a stack of older ones I picked up at another dealer's estate sale.  They are handy to have, as they feature much Canadian made stuff, so if I can't find it in an American guide or British guide, sometimes it pops up in an old Unitt's price guide. There are not many reference books on Canadian items...that is, in comparison to the number of publications of books on US, European, and other nations' products.

I did trip across this in 2 of the Unitt's books, oddly enough! It is German made, though...this one has a Union Jack on top, so it was being geared towards the Canadian market.

Recognize it from the previous blog?

Anyway, one of the guides turned out to be a Unitt's Canadian Clock guide (which I didn't remember having), but contained no information on the clock I am researching.

So, I flipped through other Unitt's guides, and found something else I have been researching off and on for a couple years...and happened to have bought at the same dealer's estate auction....

And the previous page's top corner was folded down at that spot!

SO, now I know exactly what they are.  Here are mine:

Had suspected these were "back bar" decanters to begin with, but wasn't 100% sure. I collect saloon related items a bit, and will be building a saloon in the basement of the B&B, so they fit in that scheme of things well. They aren't quite identical to those pictured in the book, but close enough to pin their identity down further than I had prior to this accidental discovery.

I thought they might be for a particular brand of whiskey or other hard liquor, maybe even wine, and have been trying to identify that brand. They still might be meant for a specific firm's spirits, even...more research to do, I guess.  I might offer one, the other or both for sale online yet, we'll see. Have bills to pay!

So, the clock....hmmm....well, where shall we venture....what road shall we take?

Let's go back to that note...

They were way off on what the back said, but, let's attempt to do something with the country of origin...

French or German...ok, let's see where that takes us.

Let's try that antique clock site....and click on "Country."

Germany has a thousand, so let's start there...

Man, I don't know...seems like a fair bit of browsing, and a needle in a haystack, still.

Let's get a new window open, and try Google....

Ok, "German Mantle Clock" and searching by IMAGE.  I like the "Image" feature...handy sometimes.

Hmmm...paging down, down and down....and nothing.

Ok, how about "French Mantle Clock"?

That was fruitless, too...

SO, maybe it is Canadian?

Let's see...."Canadian Mantle Clock"...kind of sparse...very few clocks even pictured...

Canadian Shelf Clock, maybe?  I got 2 images...the same about you?

Ok, this is getting no where....

Lets try to determine the "era" is was made...narrow SOMETHING down, anyway...

The pattern "carved" into the base and top appear to be machine made.....

Wait....look closer!

Notice anything?

OK, OK, other than my photography skills aren't the best?  Ya buncha smart a****. Harumph....

Look at those two curly-cue things near the round carved bits on the base...and compare them each to the other.

They certainly are different...indicating they are hand carved....and the "hesitation marks" at the bottoms of the grooves of the middle carving and those curly-cues indicate that they were hand carved, also....darn tough to create a perfectly even depth and a curve in one steady swoop of a blade.

GREAT! This bodes well for us!

Now, how about the trim/molding up top?

Hmmm...tough to tell.

I need a pair of calipers....the only ones I can seem to remember where they are happen to be outside in the van...or inside with a pile of junk I cleaned out of the van...going on a me one of those beverages you are drinking, would you?

***********************************Time Passes*************************

BACK! I got a cup of tea, a book on Lionel trains...oh, wait a sec...I was looking for calipers, wasn't I?

***********************************MORE Time Passes*************************

Ok, back again...and yes, I have the calipers:...

Happy?  Good....and yes, they are vintage as well...

Down to business...

Let's measure the width of the loops in the molding....




WHOA! A difference in width in this one!

And there is not a repeating pattern of this wider one, either...SO...

The MOLDING is hand carved, also!

Ok, I know, I know, I'm getting a bit over dramatic....and, yes, the gig's up....I didn't need calipers for this myself, I spotted the variations in the widths with the "naked eye"......
But, as you are training your eyes, they come in handy, to prove to yourself you aren't seeing things that you WANT to see that are not there....and to prove facts like this to others who disbelieve your statements. 

And, here is a tip, for those times you have no caliper...for me that is 99% of the time.
Look at the smallest bits of carving...they're even tougher to carve to look identical.
I have marked the areas you need to compare with a bright green "X".

Better to have a trained eye, especially if you tend to forget to bring things with you like I do.

"C'mon, jump through the hoop, boy!  Good, good eyeball, good boy....."

SO, if you are done laughing (or groaning, whichever), we'll get on with the research...

Also, to closely check out the carving and such, especially those little details such as hesitation marks, carry a magnifying glass. A small, inexpensive pocket loupe works fine...just a 10X is good. know, we forgot try "American Mantle Clocks" in Google...

Ya should have said something for crying out loud! (Notice how I smoothly passed part of the blame on to you?)

So, let's see how that works...

"American Mantle Clock" as an Image search...

Hmmm...this is sort of like it...

But, this is a different and better quality wood, finger hands, etc...but, the solid glass door, pendulum visible, and a couple other things are alike...let's check it out closer.......

