Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Junk TV - Yet Another Show...Wait, Hey, I KNOW THAT GUY!

Well, well, well...I guess it was only a matter of time before I would see a show with someone I have crossed paths with in this business!


This twist on the junk biz features Extreme Escape Artist Steve Santini, who, really, is already a vet of Reality TV, seeing as many of his escapes have been televised, and there are multitudes of his videos to see on You Tube.

He has also managed to earn the moniker of "The World's Most Extreme Escape Artist." His videos online will be proof enough to that...and am sure that he will do some of his escapes as part of this latest show, also!

Yes, I do know Steve...or, rather, knew him. It was when he was starting out in the 1990s, and was calling himself "The Great Santini." We had a mutual friend at the time; a fellow dealer, so yes, we have crossed paths.

I would think he has dropped the moniker of "The Great Santini", long ago, considering the fact that there was a  novel and then a movie (based on the novel,) utilizing the same title.  I would think that really could have really confused the issue for some people.

Anyway, from the videos I have seen online, and photos, etc, he has actually developed more into a "character" (but those of us dedicated to this "junk" all are, when it comes right down to it!) than when I knew him. That is a good thing, really.  Guess he has found himself, which is cool. We all need to do that, really! I'm workin' on it! Figure I am a project 90% completed!

Anyway, I am actually looking forward to the show.   He has been a long time collector of Titanic items, handcuffs, and "dark" items, and as I recall was enthusiastic about collecting way back then, so I hope that is still the case.

Congrats, Steve!  Lookin' forward to the show!

Junk TV - Let Me Count Thy Programs

Was just thinking about how many "Junk TV" shows that have popped up in the last 2 years.

The most recent (at the time of my writing this) is "The Big American Auction", which I mentioned in my last posting.

Another new show called "Real Deal" aired Nov 27th on History Channel (USA).

Others that have aired in the last 2 years include (in no particular order):

American Pickers
Canadian Pickers
Cash & Cari
Pawn Stars
Hardcore Pawn
Picker Sisters
Storage Wars
Storage Wars: Texas 
Auction Hunters
Storage Hunters 

Born Dealers / Natural Born Dealers (retitled "Born Dealers" for Discovery TV of Canada)

Another recent spin-off of PAWN STARS is about to air, also. Surprise, surprise...not.

It is set in central Louisiana,  entitled.....wait for it.....CAJUN PAWN STARS ! Actually, I don't know if that is the official title.....

Damn, it IS the official title...! 

Oh well, guess it was the only natural choice.

Now, I am also waiting for an AMERICAN version of THIS show to arrive!

The blogger of that article calls it "Antiques Roadshow With A Sledgehammer!"

Personally, I think that would actually make a darn fine real name for the American version of the show....and I'd LOVE to host it!

As a dealer who is SO tired of repros, fakes, etc messing up the market place & values, and causing anguish among beginning collectors and long time collectors alike, not to mention us dealers...  it would be SO cool to see some of that crap get what it deserves!

 Imagine, smashing the crap out of fakes, repros, etc...a dream job for some dealers! Imagine the satisfaction you would get from your job!

Hmmm.....I think I am going to go now....I need to get my resume ready....and hone up on my sledgehammer swingin' skills....

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dolly's Dear Dolls' Destiny

With Boxing Day having arrived and departed, I got thinking about all the soon to be ignored toys that parents around the world will be tossing into boxes marked with phrases such as "give away", "4 garage sale", "Donations","Charity", etc.  One of the things I see many of in the toy sections of thrift stores are dolls. Yes, I do check out those as well...vintage Barbies and other dolls can be worth good bucks! Usually what is in the jumble or "displays" tend to be... well, bedraggled...abused, chewed and generally in what some would term as "loved" condition...but, if that indicates they had been "loved," then I think that the kids who played with them should be closely monitored when they grow up and have kids....!

So, in my avoidance of doing some work (it is the holidays, after all!) I got doing a few random searches for related blogs.

I figured I would share a few of my finds in the world of "Thrift Store" related blogging. Yes, I do some thrift store picking as part of my buying, and see funny things, but so often do not have my camera with me...tho I do buy some of the things that make me laugh...or want to say WTF?!?! And, yes, I will post them from time to time. Already posted a picture of one bizarre item, which you likely read about already....yes, it was the "plastic bag space helmet!"

So, now check out these 2 bloggers' posts....

WARNING, if  creepy dolls haunt your nightmares, DON'T CLICK THESE LINKS lest you view more freaky plastic faces will haunt your dreams!

This post made me laugh.....and shudder...! Let's Go Thrifting: What The Thrift!? An Army of Undead Dolls

Another gem from the same thrifter/blogger: What The Thrift!? The Knock-Off Doll Head Edition.

And one more creepy doll post from another blogger, ONE GAL'S TRASH

Hmmm......almost makes me think I should start a website just for people to post photos of creepy dolls....!

And with that, I am headed to bed...to dream of dancing, disfigured, disjointed doll heads...

Realities of the Junk Biz Lifestyle VS Reality TV - Part One...of many to come)

Ah, you are back! GOOD. At least you want to learn!

(Oh, warning, no pictures exist in this posting.) 

Just the facts, period.

The thing is, when you are in the "junk biz" "stuff happens," just as it does to anyone else.....and sometimes  "stuff happens" even more-so.

Times can be tough. 

An expected/unexpected bill can pop up. 

You could get so overworked/tired/stressed that you need a vacation or you will loose your mind and/or your family.

You may need to take an urgent trip via airline, and not be able to pick up a "cheap flight" and have to pay the airlines top-end rates.

You need to take some other emergency trip, maybe rescue of friend from a bad relationship, or just "be there" for someone.

You may wish to take time off just to be with a friend/relative in the last months/days/hours of their lives. 

You suddenly may have health issues of your own arise, or need to assist a  family member or friend in health related issue.

You may trip on a half-buried wire while in a scrap yard, resulting in a face-meets-chrome impact, and leave some extra patina and scuffs on that Dodge DeSoto bumper you were after...but at least you know roughly where to look for the other halves of your front teeth....seeing as you did hear 2 "pings" as they ricocheted off the grill.

Of course, I could keep going on and on and on. However, those of you who have been on that long road of life for more than, say, a quarter century, without the family safety net constantly hovering underneath their tightrope....well, you all don't need reminders of the past.  

