Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Driving Down the Highway Of Pickers - Part Three

So, now that you are not longer "under pressure" after the restroom stop, we can proceed....

Sorry that I had to pile your luggage in front of your seat there... I had to move it out of the back to make room for the sign and gas pumps I bought...

....and no that smell wasn't me.... I did not fart, OK....?!

Just roll down your window.....PHEW...yeah, it stinks... damn, I thought I got all of it out...

I guess there is still enough residue....from rotting piles of flies I scraped out of the gas pump globe the guy sold matter how bad it stunk I wasn't going to just leave it there...

Whew...well, it is airing out a, I better get back to what I was talking about... fill you in on some more info that I dug up....

Oddly enough, if you had been on Mike's shop website when it was first launched, and had seen the page from which he was selling merchandise such as work gloves, flash-lights, ball caps, and eventually T-shirts and other stuff, amongst it all the site offered a notebook, and like the other items, it was also branded with Mike's "Antique Archaeology" shop logo, I believe. 

It also curiously also had "Picker's Journal" emblazoned across it.

This notebook was only offered on  Mike's website for a short period of time, so I assume it wasn't a big seller....

Or, perhaps, just perhaps, someone in the History Channel network's legal department, Mike's own lawyer/legal team, or maybe even a friend/fellow picker suggested it wasn't a good idea to use that "title", being that I had been using the phrase for some time prior to his application of it. 

Maybe it was eliminated simply so there would be no confusion that I was somehow connected to the program.

(If anyone out there has one of those notebooks, I'd like to get one, or even photos of one, just for posterity's sake.  Drop me a line, via FB, email, this blog, etc, and we will work out a trade, cash price, whatever.)

Oddly enough, Mike (or possibly Mike's employee(s), one, the other or both) was/were not the only one(s) to "jump on the bandwagon"...

Krause Publications (who is the current owner of "Antique Trader") joined the fray, too...

Check this out:

I see there is a notation that says (quote):

"The cover of this journal has been updated from that which was featured in promotions for this item."

I wonder if Krause was the original makers/marketers of Mike's version?

 Or,  the "original" version of the cover made their legal department squirm a little for some reason?  Anyone have one they can send me a photo of? 

This is what it looks like now... 

You will note that despite what it is being advertised as, it does  not actually say "Picker's Journal" on it.  I suspect that they changed the title/wording on the cover....

I'm mainly curious as to what they changed....but, when it comes down to it, do I really care that much? 


Now, if I am legally entitled to financial recompense or other compensation for (various) companies'/entities' usage of the phrase "Picker's Journal", and some talented, highly skilled legal team/lawyer wants to take the case on a contingency basis, I might just consider it. 

Drama of that sort is not worth small dollar amounts, really. Even large dollar amounts can not be enough compensation for the stress and hassles such actions can create. 

I am curious as to what you, as an uninvolved party, a random  reader, Joe or Josie person on the street, who is looking from outside of the situation thinks. 

Send me your thoughts, leave a comment, reaction to the facts I laid out, etc.   Also, maybe let me know if you are in the antiques business or not, a collector, or how you otherwise "relate" to the issue. 

 I will and do publish all comments, thoughts, etc, "for" or "against" my postings, as long as they are not slanderous, full of foul language, etc. Just keep it clean, intelligible, etc and your thoughts will be recognized. 

 If you do not wish to have your post published, let me me know, and it will remain private & unpublished.

Until next time...

Pick safe!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Driving Down The Highway of Pickers - Part Two

With all the winter holiday's season's events,  life's trials, tribulations and surprises, I almost forgot something....

 I still had  "Part 2" of "Driving Down The Highway Of Pickers" to do...

SO, here it is, just in time for Christmas...or whichever other season, holiday, festival (etc) you happen to celebrate!

For those of you who are long time readers of my wordy tome,  you likely know that  I started this blog some time ago.

 I called/titled it "A Picker's Journal" right from the very beginning

Yup, came up wit dat classy, fantabulous, awesome, superb sort of  title all by me lonesome!  

It is my own creation; "an-original-painting-in-3-words" so-to-speak.

It was born in my cerebral grey matter back on the third of May, in the year of two-thousand-ten. 

This baby's first words were a posting called:

(*Click on that phrase to bring up  my very first blog posting written for  "A Picker's Journal.")

I was one the handful of people who were "regulars" on  History Channel's chat-boards; and the "American Pickers" board in particular. 

I made some like minded online friends who I still keep in contact with today, actually.  