Here is mine/ours:

Side by side, they are much closer than the others....Even the trim ring around the dial is the same...probably a stock item clock makers could order. Note that it has BRASS nails...compared to our replaced steel headed nails.

SO, American,  maybe?  But, can't jump to that final conclusion, yet.

Let's archive that photo in the favourites...there we go....

Looking closer, they estimated it at 25 Pounds - 35 Pounds.

HEY! Did I hear "I doesn't look that heavy!" from the back there?
Ha ha. Very funny...

NO, not weight...that is their currency...their "dollar" that is about $50....but, an American clock, no attribution to a maker, selling in Britain might fetch only that, I guess.....but, kind of disheartening, isn't it?   But, that is not OUR clock...ours is a much better piece, right???  And who knows what that one in the British auction actually sold for...

I hope so....let's try to prove it, ok?

Let's check out some more....

Hmmm...after clicking and following a few more dead ends, we still have little to go on....

Well, maybe we can tentatively call it an American Mantle or Shelf Clock with hand carved details....

More than we knew a couple blogs ago!

How about that antique clock site?

Under "Countries"?


Ugggghh...13,000+ clocks listed...!

Just got a flashback....reading that number made me see a 2 foot high stack of homework from Junior High School...

Well, will pan through it all...and, seeing as that is going to take me quite some time, I'll end the blog here for now!

Research, Research, Research - PART 2

Ok, now, I am no expert in antique clocks.  Normally they sell for far more than I am willing to pay, and almost every time I have bought one, I have not done very well. I have learned things, but sure have not made much money on the purchases. There are SO many things you really need to be aware of, and it is a pretty specialized area when it comes down to it.

But, I know enough to be a little dangerous....more than the average antique auction goer, for sure. But, not enough to be a 100% sure I am bidding on a piece that will make my month. Not very many people do know for 100% sure that they will do very, very well on most pieces they buy at auction. You might have a darn good idea, and odds may well be in you favor, but 100% for sure? 

Not often.

Ok, so you paid a buck for it, fine, it has to be worth $20. But  many items are bought on spec, using the knowledge you do have. However, you might be lacking in certain specialized knowledge, or at least need a reference book to confirm your suspicions....which ,may well not be at hand when you need it.

Oh, those many reference books!

I really need many, many more...but, they are not cheap. I do own 300+ so....and that counts only the price guides, books of marks, and specialized reference books on certain companies, makes (etc) of things. I've also gotten rid of many of my "general" price guides, as most of them are of limited use when it comes to researching items. Values on many things seem to be very out of whack, even in many of the pretty current ones.

Anyway, that 300+ figure does not include the vintage catalog collection I maintain. I utilize that collection to date certain items, identify things, etc....and they number in around that same figure.  Oh, and that number also does not include all the area history books, maps, history books, and a long list of odd books and other paper ephemera that I utilize researching leads, provenance of items, etc.

So, let's say I have 1000+ pieces in my "reference library"...a mere fraction of what I would really like to have....and a tiny, tiny fraction of my "dream" research library.

Anyway, back to the clock...

In all of this material, I think I have ONE clock book.

Problem is, I can't see to find it at the moment.

Not to worry, I am sitting in front of something that gives me access to a very valuable research tool, unavailable to me until the mid 1990s....and getting bigger all the time.

Yep, access to the INTERNET via my computer.

 Surprise, you didn't know that already.

SO, let's get started!

I did a quick search for "how to date antique clocks".

And, I found this site:


One problem is to get access to certain information, you need to sign up...a paid membership of some sort, by the looks of things.

But, there is some limited access to some useful info.

Oh, did I mention there was a label with the clock?

No, not a maker's label...but a Post-It-Note....

I am always wary of these things...they are "here-say." I always try to take these little hand penned notes with a grain of salt. It is pretty easy for anyone to write whatever they please on a piece of paper and stick it with the item that is being sold.

"This was great, great Aunt Ethel's, and hung above her bed for her entire life until she died at 112."

Yes, they might contain accurate family history, provenance, real knowledge, etc...but, rely on YOUR knowledge to prove the statements in them true (or false).

They might only be partially correct, if the information has any basis in fact at all.

Heck, it might even be a note that is 100% accurate.....but was not meant to even GO with that item!

So, let's look at this one. It appears to read (in italics):

B137 (with a modern sticker with the same number on it stuck beside that)


Winding arbor broke
Piece of wood missing
Small clock works
More than likely French
or German. L over
100 years old.

I read this, and went, OK, SURE...Um, let's just think about this for a bit....

Ok, say that "Pailey Chapeled" is actually the maker, and not the previous owner of the clock....

What the heck...I did a search for that.

Nothing. No surprise there, really.

So, I carefully looked for a label, one of the other reasons I had taken the panel holding the face off in the first try to identify a maker.

No luck there.