I do want to make those who are new to the junk biz well aware of the realities of the junk biz lifestyle.  

ATTENTION ALL of you who fall under these categories,

  - Reality-TV-Is-Real-Life-True-Believers
  - newbie-but-I-AM-A-PROFESSIONAL-Storage-Locker-Buyers
  - Wannabe-Pickers
  - among other hoards of those people, falling under multiple known (and currently unknown) categories of those who are  bushy-tailed-bright-eyed-earnestly-peering-through-their-rose-colored-glasses with that 100 yard I-am-going-to-be-rich-buying-and-selling-other-people's-junk sort of dazed stare

 PLEASE CLOSELY read the next 6 points:

(1) EASY MONEY DOES NOT EXIST IN THE JUNK BIZ....nor anywhere else.

(2) YOU CAN NOT KEEP ALL/MOST/MUCH OF THE GOOD/COOL/VALUABLE/NEAT/INTERESTING/WEIRD/USEFUL/BIZARRE STUFF AND EXPECT TO MAKE A LIVING.... unless your business plan includes being a paid regular on Hoarding: Buried Alive and other similar shows..

(3) IF YOU ARE A COLLECTOR WHO AGONIZES OVER SELLING OR GETTING RID OF THINGS DO NOT GET INTO THE JUNK BUSINESS....at least until you have seen a shrink, the therapy is complete and worked, allowing you to finally no longer hate your mother for giving away your Optimus Prime Transformer to the neighbor kids after you FINALLY moved out of your  parent's home... for the first time, anyway.

(4) IF YOU TRULY BELIEVE YOU WILL IMMEDIATELY MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO SUPPORT YOURSELF (LET ALONE YOUR FAMILY, TOO) YOU ARE DREAMING...AND PURSUIT OF THE DREAM WILL MEAN A NIGHTMARE IS SURE TO BE NEXT...it is better to "keep dreaming" rather than live a nightmare and have a stress induced heart attack....and never dream again.

(5) IF YOU ARE A MAJOR GERMAPHOBE, BE SURE TO ADD THE COSTS OF EXTENSIVE THERAPY INTO YOUR "EXPENSES" SECTION OF YOUR ACCOUNTING RECORDS....and do let me know...as I want to buy as much stock in  glove and hand sanitizer makers....that way I can retire within a year.

(6) IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW IT ALL, YOU DON'T....but, if you still insist you know it all, let me know when and where you set up to sell your wares. I love to buy things from people who are such experts. It gives me such confidence! I am constantly awestruck while in their presence....especially when I think of the huge profits I will make from the items I buy from them. I also thoroughly enjoy the stories they tell, as historical fiction is a favorite of mine.

- THE END - 

- CAN NOT LOOK, NOR THINK BEYOND WHAT SOMEONE SAYS IS "THE END" (if you are reading this, congratulations!)

If so, you are far better off to stay on your couch, and keep watching Reality TV.....

You see, (and do realize that I do say this with utmost sincerity,) your favorite "Junk TV" shows are as close to  real as you truly ever wish to experience....I'll bet your sanity on it.

The "New" Collector Celebs - The other side

Reality TV's foray into the "Junk Lifestyle" has created a number of newly minted "Celebs".

We already all know that many celebs are known to be collectors, including:

Louie Anderson - high quality Mission/Arts & Crafts Furniture - Especially Stickley

Whoopi Goldberg  - Bakelite, rare books, Maxfield Parrish prints (and other Parrish items)

Oprah Winfrey - Black Americana

Bill Cosby - African-American Art

Demi Moore - Dolls (and no, I am not counting Ashton Kutcher, for those of you who are so inclined. As for me, the only thing I like Ashton Kutcher for is the fact he made 1970s & 1980s trucker/farmer caps a cool fashion thing...helped me sell 500 or so of the 2000 I had...)

Barbara Taylor Bradford - Victorian Silver Spoons

Donald Trump - (yes, he collects more than cash, real estate, and supermodels!) - Art by Mark Gonzales, marble figural statues

Jay Leno - Antique & Classic autos and other vehicles

and I can go on, and on, and on, and on....

But, the new crop borne from Reality TV's "Junk Lifestyle" programming have one major difference...they were heavy collectors before they were celebs.....and quite likely were collecting before it was "trendy" and "fashionable."

And many (if not most) were collecting well before they had access to ready cash to heavily finance their collecting habits, and have that extra spending cash to shell out for those "Holy Grail" items when they do pop up. Their celebrity certainly makes those items more available...with millions of fans, you have several million eyes looking for those items for you, not to mention TV's long reach to those who may be knowingly (or unknowingly) harboring those items.

Before that, many of the same collectors would have to make some major sacrifices to be able to afford some items they wanted, pass those items up entirely, or buy them and own them for a very brief time before having to sell them to pay bills, or risk financial ruin, minor and major.

Reyne Haines, a a junk TV celeb in her own right, and blogger for The Huffington Post (as well as being 1/3rd of the group of cupcake queens extraordinaire) did an interview with "American Pickers" Mike Wolfe, which can be found on The Huffington Post HERE.

 The collectors I truly admire are really not those who have bank accounts to back them up, and buy anything that they desire, or think will impress those around them. 

Now, I myself am a collector. However, my collecting habits now tend to lean towards items that have some historical, and mainly local, or at least historical Canadian significance, and are not as readily salable as items. 

This vein of collecting, for me, does allow for those items to remain in my hands for longer periods than, say, collecting high quality Coca-Cola items, Petroliana items, etc.

"Why?" to the second power

Ah, now you are confused....!

Ok: Why do I have more respect for those who are not well off/wealthy who have created wonderful collections?


 Why do my collections now lean towards the areas mentioned?

Yep, it is another cliff hanger...you will have to read my next blog posting!



Thursday, December 22, 2011

What the Dickens? Provenance Has Gone To The Dogs!

Everything is worth examining closely.

Even dog collars.

Yep, you heard me correctly....

Ok, ok, ok, READ me correctly....

As it is, "pet" related vintage items are collectible, from vintage dog collars, to training items, to water bowls and food dishes.

But that is not quite what I am leading to.

You see, "provenance" can make what appears to be a middle-of-the-road collectible item (or even very, very ordinary item) very, very, very valuable.'