I know what you are wondering, and the answer is no, Mike & Frank were not there,  nor was Danielle..... Or, rather, they did not post, reply or otherwise interact on that board. 

Well, that is, as far as we know/knew. 

I would not be surprised in the least, however, if they did not occasionally check out the boards. 

I do not recall specifically when I posted links to "A Picker's Journal", but I have no doubt I posted links to it, shared posts, etc;  being that my posts tend to all be relevant to picking, the antiques biz, etc, so sharing them with like minded people is part of the goal in the first place. 

As I may have mentioned in past posts here, I did have the same idea as Mike, about 10 years prior to AP hitting the air, long before I had ever heard of him & Frank, and long before most of the general public knew what a "picker" was, other than relating to guitars, fruit, or that ol' groan inducing joke answer we are all tired of, and that is: nose pickers. 



Done laughing

Good, because if you continued, I'd have to smack you upside the head....


Back to business....

Now, I am not so arrogant as to think I was the only picker in the world who had the same idea as Mike, nor do I think I was "the first" to have the idea. 

The concept  is not new...besides, great minds think alike, after all!

 Mike happened to have good timing, was graced with the right set of circumstances which came together, along with a heavy dash of that  good ol' picker tenacity that many of us exhibit, and the usual hard work we are all used to.  It wasn't handed to him on a silver platter.  

Some production company didn't come to him and say "do you want a TV show?"

He pioneered it, really. Others, be they imitators, or legitimately real pickers, while they may or may not have worked hard, Mike spearheaded it, got the whole "buying and selling old/used stuff on a Reality TV show" thing rolling. 

"The Antiques Roadshow" American Pickers is certainly not. 

And that is a good thing.  

We needed something different, something the masses could grasp, enjoy, get absorbed in.

As for Mike's success with it, well, frankly, if you like him or hate him, you can't begrudge the guy for having made his dream happen.  

If you do begrudge him for that, well, that is simply misplaced jealousy, nothing more.

I do realize, as some readers likely do, the format in which the show went on to success with is actually not what Mike originally wanted it to be and had proposed.  

However, that is exactly what can, and usually does happen when other minds (ie: production companies, producers, directors, and other media types) get involved in someone else's dream.......

The dream will morph, change, and become something not-quite-like what the initial creator envisioned.

However, that is a discussion best left for another post.

There are lots of people who begrudge Mike or Frank or even Danielle, but it is usually just jealousy masquerading as something else. 

I am not jealous, as I am aware that becoming a "celebrity" can create as many issues as it solves.  

Would I like to be raking in the cash like he is? 


But jealous of his success?


I am glad to not have some of the issues I am sure he has to deal with now. 

I am, however, annoyed with some issues the show(s) have created, and on the other end of things, I am overjoyed with other things the show has done as to the marketplace. 

 If you mistake "annoyed" for jealousy, well, that is not my problem.

However, I do have to say that my "annoyed" levels have gone up bit by bit over the last few years....

Oddly enough, maybe 3 years ago, I tripped across some other interesting information, which, frankly had me scratching my head a bit...

It was one of those things that make you go:


The page at this link describes it.

And, in case that link ends up "dead" for one reason or another, here is a page shot of it's contents. Being that it is in pretty small text, I have included the portion of importance enlarged, below it. 

Here an enlarged portion containing the highlighted text: 

* * * * 

"Picker's Journal" is now Mike Wolfe's e-journal, as of 2011, huh? 

Yes, that is right....say it with me now...


Well, they do say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

It would have been nice to receive some form of recognition for the "borrowing" of what some would consider my original work....   

Maybe a guest blogger spot? 

A 10 minute "we bought this cool thing from our Canadian contact, EH!" sort of cameo on a episode once a season?

Or a even a "shout out" to their "Canadian Connection"?  

 Or, perhaps just a simple a tip of the hat, a mention somewhere...

Perhaps, just perhaps it would have been worth tossing me a bone, or two?

Hell, just a simple, easily written cheque (a.k.a. "check") that had a figure on it with which I could have used to go on a picker vacation?  A pick-ation ? Hmmmmm......

"Hey, just c-h-i-l-l , dude, its only a couple words!"  you say ?

"Why are you so annoyed?" you ask ?

You know, frankly, and to be quite honest,  I wasn't actually that annoyed....for a time...

After all...

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"  


And they did drop the "A"....

And,  I will get some sort of recognition...some time...eventually...