I had also seen the label on the back, which is maybe a model number. A piece of one corner has broken away, which was a good sign for age...the wood underneath wasn't heavily "air burnt"...the wood panel is at least old, and the label has been on it for quite some time. Looks like the corner of the label broke off some time ago, also, as that exposed portion has darkened, also, but not as much as the surrounding surface. Ok, back is quite likely original to the cabinet!

But, no maker's marks....oh, wait a second!

When I looked at the back, I noticed some indenting I had mistaken for scratches.

And I saw where "Pailey Chapeled" had come from....

See anything?  Here is one on its side..might be easier to see now...I have also adjusted the contrast a little in my photo editing software program.

I know, really tough to see. But, it does appear to say Pailey Chapeled...

But wait!

I looked more carefully at what was crudely scratched into the back, and what I finally saw and recognized was:
18 Chapel St.


Now we have something, me thinks!

The scratching also is not recent. The wood's patina in the denting of the scratches is identical to that of the surrounding wood.  Looks like it has been there since the clock was made...or added darn recently after. 

Still could just be a previous owner...maybe the first owner.

But, might be the, let's get online!

I use Google the most. Best overall search engine, in my opinion.

But, we did find that clock website, so let's try it first, searching by maker.

I'll try BAILEY.

Hey, yes, under the B's we have some BAILEYS!

But, unless we pay for access this is almost the end of the road....But, we can access photos of some of the clocks these different "Bailey" companies let's do that.

Bailey, Banks and Biddle....hmmm...nope, not all that likely, but who knows what other types they made.

Bailey, Putnam....well, I suppose they are wood....I dunno...maybe...

And, that is it for Bailey...and there is Bailly, but this one definitely reads BailEy.

Well, lets see what else we can glean at this site...

No "No. 849" that I can Bailey, either....If that is the name of the maker, maybe they only used model numbers, no names?

Let's hit Google for a second...

Actually, let's check out the "Clock Types" on this site first...if we can nail down what this style is called, hopefully we can narrow or Google search a bit...

Let's see..what could this clock be called? Here is a pic, for reference:

Column? Not quite...this measures a mere 14 1/4" high....and the ones that are shown I know from what I have seen in similar clocks over the years are almost twice that height....but, there are 57 pages, and need to check 'em back in 57 mouse clicks! Oh, also, instead of just looking for "this clock", you should be looking for similar base styles, face styles/details, top styles, pendulums, etc...not necessarily just this the exact clock! Those details may lead you to the maker, also! Plus, I think this will just be a long list of any clock utilizing columns in their design..but, this one has columns, so let's look...

Page 17 Well, a clock similar in the style of this one...and likely similar in size...but that is about it...
And they call it a Bracket, we have a "type"... I would have said "Shelf Clock" I guess I was close, I suppose some would say they are one in the same. Yes, I figured that is what it was called already...and yes I was close...but I didn't know for 100% why confuse you? Plus have to let everyone else figure it out...can't reveal ALL of what I already know now, can I?  Besides, now you know another way to find out what the style is called.

Let's pop open another window, and open up this same site to the main page...just for giggles.

And go to Makers again...

What was the make of that one Bracket Clock again?

Oh, yeah...started with a J....Junghans....

No, not Jughead! Put your Archie comics away please, students!

Let's see....oh geeze, 289 clocks to look at...*sigh*...oh well, let's scan 'em...

OOOO...couple of these look interesting!  Ok, for those of you who have gotten distracted and are checking out all the other wild clocks....HEY, FOCUS HERE!

This one!

Ah, maybe not...but, we are in the right ilk, anyway...keep lookin'...

OOOO..this is cool!

Oh, yeah, right, I am working here....

So, 16 pages and nothing close...well, a few vaguely like it.  I think this one is not the same quality of Junghans. They've been around since the 1860s and are around still, making watches. Worth doing some reading later...some of their more modern stuff might well be worth watching for.

So, lets keep looking for the maker of our Bracket Clock. Oh, and Bracket clock does not actually define ours accurately...judging by the definition. This one sure has no place it ever had a handle...oh well, we'll still go with the same term...well, I suppose it is more likely and better defined as a "Mantle Clock" or "Shelf Clock"...

Oh yeah, that is what I had said, wasn't it ? (as I pat myself on the back...)

Ok, lets keep clickin'...many pages to go yet...

You know, we could have gone straight to "Mantle Clocks"....Oh wait, there is no "Mantle Clocks" section...but there is "SHELF CLOCKS."

But omigawd....over 740 pages....I don't think I am up to clicking that many times...No rum to ease the monotony and carpel tunnel I will eventually develop after 300 clicks...

Well, maybe a few...?

Ok, maybe time is worth more than that....

So, let's try to narrow this down, seeing as we are not getting far....

There was a neat little thing we could use in a search on Google...the street address!

Let's see where that gets us...

Yikes, tons of results...let's narrow it down a bit...

Interesting...but, nothing clock makers right at that address.

Maybe "clockmaker" as one word?

Even more dismal results...

How about "Bailey" & "18 Chapel St"?

Lots of results....too many...