SO many people have things that they swear up and down that so and so famous person used this, touched this, slept in, stepped on, fired, opened, closed, etc, etc, etc, etc.

Now, if you have a PHOTO of that person with that item (and it is DEFINITELY that item), or some other irrefutable documentation, ok, then you have something.  But, if you have only your great,great,great uncle's word (passed down through many other of your Uncles) that President Abe Lincoln left his pocket watch to be repaired and never picked it up...and you have that very watch.....well, the value of that word can be summed up in one word, also..."worthless."

A family story says little, unless your 3x Great Uncle was the official Presidential Pocket Watch Repair Person...and you can prove THAT...then maybe it has some credibility.

Even it WAS the case...if you can't prove it, well, hope there is some of Abe's DNA stuck on the watch somewhere...because that may be the only way you will be able to link that watch to him. There are other ways, such as photographs, other documentation filed elsewhere, etc...but, until you have copies of that other proof...it is a pocket watch that is worth just what any other pocket watch is worth.

So, what do dogs have to do with this?

Charles Dickens.

Well, Charles Dickens' dog, actually.

Check this out: That's some dog collar: Neckwear of Charles Dickens' dog sells at auction for $11,590


And in this case, the collar has the provenance engraved right on it.

Normally, provenance is not that easy to nail down.  However, it does happen, on occasion. You just need to keep your eyes open, your mind open, etc. Weird things happen...nasty turns of life happens to the most famous of the population. Celebs loose items to banks, sports figures pawn their championship rings, noted heroic war vets sell their medals, etc. These people are just that...people, very human.

But, just because something has the initials "JFK" on it does not mean it belonged to John F Kennedy...doesn't; matter if your grandpa found that comb in a washroom in Washington.
.....well, it might have belonged to JFK, but the John F Kennedy it did belong to was a plumber from Tallahassee....was visiting a cousin in Washington, and never had presidential aspirations...not even for the top seat in the local Plumbers Union.

Those strands of hair that was found in it?

Yep, it is just some greasy chunk of some balding plumber's dome.

Just hope he didn't part his hair on his back...or lower.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

TOYS & KID'S STUFF - Totally Spaced Out

So, in the flavor of the season, I figured I should do a few blogs on kid's stuff.

No, not goats, children's items.....toys, cartoons, whatever...

In my hunting for forgotten treasures, I come across some weird things.  Usually toys generally do not fall into the category of "weird", even being vintage or truly antique.

But, some items I have found do fall into the "WTF were they thinking?!!?!?" category.

 Take this 1950s piece as an example:

YES, it is a PLASTIC BAG with a space mask printed on it!

What sane parent would hand this to their child????

But, hey, there are places to cut out eye holes and mouth holes...so, you know, it is surely safe....

The even more potentially alarming thing is that I suspect it was a "premium"...that is, something that was a giveaway, maybe a mail order thing...send 3 box tops to Station Z, PO Box 123....but more than likely it was something that was included in food...and food that was marketed for children's consumption....

Say, like dry cereal.

So, imagine a kid on a early Saturday morning, getting up to watch cartoons..or that cool Indian chief in a headdress image, or the target style test pattern (perfect for those suction darts!), whichever was on, and pouring themselves a bowl of Sugar-Smacker-Os...

And out pops this little gem of a prize into the bowl !


Nice, a 1950s, child's self-suffocation kit in a box!

But, perhaps kids in of the 1950s were a little more savvy...they did have tin toys with sharp edges all over the place, and I rarely see blood stains all over 1950s toys, and in 50s houses.  Or, maybe the baby boomers have many "missing" siblings....yep, plastic bag space masks...they were all some nasty Commie plan to wipe out America's future...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nazis And Recycling: A Sort of Hitler Youth Knife - Part 3

Ok, so, this knife we have been talking about...or rather, I have been talking about....ok, ok....I have been TYPING about about...(You happy Ms/Mr Fussypants???)

ANYWAY, this knife is termed a "Ridgeback"...and also commonly called a "sawback".

Story goes that this style of back was meant for inflecting the worst damage possible and entry and exist of a human body part...

Who knows what the true facts are...they may be lost to history, or maybe someone out there has official paperwork that will clarify the facts, who knows.

It is noted in Wikipedia that:  "One of these multipurpose designs was the sawback bayonet, which incorporated saw teeth on the back spine of the bayonet blade. The sawback bayonet was intended for use as a general-purpose utility tool as well as a weapon; the teeth were designed to facilitate the cutting of wood for various defensive works such as barbed-wire posts, as well as for butchering livestock. It was initially adopted by Great Britain in 1869, followed by Switzerland in 1878, and Germany in 1905. The sawback proved relatively ineffective as a cutting tool, and was soon outmoded by improvements in military logistics and transportation; most nations dropped the sawback bayonet feature by the turn of the century. The German army discontinued use of the sawback bayonet in 1917 after protests that the saw-toothed blade caused unnecessarily severe wounds when used as a fixed bayonet."

So, what ever the real story is on "sawbacks" this one is still an oddball....why does this post WW2 knife, with NOS Hitler Youth grips have a sawback blade?  Again, who knows. One can surmise that there were WW1 era surplus bayonet blades lying around this particular factory, or perhaps there was active production of sawback blades for some other purpose in the Nazi military or other Nazi organizations of the period.

Whatever the reason, this sawback blade makes this knife an oddball. It has obviously been ground down from a longer blade, as the sawback notches continue right to the point of the point where they disappear with what the blade has been re-ground.

Now, just to throw another bit of confusion in, the Nazi German Red Cross EM Daggers also had the sawback.What its purpose really was is thus far unknown, and it seems, as happens during/shortly after wars, documentation has been lost, destroyed, misplaced, hidden, etc. There is lots of speculation out there....this thread happens to cover it a bit. I suspect that the answer lies in the the far more mundane idea that it was intended for use as a saw in making splints, crutches, etc on the field.

PLUS, the sawback feature seems to appear on other "dress" bayonets of the period...German Firemen's Dress bayonets, and more than likely others.

So, that is where I have ended my research. Thus, I have decided to price it at $125, seeing as it is an unusual example of what it is, but not a "real" Hitler Youth knife.