Um, actually...


Never happened, not happening, not a whiff of anything happening, ever....not even an endorsement, a "shout out" to, nor a mention of the source of the concept & title.

 Nary even a vague acknowledgement of any sort as to that. 

Not even an occasional "shout out of respect to that-other-long-time-fellow-picker-dude-up-there-in-Canada,  EH!"




Not even a crumb.

While the length of time the "zero recognition" remains teh status quo,  (and which some could/would/have called "a snub", "a slight" as well as more colourful descriptors), I realize it is not only "just 2 words" that they "borrowed"....

It was the entire CONCEPT that is "A Picker's Journal" which was "borrowed"....lifted.

And, to clear-up any doubt; as well as pre-answers to some questions before they are even asked: 
Thus far, as of this date, being Dec 23rd, 2015, there has been no form of any kind of acknowledgement from that web firm (or anyone else connected with American Pickers, for that matter) regarding their utilizing the title "Picker's Journal" and the general concept, in toto

Being that the article mentioning "Picker's Journal" (in the context of it being used to describe Mike's e-journal), was published in 2011, and states fully that "their" concept was called/dubbed "Picker's Journal," they obviously had planned to use the title as "THE" title of the newsletter.

Now, as far as Mike's personal involvement, I have no idea if he even realizes that the firm has commandeered the title of "Picker's Journal" for use in the project.  

Realistically, I would be surprised that he is not at least aware of it, at least in passing, but anything is possible when there are hundreds of hands involved in projects, especially where media of all types is concerned.  

Mike did post a quick couple sentences of thanks, as part of a thread on his Facebook wall, quite some time ago. 

But it was not connected to that "borrowed" bit of my work. 

That "thanks" post was specifically directed to myself and one other dealer; as we were both on the History Channel chat boards way-back-when, and later were regularly posting on an American Pickers official Facebook group.

That dealer, myself as well as some others, fielded appraisal related questions, and we all basically were volunteer soldiers on the front  line, the "picker defence squad, so to speak. We were dealing with insults, negative commentary/ranters, trolls, and other "not-so-nice" verbal attacks lobbed at Mike, Frank, Danielle, and our field of work, while on History Channel's chat/message boards, as well as fielding some questions (etc) in the related Facebook group for a bit, shortly after History Channel closed the boards and took them down, and creating their promotional page on Facebook.  

He basically gave us a kudos for having "been there since the beginning." 

I do respect that sentiment, appreciate it....

But, just how much should I "appreciate" that one-time, couple line "thanks guys" sentiment? 

How long should that "hold" me for....and what does it "cover?"

Realistically, not a whole hell of much of anything. I appreciated it at the moment, but, really, when I think (briefly) about the event, it was a minimal sort of effort, I have to admit. 

No, we didn't even get a "thank-you" sort of package of American Pickers "swag"...not a a stitch of any of History Channel, Antique Archaeology, Or other logo'd merchandise, autographed photos,  or any other promotional "swag".....

Not even a used, chipped & cracked History Channel coffee mug fished out of the dumpster....

Not that I actually really have any desire to own any of their promotional junk/stuff, nor T-shirts, hats, or other merchandise at this point....though, come to think of it, a box of gloves I really could use.....being that I destroy gloves constantly...well, actually, usually I destroy right handed ones 5 times as often as left handed ones....

Anyone out there want a pile of authentic-real-life-genuine-Canuck-prairie-picker-used left-handed gloves?  

Just cover postage costs and they can be YOURS!

See, even I offer my supporters g r e a t swag!

OK, OK, yes, yes, I admit it.....
I just don't want to throw 'em all out....

You know, having thought more about it now, many of us spent a fair bit of time just defending Mike and Frank (and later Danielle, on occasion), as well as the occupation of "picking" (and the antiques biz in general) from the onslaught of trash talk spat out by the ignorant, the unaware, the uneducated,  the mis-informed and assorted troublemaker/troll-types.  

It goes with the territory, I guess. Put aside whatever the ethical issues you wish to debate, how some shows seem to portray us, assumptions that are made, problems you believe the shows have caused, what you think of any of the individuals on the shows, and all the rest, because.......

The fact is, many of us were a combination of overjoyed & relieved that there was finally a mainstream sort of show was telling the world that we didn't just buy old junk for fun, that it can be and is a real business, and what we do does require skill, time, energy, knowledge, hard work, profits, etc, etc, etc.  