How about "18 chapel St" "Bailey lived at"?

Ooops, too specific..., we know there are tons of Chapel Streets in the England, Australia, US and Canada. and who knows where else....

A dead end?

I guess we'll have to see after I eat...yep, that is it for now....!

Research, Research, Research.

I was just starting to research a piece I picked up on the weekend at a local auction and I got thinking that maybe you'd like to come along for the ride!

Research is a required skill in this business. It can make the difference in being able to justify pricing a piece at $50 or $500 or $5000.

So, I thought I'd bring you along on the road I am taking while researching an antique clock I bought.

Nice, eh?

I bought it on spec, without really examining it very closely first...which is a mistake!!!

 ALWAYS examine items closely before buying!  Go to that auction's preview, spend the time checking things closely!

When I got really examining it, I realized I really could have goofed had I payed more than the $67 I did pay.  My years of experience tell me that as a decorator piece I could get $100, maybe $150, but if that is all it is worth, I will consider it a bad purchase...yeah, I can get my money out, more than likely, and maybe even make profit, but I bought it thinking it had potential for much more. A touch of auction fever...induced by a previous purchase...which is a completely different blog...coming up soon!

That said, in the money conserving/strapped for cash mood I was in, I would  have likely stopped after another bid or two. Had I been flushed with cash....well, who knows what I would have done.

If nothing else, I am (and you are) about to learn, be educated....which could end up being worth what I paid for the assisting me in my assessing (potential) values of other clocks I come across using the knowledge gained by having to research this piece.

So, it won't be a total loss, even if it turns out to be nothing great.  You will have gotten this education for free...or, at least, for your time reading, and at my out of pocket cost.

When I bought it, I was kind of has all the indicators of some decent age.  Nice patina, what appears to be a hand painted dial, very heavy wear on the gold on the columns on the door, the glass is wavered and has small bubbles, and overall just has a certain "look" about it.

It has sat on one of our bookcases by the fireplace for 4 days now, and I have looked at it off and on. After that period of time, the "excitement" of this fresh purchase has worn off, and I am getting far more critical of it.

All sorts of things are jumping out at me as "wrong" now.

One of the things I noticed right off, even just after purchasing, is that it is missing a piece of hardware that makes sure the weight of the pendulum doesn't fall off.....there is a piece of bright, shiny copper wire wound around the shaft to replace it.  You can even see two spots of solder where the piece had been soldered in place.

"So what?" I had figured. Well, normally, it would have said to me LOOK CLOSER, DAMMIT.

Also, something else has also been niggling in the back of my mind is the trim ring around the face.

It is just too bright, too crisp. Nail heads holding it in are also crisp & shiny, with no patina. This piece appears to be over 100 years old, so the nail heads should more than likely have oxidized, darkened, or even obtained a little rust. Though, I should note, rust doesn't determine age. Rust happens literally overnight if the conditions are right.

But, true PATINA, on the other hand, can not be obtained overnight.  Patina, by the way, is the coloration/oxidization a surface obtains due to age. Wood darkens with exposure to air, as an example.

My thought is the trim ring has at least been replaced, or in the least, and I am thinking more likely, removed and cleaned heavily, with modern nails used to put it back in place.

I also noticed scratches, and what seemed to be fairly fresh scratches, around the screw heads/holes holding the wood panel that is holding the face in place. 

Due to these scratches, I have been wanting to take a look at the movement ever since I got it home.  I've been worried someone had put some modern movement,a repro movement or just made a heck of a mess inside.  A modern movement was unlikely, as I could tell it was likely a period correct style movement, as the shaft holding the hands was square, and the way the hands mounted in place also seemed correct. But, someone could always have done some adapting...epoxy is a popular product.

So, I unscrewed the face, and removed the screws...Before I even removed them, I noticed that the screws were both different.

To remove the panel, I also needed to remove the hands.

These are kept in place with a thin, tapered rod, pushed through the square shaft.  So, I pulled this out, and did it with my fingers. Hmmm...Usually these are fairly tight, having obtained some corrosion, gunk, etc over the years.... and you usually need a pair of pliers.

So, as I removed the hands, I immediately noticed something else I really should have taken more notice of before..I did notice it, and dismissed it as unimportant, though it really was important.

The brass ring that was over top of the hour hand has a square hole that is way too big for the shaft size.  So, if this is the original ring, then the movement has been replaced. Or, hopefully, and preferably, the ring itself is a replacement. Cross you fingers!

So, after I removed the panel, my heart the first thing I spotted was a bright, clean movement and 4 slot headed screws holding it in place, whose heads are bright and shiny.  Normally shiny things attract people and make them happy....not the case in this business! I wanted to see a very dirty movement, screws with many years of dark patina, grunge around the mounting points of the movement from dust, oil and debris, etc.

If I had looked at the clock closely before buying, I'd have seen that the lower two screws were recent (see view in second photo.)

After a closer look at the movement, I have (currently) decide that it is old...but has been heavily cleaned up.