At this point, I am tempted to keep it, and start collecting these not quite Hitler Youth knives...but, I already have one knife collection going, and one that is more Canadian....fur trade/pioneer knives.

That is another blog post all on its own!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nazis And Recycling: A Sort of Hitler Youth Knife - Part 2

Ok, those of you who are still befuddled by my closing statements as to the Hitler Youth knives that are not  really Hitler Youth knives, this is for you!

I talked with a long time militaria collector recently,  who has 5 DIFFERENT examples of this same knife. 

He doesn't have this one.

Serious collectors will identify differences in things. 

Goes with all areas of collecting. Variations in styles, images, marks, signatures, base materials, colors, parts, compositions, age, etc, etc, etc. Some serious collectors tend to want all the different variations of something they collect. Depending on how advanced (or just plain obsessed) the collector is will determine just how minor the variation is to become something they desire to add to their collection of examples of that particular item.

Will the fellow I talked to buy this one? 

Maybe. My gut says that if he was having some good sales at the show I talked to him at, he would have said "save it for me." But, the economy the way it is, and the fact being that these knives are part of a sub-collection of his main collecting interests (WW2 militaria & weaponry), it doesn't quite "fit" perfectly in his "I Really Need This For My Collection" line of thought.  Thus, it is not a "must have that at any cost I'll eat Kraft Diner for a week instead of real food" type of item. 

As for this knife, the difference in it is that "ridge back"....but, the fact is, this may well not be the blade used on the Hitler Youth Knives. 

Also, I am NO expert on Hitler Youth knives. Nor Nazi-Germany related items, period....so I will need to do a little digging/research....you can come along for some of it.

Warning, am about to go off on what initially will seem like a tangent, rant, spewing of political opinion, etc, etc, but bear with me and work with me through this, ok?  There is a point to it, unrelated to "opinions" I may hold.

There are a couple reasons for me not becoming an expert or highly knowledgeable in Nazi items. 

(#1) It is an area in which there are FAKES galore (not to mentioned modern neo-Nazi crap, fantasy items, movie/TV props, etc.) American Civil War items are the only other category that seems to contain more  faked items..and only because the Civil War happened long before WW2....(*DUH*). 
And, a fact lesser known/realized/considered is that the events being of "recent" history, there are still NOS and previously unknown/unseen items coming out of the woodwork, especially with increased ease of any individuals access to the Internet.
I don't mean by "Fred down in Florida". I mean by those residing in countries which had been "closed" (or sealed tight) after WW2. These are countries that collectors in the "Western World" have had little or ZERO access to until recently.  Formerly communist/dictator/regime ruled countries' entrepreneurial residents  are digging into their "archives" of WW2 artifacts (IE: hoards/warehouses/caves/lake bottoms/river bottoms/battlefields/basements/attics/vets' war souvenirs/estates/etc/etc/etc) and stuff is popping out of the wood work.  (Remember when East Germany opened up?)
 Some of the real stuff look more fake than the fakes themselves...only because Mr Brawnosovitchki's uncle owned the stamping factory where the originals were made, who now owns the place, and he found a barrel of not suite perfect, but darn close, "rejects."  Originally stamped out in 1942, and got lost in the back storage in 1943, and never got melted down. Now Mr Brawnosovitchki has now discovered eBay....much to the chagrin of the half dozen collectors who have coveted their "one of 6 known" badges, all of which were brought back as battlefield souvenirs by vets.  Oh well, there goes the market!  (FYI, Mr Brawnosovitchki is a figment of my imagination, so don't bother Googling him...)

(#2) WW2s is an era that was...well....horrific when it comes down to it. 
War is war, blah, blah, blah, but when it comes down to the purposeful extermination of any human group I get a little...mmm...let's just say (and I say this being VERY conservative with my terms), "annoyed."  No, I am not interested in a debate about Nazis, Aryans, or even diverting to the politics of abortion, capital punishment, etc. I'll keep those views to myself, as should you....you may even find your views start to change with knowledge & education.

I will tell you, I do know of the existence of ORIGINAL photos of Auschwitz as it was when the first allied soldiers arrived.......BEFORE a CLEAN-UP of the site was undertaken, which is what all the currently published photos show.  Humans have done horrible things to fellow humans...we don't even know the worst of it. 

Unimaginable horrors that your most warped, psychopathic imaginative horror flick producer could not envision. Fact IS stranger (and more horrific) than fiction. Take the worst movie, "Real" YouTube video, etc, and times it by 1000 fold...then you might get halfway to envisioning the things that have occurred in reality.

Yes, the things you can potentially learn in this business goes beyond "making money from junk" can permanently alter your view of the world, and the people who inhabit it.  Sit down and talk to a vet from WW2 who experienced the front lines...if they are willing to talk about the horrific side of war.  Those who wage war are not the ones who have to deal with it, nor its after effects....and that is why war still occurs, IMHO.

Yes, this business, for me, is not all about making money.  If you are good at what you do, you will not be able to help but learn things not related to the $$$$ values of things. History wraps itself around objects.

To truly understand value, "provenance", etc, you need to listen to an object's history. I don't mean in a "New Age" sort of "this object has an aura/soul/life force of its own" sort of thing. I mean that an object was created for purpose, and was potentially used for that purpose...or was used for some other purpose, for some other reason.

And that brings me full circle...back to this particular knife and it's "ridge back" blade....and pushing it into ANOTHER separate blog post.  Many folks have short attention spans, you see!

Nazis And Recycling

I picked up a piece at an auction back in early July, in a box lot.  I did buy the box lot specifically for this particular item, and was excited to get it. Not sure what the box cost me, but it was under $10, possibly as low as $2. Bought a van load of box lots that day, and spent $175 total, and never paid more than $15 for any lot I bought.

Sort of like a mini-version of a storage locker auction, except you can check out the boxes, most of the time.  Like those sorts of auctions, you get a bunch of junk you can't really use, and sometimes there are surprises.

This item was not a surprise, though. I was pretty sure as to what I was bidding on. Considering the piece, and it's value, I was the only one who did. Not that it is worth big money, but I have tagged it at over $100. Darn good markup. Might be even worth more than that to the right guy, but we'll see.

By now you are thinking:

 "What the heck does any of this have to do with Nazis???"

Patience, my little grasshoppers, patience.