( And that the show wasn't just an American take on BBC's "Lovejoy" )

Many a picker will tell you that showing "picking" as being truly an occupation, "legitimized" them in the eyes of some/all of their family members, non-dusty-junk-loving friends and the TV watching public in general.  

I know I now rarely have to explain what I do to people when I knock on their farmhouse door to inquire about stuff I spotted from the road. I do, however, occasionally have to distance myself from "those TV pickers" depending on the people's reactions to my inquiry. 

Overall, though, the experiences have been more positive now than negative, which is a good thing.

In my experienced opinion, overall the shows have been good for the antiques business as a whole. 

Yes, there are still a few issues happening, people adapting, etc...but that is what life tends to be like when it comes to anything changing, growing, adapting...we are just driving down the highway of pickers' lives....

We'll pull into this gas station here so you can "use the facilities"...

And I want to try and buy that sign I spotted leaning up against the back of the building...the one I spotted as we rounded the curve....

After all our assorted "business" is done, we will get back on the road, and you can tune the radio to Part Three.....

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

To Some, An Alien Concept, Logic Is.

Before someone jumps down my throat about mixing up two polar opposite fandoms, I KNOW I mixed up/intertwined my pop culture references.... 

But, just look at me as a neutral a " Switzerland" of your war of fandoms, ok?

(Yep, those Trekkies/Trekkers and Star Wars aficionados get pretty touchy over such things)

We'll let Yoda and Spock go into the sound proof booth and battle it out....maybe a cage match or something. Someone tell them to just dress casual...really don't want to ever see either one in wrestling tights....I have never wanted to know what Yoda's junk, NOR Spock's junk looked like, especially when outlined in neon green Spandex. 

 NO, I am NOT at all curious. I am not a die hard Star Wars fan, nor a Trekkie or Trekker.   It seems like it would be a mind scarring thing....ewwww...I  would need a Jedi mind trick to convince me I had never seen it/that/them (or whatever the term I need to use...), just to maintain a sense of sanity.

Besides, I know full well there will be people recording it all on their iPhones...and, I assure you, NO ONE wants to see either guy's "stuff" on YouTube...

 Well, except maybe some subcultures of both of those fandoms.......

And, frankly, I really don't want to delve into that any further...I would like to keep my head from imploding, thank-you-very-much. 

It could be universe destroying....really.

So, now that those two are out of the room, as well as their athletic supporters....

OK, OK, the groans were a little loud with that one.  I agree,  my little pop culture mash with "professional wrestling" type references does tend to stink....

So, let's get back to LOGIC.

The reason "LOGIC" has come up in my mind is that it links in with "common sense".

That in itself seems to be a rare commodity. If I could find a warehouse of it, I am sure I could sell it all for a pretty penny...

But, then again, maybe it would be the worst purchase of my life....being that so many people seem to not realize that they even lack common sense in the first place.

Do you need common sense in order to realize you have none?

Sort of a catch 22, I suppose.

Anyway, the issue arose in a couple Facebook groups I am in, both being linked together, one being a museum site, and the other being a Marketplace the group's Admin created for members to sell memorabilia that is of interest to those who are into the sort of thing that museum displays.

I normally use my shop sign as my personal icon on Facebook, so that people "connect" me with my store. I keeps them from scrambling to figure out who I am when I happen to message them from my main account instead of from my store page, and, if you know Facebook (as it is configured at the time of this blog posting), you can't contact people via your store page unless they contact you first.

I assume that measure is Facebook's way of preventing people creating pages and then spamming everyone and their dog....

Oh, and so that no one accused me of being exclusionary, I should also add:  "their cat, hamster, goldfish, python, and assorted other critters, alive dead, faux and imaginary."

Hopefully that covers it.

Wait, I forgot "of the ether."

Political correctness has run amok, eh?

So, back to LOGIC.

(I am sure if Spock was standing beside me he would 
have slapped me by now, with my digressions....and left an off-kilter "W" shaped imprint on the side of my head.)

Logic. I assume people use it, and you would think it is a synonym for "common sense,"

Is it, I wonder...?

**** disappearing into the ether of the internet for a few moments  ****

Ok, so synonyms or "logic" include the following: science of reasoning, philosophy, rational, sanity, sense, argumentation, coherence, connection, deduction, dialectic, induction, inference, linkage, ratiocination, relationship, syllogism, thesis, antithesis, synthesis, course of thought, good sense, sound judgement, syllogistics, train of thought.