The screws holding it in place are not original, not by a long shot. Could have been put in just last week they are so crisp & new.

But, on a positive note, there are no other visible screw holes, which would almost positively indicate that the movement has been changed. I suppose this movement could be an accurate reproduction, but for now, considering the hand stamping of the number on it, and the way the one gear is kept in place, I still believe it is old....but, the little brass wire holding that gear might be the repair person's "make do" for the part they lost or was missing.

Another thing that concerned me is that the wood is stained inside behind the movement....where you can not see when the face and panel are in place...not so sure this is "right."  How many dresser drawers get stained on the inside by the makers?

So, I have put the face back in place, did more pics in order to post it online, either auction (yeah, probably eBay, as much as I'd like to avoid posting there) or at a set price on, or maybe to send to a clock dealer or collector if it is worth offering it to them, at a set price...if I can determine an accurate value.

So, that is where I am at right now...need to do more research.....

And that is what the next blog will be about! Coming later today or tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holy Smokes, I have FANS.....

I just noticed today I have a 22 official "followers."

Wow....I guess I am doing something right....keeping you folks entertained, anyway....word is spreading, too. Considering I don't promote the blog much anywhere, other than Facebook, I suppose that is ok. I have seen other bloggers with far more "followers", but I'm not going to stop bloggin' because I have "only" 22 and not 2200 followers.

Still, the more the merrier! Spread the word! Don't keep this blog a secret!
Also, I am on Facebook, under FEDORA ANTIQUES. I usually use my neon store sign as an "avatar":

Sometimes it is lit up, this:

 I had this sign made many years ago...well, about 13 years ago. I had a friend in the custom neon biz that gave me a decent deal...$3500, which I paid over time. It is about 3.5' or so high, and is meant to go outside. I have had it mounted on one store, for a year, and then it was put in storage....never did get it mounted on the exterior of my next shop, just never seemed to get around to it...and I was there for 4 years....
It did get put up outside, one other time (without my permission) as a prop in a movie that was filmed in Winnipeg, but other than that, it has been inside for 12 of those 13 years, which accounts for its decent condition today.  These pics are actually from about when I got it (2nd pic), and after it was mounted above my store (1st pic)

Got off on a tangent again, didn't I?

So, "fans"...yes, it seems I have garnered some. Going to get a big ego! Though, I think cleaning the cats' litter boxes will bring me back to earth pretty quickly....the stench of cat urine tends to break through pretty much any dream state...

Now, those of you who do not have cats, and are not those readers who have cats and who just realized that their partner asked them to clean out the cat's litter box, and are still with me...oh wait, this is a blog, you can just stop reading and come back, can't you...?  Hmm...

Ok, just for those readers who are cat owners: Those of you who have just come back from cleaning your cat's litter boxes, here is a reminder: WASH YOUR HANDS.

All clear, no litter on the keyboard, cat on your lap, all appreciative that their dirt box doesn't reek...?


Back to business.

Ok, not quite business....back to Facebook...aka "Crackbook" as my wife and others call it. So, I seem to have garnered more than just potential customers during the course of promotion of my business...yes, during my "wasting time" on Crackbook...uh, I mean Facebook. I'm coming across a few people who have expressed that they would like to meet me...not to come and buy something (though that may occur, I'd assume), but just meet me.

I assume they could accurately be called fans?

So, my "15 minutes of fame" has arrived, I guess, or started.  I wonder how Mike, Frank, Danielle et al are dealing with their new found fame?   Has to be a weird situation....all sorts of people saying "Hello Mike!" and you will have no idea who they are....

Wait, that already happens to me...(no, no, no, my name is not "Mike", too).....but I have always just chalked it up to having a bad memory, and poor "recognition" of the people I have dealt with in the past (or to whom I am related to and don't see that often.....)

Maybe I am famous already, and just don't remember that I am famous....or...WAIT, maybe I am on a "The Truman Show" type program....! Ok, where is that damn camera.....!!??!? is a weird thing.  

It likely opens some doors, both opportunity wise and pickin' wise! Imagine, the AP gang has nearly 4 million people potentially looking for leads for them! I hear they get over a thousand emails a day...

Overwhelming numbers!

I can't even keep up with the leads I find myself!   Mind, you, that has more to do with cash flow than lacking time to pursue leads. Although, the fact of the matter is that there are leads EVERYWHERE.  It is just that many people don't recognize them.  There are good "scores" to be had all over, and some in very obvious places. Sometimes the fact that it is obvious is the very reason no one has pursued the lead. EVERYONE has assumed that lead has been followed up. Odds are it has, but sometimes the odds work in your favor.

Don't assume!  Like one of my high school English teachers said: Assume makes an ASS out of U and ME.

Ok, so assuming it won't make an ass out of you in this case, but it might cause you to miss a good buying opportunity in front of your nose.

Assuming may actually make an ass out of you in this business, actually.  Ignoring a customer dressed in less than cutting-edge fashions may loose you the opportunity to sell pieces to the most advanced collector of art glass in the world....or meet "THE Authority" in the field of your particular collecting interest.