The item I bought the box lot for is pictured below:

It is a very good quality knife, dating from the mid to late 1940s. The sheath is a little chintzy in comparison...which should be your first clue something is "off."

I know, it has a symbol that looks like a Fleur-de-lis on it. So how can it be related to the Nazis of WW2?

Yes, at first glance it might be mistaken for a Boy Scout knife..but, the style of the Fleur-de-lis is not like any of the images the Boy Scouts use.

As a matter of fact, the knife is of a style used by one country's youth group.

Nazi Germany's Hitler Youth.

Actually, the grips ARE actual Hitler Youth grips.

The blade I am not so sure is a Hitler Youth blade, but I will get to that in a later blog,

Here is an enamel pin from the Hitler Youth, shown beside the knife's handle.

And, as you can see from the photo below, it conveniently matches the size and shape of the Fleur-de-lis insert! 

As it turns out, the same enameled logo was used for these knives, but with a post-style back, from what I understand.  

AH, now I recognize the look on a few faces in the crowd!!! I've seen it before. Those of you who are a little...well, devious, may be thinking, "AH, I can "create", a sort of real Hitler Youth knife with this little tip."

Forget it. Ethically, IMHO, it is wrong.

But that is neither here nor there for those of you who lean in that direction.  

I can tell you for a fact that as far as time spent compared to resulting increase in perceived value.....well, it WILL be a waste of your time.  The way these are put together, it is not worth the effort, AND odds are, you will not be able to match some key components with period replacement/period-appearing parts ANYWAY...so any real collector will not give you ANYTHING for it in the end.
SO, you will end up destroying a good piece that has ready market among militaria & knife collectors as the knife exists now, and in truth you will not really increase the value all that much to begin with...IF you know what you are looking at and how to determine what it is worth by its current composition of parts. 


Going to keep you in suspense, and give you some details in a later blog posting!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Came across an interview with Barry Weiss of Storage Wars fame. It may well sort out much of the fact from the fiction, the truth behind rumors, end speculation, blow away unfounded stories, stop (or start) trash talk, etc.

Is he a TV producer?
Is he married?
Is he real?
Is he a picker?
Is he a reseller?

and more questions will be answered!



Or cut and past this link into your browser: http://www.aoltv.com/2011/08/03/storage-wars-barry-weiss-interview/

PICKERS vs STORAGE AUCTION PEOPLE - the battle begins!

Just watched Glendon Cameron's latest video entitled "Storage Auction Tips - Storage Auction Buying Versus Picking"

 He does suggest that you start by "picking" to see if you can handle the business of buying and selling.

 First of all, I need to clarify the statement for him, I think....or rather, maybe for me and all of those professional pickers out there.

Ok, first picking is not for everyone, either.....picking antiques & collectibles, that is.

Let's sort things out a bit here....

There are all sorts of buyers people call "pickers"

There is the "garage sale picker." Out of them, I'd guesstimate that 95% (conservatively) are part timers....not real, professional, pickers, IMHO. Most people in the antiques business consider those sorts as "avid garage salers", not true pickers. Yeah, we do call them "garage sale pickers", but a "garage sale picker" is not a true professional picker.

Same goes with most thrift shop/second hand store pickers. Usually they are hobbyists, with another income which pays the bills. Sometimes that income is also connected to the vintage biz, but usually it is not. I have a lawyer friend who picks garage sales and thrift shops....but he is not a professional picker.

Now, most pickers I know who do this for a LIVING, do everything...garage sales, auctions, liquidations,  estate sales, advertise for stuff, give out flyer's, do cold calls (aka door knocking), and yes, they even hit storage locker auctions....among a number of less publicly well known ways to obtain merchandise. Some I may have mentioned here, others I have not, which I will save for a book...some are trade secrets of mine.

Now, things are QUITE A BIT different in my neck of the woods as far as "Storage Auctions" go. Folks relying on storage auctions for inventory would loose their shirts around here.


 Within a 5 hour's drive (radius) at highway speed, of where I live, there MIGHT be 4 storage unit auctions held each YEAR.  Until the "Storage Wars" and "Auction Hunters" got started airing the storage companies did things differently in this area.
The few times there was defaulted lockers, they would simply toss out the stuff, bring the stuff to auction houses or consign the contents with auction houses (who do the clean-out & pick-up the contens of the lockers)

The auction house would sell the stuff by the pallet if they (the auction house) felt it was junk, by the box if it was mediocre stuff, with the few good things pulled out and auctioned separate.....

OR if there was lots of decent stuff, it was set up like any other regular consignment auction, and most items were auctioned one by one!

 And for a few other eye openers....

Locally, gas is priced at $4.35 a gallon. Diesel is close to that (or MORE at times).

There was actually a diesel shortage in this area for a few weeks,,..so vehicles were only allowed so many gallons a week. And usually for most semitrucks that week's allotment lasted a day or 2 tops. Cube vans drink the stuff like crazy, too, as you may know.

Consider a 3 hour drive on the highway, against a Canadian prairie winter wind? No idea what that is like?

You can watch the fuel gauge needle drop...!  And you discover you have muscles that you didn't know you had....all at once cramping and in fire from wrestling the steering wheel against the cross winds, in order to keep the truck on the road.

 As you know, driving to many hours (and back) to go to a storage auction is not something you'd want to do much. Sure, if the odds are extremely in your favour to score a good unit, yeah, sure, you might take a chance...but, to do what "Auction Hunters" do and drive all "across the country" is not plausible for 99.89% of the players out there. If you have the inside track on some units coming up, their contents, the resale potential of the contents, (etc) maybe for the long time pro, with a super fuel efficient truck and time to spare........Odds are that doesn't happen much.

 Professional pickers are very versatile people.  We need to be to survive.

If I could pick just "advertising collectibles" and make a living, I would.

But, I can't. Yes, I am good at what I do...DAMN good. Best in the province according to many veteran dealers....the best in Western Canada, according to some even.

The thing is, there is just not enough of a ready collector market available, versus the expenses of finding the right items for resale to that market.

So, I became knowledgeable in a wide variety of things. I am not exactly a "Keno Brothers" sort of expert in any area, but my knowledge is decent, and in some areas it is better than the average advanced collector in those fields.