Many serious collectors sometimes appear as if their mothers are the ones picking out their clothing. Or, apparel is "rough" looking...sort of like what I tend to wear...worn/torn jeans, button-up long sleeve shirts (winter) and T-shirts (summer). No, I am no fashion plate.....

Some may well prefer to spend the "real money" on their passion, collecting, rather than on overpriced clothing.  Or, if they are like me, they may regularly "destroy" their clothing, so tend not to spend big money on their duds.  Picking the way I do is hard on clothes. I don't wear $50 shirts...oh, wait, correction, I don't wear $50 shirts unless they cost me $5 or less....preferably $2 or less!

Anyway, doesn't matter.

Surprise, surprise, I don't wear Armani suits out picking!

I WILL however, PICK vintage Armani suits given the opportunity! 

Ok, ok, yes, I am getting to the point, soon....

I have gone into "hoity-toity" antiques stores, having come fresh out of a basement of some building down the street from them, and gotten some looks of suspicion. While they are keeping a hairy-eyeball on me, they fawn over the well dressed couple, who are just killing time while their take out order next door is being prepared, and who I have already overheard call the owners merchandise "overpriced old junk."

Occasionally in these shops I will spot something great, and grossly under priced, and want to see the item (if inaccessible to me)...the proprietor will then take it out of the showcase/off the back shelf, all the while showing obvious reservation.  I inspect the item to my satisfaction, tell them I will take it, and pull out the cash....leaving them stumped/surprised...or closely inspecting the $100 bill I gave them.

I try to treat everyone the same, and I know it is tough.  We are programmed in this world to be suspicious, always cautioned by media of all kinds...and even your own parents

"Don't talk to strangers, dear."

Hmm.....if we actually listened to that last one, we'd never make any friends now, would we?

Tough to do that in business, too...most of our first time customers ARE strangers. 

One of the toughest parts of picking is approaching people...all these "scary strangers" you have to talk to that your mother warned you about...and there are some out right strange strangers out there. But, they are all just people. You will need to approach all sorts of people if you want to succeed in this business. I initially had a heck of a time at first, doing a cold call, as I was pretty darn shy guy. But, after awhile, you just go and DO IT.  Yeah, sometimes you don't "feel like it", but if this is your living you even have to push yourself at those times. Take it from me, I may well have missed a score of a lifetime because I didn't "feel" like dealing with anyone at the moment I recognized the "lead".

  Yes, I have blogged about it already, and it is a LONG (and sad, from my point of view!) story, so if you have no idea what I am talking about, you will just have to read farther back in my blog. 

I have talked to owners of companies, and those same companies' janitors, and I try to approach them all the just people.

They are not superior to me, and are not inferior to me.

Just people.

So, why is it we sometimes get all googly eyed, tongue tied, etc when we go to talk to, or approach, "celebs"? They are just people, for crying out loud. 

Yeah, sure I want to meet Mike and Frank, but I'm actually interested in selling them a truckload of stuff.....I've accumulated WAY too many old bikes...and I want to get Frank collecting CANADIAN oil company know, create a regular, new, customer!  And Danielle? Sure, she seems like a cool person, we'd be happy to have her over to listen to tunes, yak, B.S. a bit with while sitting around the bonfire quaffing a few beers. Heck, I'd even offer to let her ride along on a picking trip, and give her some pointers on picking Canadian prairie style! 

Am I googly eyed over her?


Star struck?


But, I have not met her in person yet. So, who knows, maybe when the time comes, my tongue will trip over itself....

That is, if I even recognize her.

I have talked to a few celebs, walked by them, stared right at them, etc, and not realized who the heck they were.

Once a guy and a local politician came into my store. The politician was in charge of  promoting Winnipeg to the entertainment industry (film companies doing movies, TV, concerts, etc).

The guy and the politician inquired if I had any antique architectural items; but large stuff, large stuff, like stone sculpture, that sort of thing. I didn't have anything at the time, and suggested he leave his email address & phone number with me.  The guy looked a little put off, and then the politician offered to be the go between.   I thought that was kind of weird, but said ok and took his card.

I found out after they left that it was Bill Paxton.   Frankly, if I passed him on the street today I STILL wouldn't know who he was!

A friend's daughter was working in their antique store when a pleasant and well spoken lady came in, who inquired if they had any of a certain pattern of china, Dionne Quintuplets items or antique snowglobes.

She showed the lady some of the inventory that met her criteria, and the customer selected some of the items.

My friend's daughter took the items to the counter, wrapped them up, and processed the woman's credit card in their manual machine,  "zip-zip".  (Like the sound effects?)
She gave the lady the slip to sign, and then exchanged it for the customer copy. Thanks-you's were exchanged, the bag of the items handed across the counter, and the transaction finished.

The customer walked out the door, and the clerk watched as the woman got into a limo that pulled up in front of the store.

It wasn't until she read the name on the impressed receipt that she realized who she had just served.