I will even pick up scrap metal, IF it makes sense, money & time wise, at that moment.  If I can buy a sign from an old garage/gas station, and they will gladly give me the "junk pile" in the back, consisting of 90% scrap radiators, catalytic converters, copper tubing, brass fittings, aluminum rims (etc), and I have the room in my van....it will get loaded, because the odds are I will make far more on the "precious metal" scrap than I will the sign...

AND, going to to ask about the scrap out back is a PERFECT way to get your foot in the door, and conversation started...and a legit look at the hidden parts of the property.

So, the fact is, some pickers are ALSO professional storage auction buyers. 

No, Barry Weiss of Storage Wars fame is not a picker. Funny guy, is being the cool dude, and all that, but essentially he is a collector having some fun. Which is cool with me. He was a picker, possibly, but is not one at this juncture.

 If he was a professional picker now, the scenario likely would have been more along this line:

 He'd have bought the lockers, been careful sorting the contents (no smashing stuff, etc), pulled out the collectible stuff he had a market for or felt was worth researching, and sold the non-collectible second hand and modern stuff in a wholesale lot sort of deal (ie: the new buyer cleans the rest out) to another bidder or a second hand shop dealer he knows....maybe even partner up with a second hand dealer, in those cases....

And then off to another storage auction, estate sale, house call, cold call, scrapyard, etc, etc, etc!

Picking is about versatility, and sourcing your merchandise from where ever you can and being able to make a buck at the same time utilizing those sources.

Yes, you may see me "doing what I do best" at a:

Country Auction 
Farm Auction
City Auction
Surplus Auction
Industrial Auction
Bankruptcy Auction
Garage Sale
Estate Sale
Porch Sale
Yard Sale
Liquidation Sale
Liquidation Company's store
Flea Market
Antique Shop
Second Hand Shop
Thrift Shop
Storage Auction
Vault Auction
Salvage Auction
Pre-Demolition Sale 
Pre-Demolition Auction
Salvage Store
Surplus Store
Scrap Yard
Salvage Yard
Auto Wreckers
Dollar Store
Hardware Store
Grocery Store
Lumber Yard
Recycling Yard
Recycling Depot
Trash Dump
Back Lane
River Bank
Dry River Bed
Open Field
Gas Station
Apartment building
Office Building
Manufacturing Plant
Storage Unit
Rock Pile
Gravel Pit
Grain Elevator
Drug Store
Military Base
Gun Show
Movie Props sale
Church Sale
Resort Town in Mexico
Small town
Funeral Home
Pawn Shop
Plumbers Office
Insurance Agency
Coffee Shop
Railway Depot
Railway Auction

The look on some of your faces were priceless when you got to different parts of the list...but, they are all places I have picked, and many I do pick.

Plus the list is far from complete....it actually goes on, and on, and on. Not to mention it grows longer as I add to the list. I am always seeking unrecognized "treasure" in all sorts of places.

I think outside the box...and inside the box, and under the box, and above the box, at the corner of the box, and...

You get the picture.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


The whole business is undergoing a change, and frankly, we really should not be surprised.

The antiques & (true) collectibles market is self adjusting, and always has been. 

Supply and demand dictates much of what we do. Certainly we have had events that cause some manipulation of the markets, and the TV hype & focus on the buying and selling aspect of the antiques/collectibles business is a media reaction to hard financial times. The media is responding to the current market.....and that market is the general public who want to know of other ways to make money, rather than relying on the traditional financial system, which in their view has failed them.

We are also seeing another major change related directly to the same principle of supply and demand.

We have a bulge in the population (the Baby Boomer generation) which have been starting to slowly sell/dispose of more vintage things than they buy. At one time, not that long ago, that situation was reversed. The collecting segment of Baby Boomers has dominated the antiques & collectibles market for some time, and they now are in the process of selling their collections. Add to that the fact that their parents are now at an age where they are entering  retirement condo complexes,  independent/assisted living  personal care homes, passing on. So the now those same  Baby Boomers are liquidating their parents belongings as well. Adding even more inventory to the market. 

Plus, the upper level of the Baby Boomers are doing those same nearing the "end of life" adjustments themselves.

So, who is consuming this burgeoning supply?  Financial conditions are not exactly ripe for consumption of non-necessities en-masse.  Also, the what well may be the majority of the items being dumped on the market are not being received by the majority of the current collecting population with open wallets. Do most 30-somethings care about a 1950s tin toy? Yes, some of them think they are neat, see their appeal, but for most of that generation, their own childhood memories are rooted in the late 1970s and 1980s. Plastic Transformers tower over tin toys when it comes to what that generation recalls from their childhood's past.

Collections sought after by previous generations will change in desirability as the consumer base changes in age. wealth, priorities and interests.

Can we manipulate the interests of the collecting consumer?

Yes, we can, but only somewhat.  Employing media based ideas such as celebrity endorsements or other such manipulations will end with mixed results, some positive, some negative, some with no effects at all.

Dealers need to adapt, change, and bend with the trends.  Survival of the most adaptable and most flexible, and those willing to twist, turn, manipulate and add to their knowledge.

We should all strive to be Transformers.

(***This post started out as a reply to posting on another blog - Viewable at:  http://www.urbanartantiques.com/2011/can-lady-gaga-make-you-buy-antiques/ )

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Day Late And A Dollar Short

Well, another one of my ideas has hit the Reality TV airwaves.

"The Great Big American Auction" is debuting Dec 8th on ABC.

But, Ty Pennington gets the credit, fame, etc....not me. Par for the course.

Funny how many of the ideas I have had end up hitting "the big time." 

The whole premise of having cameras follow me around picking, seeing the people, the situations, places, etc that I saw and dealt with, was the idea I was positive was a Reality TV, no-brainer, mega-hit. I   mentioned it to a number of movie/media types...well over 12 years ago....long before Mike even started filming himself, and later pitching "his" show idea.

No, no, no, of course he didn't steal the idea from me, he just happened to have the same idea, and he was blessed with good timing & ability to get it to the right people.

He also had the trait that other skilled pickers have...tenacity.  Sometimes timing helps, and a bit of luck never hurts!

I highly doubt he and I were the only ones with that idea, either.

I have tenacity...LOTS of it....wouldn't still be in this business if I didn't.  But good luck is something that doesn't always come easy. A few friends took to calling me "Black Cloud Barry"...things that I had zero control over seemed to smack me around.  It was like I committed some horrific acts in a prior life, and it was payback time as far as the universe was concerned.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" as the saying goes.

 I have found that to be quite true. Once a wound heals, you tend to be tougher the next time around.

You have to wear that scar as a badge of accomplishment. 

So, every time I see one of "my ideas" hit the big time or find out I missed some great stuff, I shrug and go on.

Well, ok, so I grumble, curse a bit, THEN I shrug and go on.

Shit happens and life goes on....that is my motto.  It applies to much of the way life tends to happen.

Oh well, I have LOTS of ideas, and considering how many of those very same ideas hit "the big time"  perhaps one or more of my other ideas are just as good...or better.  Hopefully, just by considering the odds thus far, I will be at the right place at the right time, and will finally know the right people to make that one  great idea reality. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Junk TV

Was just checking out the "stats" on the blog, and noticed that someone came across my blog by searching for (and I quote):

"canadian pickers" gone for good?

Not sure what the person doing that search is thinking....as far as I know, there is still season 2 coming out, and from what I have heard down the antiques biz grapevine is that Sheldon Smithens and Scott Cozens, the hosts from the first season of Canadian Pickers have been signed for a THIRD season.

I do think that is odd, considering the 2nd season hasn't even aired.....but, maybe the production company knows something we don't.

 What I do know is that there has been quite a bit of discontent from folks across the entire "junk biz" spectrum, as far as the current choice of hosts for "Canadian Pickers".   Comments from 99% of those folks have, well, lets just say they haven't exactly been very complimentary.

I don't want to relay anything here, as I know it will be perceived by some people out there as "sour grapes" on my part.


 I'm not getting paid by any production companies to offer my expertise, market research, etc, and they obviously have no interest in what we all think, anyway.

By "we" I mean the the majority of people who make up the "junk business."

Reality TV production groups would be well advised to vet their ideas through a panel of TRUE veterans of this business before they make the decisions that have been made as to host choices, venues, etc, etc.   I suppose any eyes watching makes for profits, even if most of those viewer eyes are rolling constantly. Longevity of most of these shows is something that is obviously not in the production companies' plans.  These are not "British Antiques Roadshow" grade programs when it comes right down to it.

I do enjoy most of the shows, though on average, my eyes roll more than they would while watching the Antiques Roadshow (with the the exception being the Canadian version...it crashed and burned it seems...and for good reason).

I know too much...I'm educated in the business, so when I  hear prices of multi-hundreds being tossed around for an item I KNOW barely garners high double digits....well, I just shake my head.

There has been lots of trash to cash TV shows, and I am sure there are going to be many more. Any cheap & relatively easy to make (IE: reality TV) that feature "ordinary" people making money from other people's "junk" gives "fans/viewers" some "hope", especially when they are short on money (IE: the people who are recently unemployed, downsized, etc...all those things that happen during a recession) it all equals more money in the medias' pockets.

If  "Trash to Cash" happens to sound familiar, that was also the title of a series back in 2003...and has turned into a general term used regularly by a variety of bloggers, articles, etc, as a description of the genre of reality shows I fondly refer to as "Junk TV".

I gotta be different!

Seems like many of the shows are spun off of "American Pickers"...have to wonder if Mike Wolfe is getting royalties! Kudos to him if he is! You may have noticed that the success of AP has caused spin-offs & copies, unsurprisingly. Sadly, the word "Picker" is in those titles for the sole misguided purpose of luring the AP viewership into watching. is one...Once I saw "Picker Sisters", I quickly decided that was not the name I would have choose. Some would even consider "Canadian Pickers" misnamed...the comment I hear is usually something like "Candian Antiquers" would far more accurate."    True, they do go to mainly antiques shops, antiques shows, collectors' collections, and occasionally "other" pickers' offerings. I can not see Scott nor Sheldon ever picking through the muddy basements, dust, dirt & pigeon crap filled attics, and the hay filled, mouse infested, sparrow poop spattered barn lofts that I commonly sift through.  Mis-casting is more the culprit in that case. The production company tried to replicate AP in Canada, but sadly, it is not what most Canadian "American Picker" viewers expected.

I really am not sure why the Canadian versions/spin-offs of US shows always seem to end up leaning towards "corn" factor.  Maybe the self-deprecating Canadian attitude is embedded in the producer's psyches.

The thing is, from everyone I have talked to on the subject, it is obvious that there IS a substantial audience out there that is getting quickly tired of the not-all-that-real Reality TV version of the "junk lifestyle."

When you live the lifestyle, seeing through the TV version is as easy as looking through a clean window.

Frankly, I give kudos to Mike, Frank and Danielle of AP. They are making more $ off the antiques biz than they ever would have in the traditional way.   Sure, I wish it was me making that big $ and getting recognition for the 20+ year long rocky road this business has dragged me over.

But, it is not. So, life goes on, per usual.

I was hoping the shows would garner more interest in antiques & collectibles than it has.

Wait, let me clarify that....

I was hoping the shows would garner more interest in the COLLECTING of antiques & collectibles than it has....

Every show out there right now seems go for the "look at the deal I got" and/or the "I will make lots of money on this" aspect that drive them.

People watch them as if they are "how to" videos .Oiy....they are so far from that...

I know what I am buying and I know what I am doing, so it has no real affect on me.
I might actually save some money by being outbid at auction on some piece of old junk that I really do not need.

If there were far more shows getting people interested in COLLECTING, driving people to COLLECT, and make the collecting end of things more appealing, giving the multitudes of reasons why people should collect this or that, making collecting something that you should do, highlight its importance to history conservation, etc, etc, then that may well create the upward spike in the junk MARKET.

More competition is something that I am sure most don't want. "Cost of goods" increases, which is being seen in the Storage Auction business, as Glendon Cameron of www.urbanpackrat.com has mentioned a fair bit in his video and blog entries. Same thing in the antiques biz, but we have a little different situation here.

Collecting old crap is not like needing a couch for the living room.

  Yes, competition drives up prices, which is fine, but if there is no end consumer that is willing to buy the goods the "dealers" fought over, is that item actually worth what is being paid?

Not likely.

There is a bit of a false market being created in this business by these shows, as there is starting to be a glut of "dealers" (or rather, wanna-be dealers/pickers) being created. More dealers than end buyers can hurt the market.