The impression of the card holder's name was clearly visible...and read:

Granted, my friends (and their daughter) are originally from England, and, even though they have been in Canada since the 1980s, they are not as familiar with Joan Rivers as you and I might be. 

I completely understand how it is possible to miss recognizing a celebrity.  I seem to do it on a pretty regular basis!

A friend and I were gabbing while standing in the middle of his downtown antique shop one day. We yakked for an easy half hour or more, while customers milled around. His wife was tending the counter and taking care of customers while we shot the breeze.

We half noticed a family of 3 leave, and then the guy poked his head in the door, to inquire about the price of a beat-up and heavily repainted Coca-Cola sign my friend had in the window.  He said it wasn't for sale, and the guy went on his way. My friend keeps the sign in his window to attract attention, and it catches people's eyes so much, that it is worth more as an attention getter than what he could ever sell it for, considering condition it is is all doctored up, so it looks good from 15 feet away, as people walk by, pass in their cars, and as they sit at the stoplight and gawk about.

So, we sauntered back to the counter, so he could catch up with his wife on what had sold while we were absorbed in our conversation. She then asked us if we had realized that Richard Gere and his wife Carey Lowell had been in the store shopping with their kid....

Yep, the guy who poked his head back in the door was Mr. Gere...

You can understand how it is possible to miss recognizing those celebs when you get a look at a variety of photos of them sans make-up, and in day to day situations...grabbing milk at the local convenience store, picking up a pack of cigarettes at the gas station, some diapers at their local Shoppers Drug Mart. They look pretty ordinary when it comes down to it. Put them in a large crowd, and if you were to have to pick them out, you'd have to really look & study all the faces.

On the other hand, they would have been more recognizable with a major, distinguishing, almost trademark, feature...say, a real character face (think: Keith Richard), a wild hairstyle (think Don King), a visible scar, distinctive tattoo, an extra single eye in the middle of their forehead.....well, okay, maybe not that last one.

If you are like me...well, maybe a distinctive feature won't help you recognize a celeb, either...

I had gotten a flat tire on my vehicle, on #1 Highway, the Trans Canada....the Trans Canada aka #1 Highway, is the main highway that runs right across Canada, coast-to-coast. The tire went dead flat near a set of lights, on near Portage La Prairie, within sight of a gas station. Good thing, too, because when I dragged the spare out of the back of the truck and plopped it on the ground it was flat, too.

Annoyed at my not so good luck, I half dragged, half rolled the spare, which had no obvious issues, to the gas station. As it turned out, the bays had been recently turned into a store.

So, I headed to the pay phone at the back of the store, for a phone book to find the number of a near-by tire repair shop or garage.  When I got there, there was a guy yakking on the phone. He was standing over the phone, blocking my view, as well as access, to the little shelf where the phonebook sits.   Even if the book was visible, usually they are tied to some cable so you can't go farther than a foot from the phone, anyway. He was absorbed in his conversation, and I wasn't about to bug him.  I stood there for what seemed like eons, with as well as some other people glancing at the guy, who all seemed interested in using the phone, too.

My level of annoyance was rising, and I suspect my facial expressions and body language was starting to scream "get off the f****** phone, other people need to use it, damn it!"

Finally, he noticed I was standing there. He told the person on the other end that someone was waiting to use the phone, and that he'd call them later.

Cripes, FINALLY!

He walked away from the phone, nodding a greeting, I gave a short, curt nod back, and went to grab the phonebook...

Which wasn't there.


So, I walked over to the now not-so-busy front counter, and asked if they had a phonebook I could look at.
The clerk handed me a thick volume, and I set it down, flopped it open, and started looking for a tire shop number.

I found what I was looking for, dug out change, and called a couple numbers. Finally I got one who would come out and pick up my tires.

Satisfied, and a little calmer with arrangements made, and my blood pressure lower, I started to take a little more notice of my surroundings.  Most of the crowd had cleared out, and there was a couple people chatting, something about autographs and this and that.

Wait a second, autographs? The picker in me thought "maybe a lead?"

Then I noticed these people's jittery type excitement....and a big bus outside...a bus tour maybe? Would explain why the place was hopping when I walked in....

Well, how about a TOUR BUS?

It quickly came apparent that the guy I "stared" off the phone was none other than Billy Gibbons, from ZZ TOP (only part of a long list of other reasons to recognize him - including being a prominent hot rod guy...Yes, I do really like ZZ Top's stuff....I am a 70's/80's kid, as well as being a hot rod fan).....and to top it off, here he is and he is in the same/same style (can you say "trademark?") hat that he was wearing that very day!

Yup, just people.

Amazing how I do not recognize these people, and yet I can pick out a treasure hidden amidst a pile of junk, and a treasure that everyone who saw the pile missed. A well developed might even be able to call it a talent.

And, that is what I am...just people...I mean, just a person. Yes, I have a talent. Yes, I hope to parlay it into something "more"...someday. We'll see, I am still working on it.