When you examine the way the market is at present, it starts to sounds a little like the fiasco the Banks pulled.

No worries, it will self correct itself, eventually.

The veterans of the business will be just fine. We know how to make it all work for us.
I do believe that a VERY small percentage of the "newbies" that have gotten into this business will survive, but the vast majority will end up with storage lockers full of crap...and many will end up loosing said lockers...allowing Storage Wars and Auction Hunters to go on forever!

SO, you better study up by reading and re-reading my blog, AND at Mr Cameron's site www.urbanpackrat.com in preparation to tackle the impending influx of abandoned storage lockers!


Now, if you are a dealer, note that before you get upset, keep reading! 

I always have to shake my head when I see ads for estate sales, garage sales, etc that read "NO DEALERS".

I think: What, are you INSANE? You WANT dealers there! THEY are the REAL buyers!

If you want a successful sale, and have loads of merchandise leaving, and piles of cash in your pocket, your ad should start with:


Well, ok, maybe not quite that whole phrase, but you get my drift....maybe leave out Coffee.

Thing is, I am a picker, dealer, wholesaler, collector, researcher, history buff, treasure hunter, artist, craftsman, restorer.....and these terms are only part of a long list.

I go on house calls, I have a shop, I go to auctions, I go on cold calls when I am picking, I attend estate sales, garage sales, flea markets, etc, etc...I will even "trash pick" if I spot something I can make a buck on. So add trash-picker/bin-diver/scrapper to the list...

oh, "writer" is another...

whoops, "blogger" better make its way on the list, also....
When people try to pigeon hole you into a "category" it tends to never quite fit. I love picking, it is what I started doing to finance my love of treasure hunting, and have never stopped...But, along the way I opened a shop, because the dealers I wholesaled to never bought it "all"..and, frankly, there was things they didn't want that I KNEW there was a market for.

When eBay came along, it provided me with solid proof that I did know what I was doing. Many dealers I sold to had a narrow view of the collecting world....their attitudes were like "You can't tell me that computer, those snowmobile suits and that cereal box are all collectible! Not a chance! You're crazy to buy that junk."

Turned out there were collectors out there paying good money for pretty much ALL the various things that other dealers had said were not of any value. Many of those same dealers then started to watch very carefully what I was buying....much to my chagrin.

I suppose I could just consider it a compliment...

The market has changed dramatically in the last 15 years, however. There are so many things that I do not buy anymore, or, when I do buy those items, they need to be dirt cheap, as the values have dropped dramatically. Other things I can pay more for than I have in the past.

Collecting habits change with various things....from the age of the collector, to events (like 9/11) that cause people to re-evaluate what is important in their lives. Things like recessions cause "collecting" to be the last thing people are spending money on.

The reasons go on and on. They are as varied as categories of collecting, though there are a few reasons that form the bulk of why people change (or eliminate) their collecting habits.

Reality TV has latched on to the "junk biz" as a vehicle to make some money.  But I have to wonder if that is really helping the business, in the current form the programs are taking?

Your time with Zoltar has ended.........insert 10 cents in the slot and all will be revealed. PayPal accepted!


I know, the title is confusing. Will come clear as to what it is about, momentarily.

I read a blog posting on an 'antique magazine' website awhile back.  After a few minutes of searching online, I did happen to find the article, and I did notice that it dates from back in 2003....I know I ready it only a few months ago, but the content really has not changed in relevance.

I do agree with some of what he has to say, and I disagree with a few other minor things, mainly his definitions.

The author was describing the "definition" of a picker, wholesaler and dealer.

He apparently has been in the business a long time....but, I was surprised to read how narrow his definitions of those titles were. According to his comments, a "picker" apparently are supposed to specialize in a certain area.

Hmmm...I don't know ANY picker who specializes in one area....not going to make much money that way...not in most provinces in Canada, anyway.  He terms those who buy a variety of things as being "wholesalers"

  Yes, I wholesale items, but that does not make me any less of a picker. I retail items also, so that means I am a dealer?  So, by his definitions I am a dealer-picker-wholesaler



Or a WPD?

Sure, I love old advertising and related items, and am pretty knowledgeable in that area, but if I am picking an old store, and I see depression glass there I won't just leave it behind.

Or if I see some folk art item in the back room, I won't pass it by.

And see that  mid-century modern teak table lamp over there, over in the former "Housewares" section?

 I'll buy that, too.

All those vintage electrical components? Put them in my pile.

Oh, and those 1950s cowboy shirts? And the box of NOS seamed nylon stockings?

Yep, I want those, too.

Those 1970s vinyl squeaky Barbapapa toys? Put them beside the lamp, please.

That 1979 IBM  computer the store's owner's accountant brother gave her after he upgraded? DEFINITELY want that, too.

Now just need to figure out how to load it all...

So, MY definition of a picker is someone who IS a "generalist", not a "specialist."

Sure, many of us have our specialties, but we don't focus on a narrow area. I'd have gone broke long ago if I had done that.  It would be FANTASTIC to be able to "pick" one specialty, or collectible category, but it is simply not realistic...especially if you want to make a real living. If you were only picking in that category, suppose you could be called "specialty picker", that I could agree with.

Normally, from my experience over the last 20+ years, those who do specialize in that sort of thing are called "Specialty DEALERS"...not "pickers".

Anything to make a buck, remember? Frankly, roughly 80% of the trade in the antiques business is dealer to dealer, anyway. AND I mean "dealer" as a general catch-all term....as in picker/wholesaler/dealer/specialty-dealer/specialty-picker/etc/etc/etc.... ANYONE who is in the junk biz.

We all have our own knowledge, markets, talents, etc that allow us to make money on the items we buy.

I don't mind wholesaling something, especially when I know I can't move it quickly for "retail"...whatever that really means....my retail could be another dealer's "wholesale"...and yet another dealer's "double retail!"

I have many items that I've priced at a wholesale level, simply because I want to sell them, not hang on to them for years.. There are many items that I know will not end up selling to the end "collector."

See that gadget over there?  No, not the bobbing head doll...beside it...Yeah, the wachamacallit.

It will be a dealer who will buy it. They will up the price and sell it to some customer they have.

Am I upset? Not a chance. Suits me fine...I have sold it, that is the important part.