 So, any of you "fans" (or future "fans") out there, keep that in mind.  We (you, me, and the guy/gal over there) all have faults, issues, pasts, skeletons-in-our-closets, families, relatives, friends, etc, etc, etc.
We're all just plain ol' human. Fame all depends on mere circumstances, really.  Did you ever see the movie "The Postman?" Yeah, ok, I know some of you likely hate Kevin Costner's acting, blah, blah, blah...that isn't is these lines that happen to strike a chord:

Costner (as The Postman): "I know you! You're....famous."

Petty: "I was once....sorta."

Then later in the movie Tom Petty says to Costner:

"I heard of you, man... you're famous! "

Costner: "Yeah, I guess I am... "

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Junk TV....better than junk food!

First Pawn Stars....

Then American Pickers....and Canadian Pickers is on the horizon....*SIGH*....the concept I should have pursued heavier than I did several years ago...I always seem to be too far ahead of the curve. Oh well...

Then Auction Kings was a recent addition to the Discovery Channel's offerings....

And the most recent addition to hit the air was American Restoration. (PS, AP and AR are all on the History Channel, BTW.)

Wow, junk is getting popular....though that is something I have been involved with for pretty much 98% of my life..and mainly by choice! You'd think I'd have been be on TV by now, eh?

I think it is a good thing that it ("buying and selling junk") is being recognized as a legitimate business. Though my mother, despite my over 20 years of being immersed in the junk business, seems to be a still somewhat of the mind that it is not a "real job."  She cares for my well being, which is the basis of her concern. But, I'd would not be happy doing a 9 to 5 job at some government desk jockey position, holding a sign on a highway for some work crew, driving a transport truck, doing someones accounting, etc, etc.

Maybe these programs will change her mind about what I do...legitimize it in her mind.  Maybe these programs will change the minds of all our relatives and friends...all those folks who have been telling us to "get a real job."

Hey, guess what, people? It IS a real job! 

I have been involved in all sorts of "junk" and recycling efforts. I'm a recycler overall, even when it comes to non-vintage junk. Part to make cash,  partly because it assists in satisfying my creative bend, and partly because I think we waste WAY too much good "stuff".  I have (and still do) attended government surplus auctions, submitted bids for government surplus online, gone to many a bankruptcy auction, worked with/along side demolition crews doing salvage, bought salvage rights to properties, cleaned out buildings ranging from little sheds to 30,000 sqr foot warehouses,  hauled van loads of reusable packing materials from factories, and on and on and on....Yeah, I love junk, what can I say?

Well, a new show has hit the airwaves, this time via SPIKE.   And, it again is something that I've done, in a way. I'd do it the same way these guys seem to be doing it, as I have done pretty much everything else...

What do they do?

 They buy storage locker contents.

 You see, when people default on the rent of their storage lockers, the storage companies end up with the legal ownership of the contents. Seeing as the big storage companies aren't in the "junk liquidation" business, they call in an auction company to auction off the contents of those lockers.

Ok, some of you are thinking "Oh yuck, someones old moldy couch and crap."

Sure, there is some of that....but, there can be hidden treasure, just like when you are picking. You just need to know what you are doing...and have a strong back....or at least a partner with a strong back!

I've bought "blind" in a similar way...there are many auctions I attend that sold lots by the boxful, just as they were pulled out of attics, storage lockers, etc.  The auction companies in Manitoba generally now try to maximize the returns on the sales of the contents of lockers, so it all gets put out, and sold bit by bit.   These guys on Spike's  "AUCTION HUNTERS" buy the whole contents of the lockers, sort of sight unseen, though they might be able to see into the lockers, but the stuff isn't pulled out, just the door opened...a bit of a tease as to what is inside. Could be a bunch of boxes, but, what do they contain? Clothes? Coins? Gold? Last year's newspapers?

 My knowledge base and "trained eyes" help me to recognize many things that can be hidden in the midst of run-of-the-mill stuff.....seeing treasure shining amongst the trash where others see only trash. But, unfortunately, when it comes to storage lockers, things are done differently in Manitoba. Auctioneers haul it all out, and sell the stuff bit by bit. They are hoping to maximize their profits as well as helping the locker companies' recoup more of their back rent.

Still, I have bought enough "site unseen" type of lots to know exactly what it is like!
But, for those of you who have not experienced the "rush" (and the disappointment, too!) this show seems to promise a first hand view...or at least an over the shoulder view.

Will be an interesting show...'cause I know how interesting my life in the junk biz has been!  We junkers are an unconventional sort!

Here is a brief description of the show, as per Spike:

Every day in America, there are over ten thousand abandoned storage units that are put up for public auction. Each unit has the potential to be a goldmine or a bust for those who make their living hunting unclaimed property. This eight half-hour episode series follows two of the best prospectors in the business, Clinton "Ton" Jones and Allen Haff, in their quest to win auctions, acquire treasure and sell it for profit.

Here are some teaser videos to whet your junkin' appetite!

For more on Auction Hunters, hit SPIKE!