*Taking A Breath*

So, that pretty much covers "common sense", too, does it not? "Science of reasoning" seems to hit the head of the common sense nail.

If someone posts/offers something for sale in a public forum that exists for exactly that purpose, would you question why they are selling it...

....then immediately  proceed to tell them how it would be better to donate the material to a museum so "the public can enjoy it"....?


....if you are an artist, musician, writer, or otherwise artistically talented/trained and thus self-employed...heck, if you are self-employed at all, where your skill is an integral part of the way you make money in your business, would you not think about how you would feel being told something similar in the context of your field? 

For example, how would you feel as a musician if you were told that you should play your music for free all the time "for the public to enjoy...."  

Or, as a writer, how you should write an article for a magazine, website, etc "for exposure"....essentially for free, "for the public to enjoy"...and the entity to make money off of your work, while you make nada....

Anyways,  you get the idea.

That very question was posed to me by a "established author"...and I was taken aback. 

An artist of any sort are the types that are the last sort of individual who I thought would ever pose that question to me, as a dealer/picker whose talent is finding those very items, researching those items, recognizing that the items are of significance to someone. 

 Members of the general public who have not encountered such uneducated (and sometimes downright ignorant) attitudes on a monthly, sometimes weekly basis I would understand, and deal with....

BUT, when you really should know better?

Use some common sense....walk a mile in the person's shoes before you pose the question....put yourself in their place, injecting a context that you are familiar with... 

And, if you are caught posing the question and realize your blunder too late to "delete" it....

 or make some sort of other recompense ...

don't act like the person you essentially insulted (inadvertently or not) is the one in the wrong. 

All that does is dig yourself into an even deeper hole.

In this case, that author is not going to be offered, nor access to, nor copies of, any artifacts they would be very interested in.

What this individual does not realize is that many of my peers, associates, clients (etc) will hear the story.

Many have even seen the thread in question..... 

And, they all encounter, have dealt with, and still deal with the same sort of ignorant attitude. 

Looks like there may be one name and number scratched off many dealers' & pickers' customer lists, judging from the lengthy discussion thread that resulted in one antiques/collectibles group's  thread. 

Plus, there will be even more copies of his books glutting the market and sitting on thrift shop shelves, donation bins, recycling bins, garage sale "free" boxes, boxes of books at auctions,  etc, etc,  once we all get weeding  out our reference libraries for obsolete, duplicate, and "suspect" sources of information.

....not that it will affect his "new" book sales. 

What dealer or picker pays retail prices for such things when they  don't/won't eventually have at least an equal resale value?

Pick safe!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Spock Needs to Teach A Class On Logic


A word whose definition people seem to be unable (or unwilling) to apply. 

It is a concept that seems to escape people, especially those from outside the antiques business, when they are making comments to your face, on social media, etc.

They would save themselves putting both feet in their mouths if they just applied the logic they wish to spout to themselves...then think how they would react.

I see you are confused.....

Not that unusual for readers of my blog, as regular readers know.  You regulars also are aware that  it usually gets somewhat clear further on, there is a point (or two, 3,...or 10) that I will make...eventually, hang in there!

You likely know by now that the antiques and collectibles business is not only woven through my life, it is my sole living, my only income.... 

Or, rather, I should say, "the junk biz" is my sole living, being that I have delved into some other aspects of reclamation, recycling, etc in order to make ends meet since my move, 2.5 hours away from Winnipeg, thus having less "audience" to which I can show off my "talents."

My regular readers will know that by "talents" I am not referring to anything lascivious....or, at least they are crossing their fingers and  hoping that won't be the case!

Of course (and lucky for my regular readers!) I am referring to my abilities to research,  find, locate and obtain a variety of objects, which may of some (or lots of) interest to a variety of different people, literally spanning the world. 

My love of history, of course, is well covered in my blog; especially the rescue of history, my disdain for the destruction of historical items, interests in the preservation of historic architecture, the discovery of the facts that make up history, being correct about what really happened in history,etc, etc,etc.

Yes, history is pretty much my life.

However, I do not live in the past. 

I do believe that if we do not learn from history, we will continue to make the same mistakes. 

 Humankind's existence is disturbingly littered with examples.  Sadly, another bit of humankind manufactured historical detritus of that sort is being created right now.  It is playing out  in the current political climate; involving ISIS. The total number of people that hold the view that ISIS represents Muslims as a whole is disturbingly high.  They tend to scatter into one or more of a variety of categories; including, but not limited to the following: the uneducated, bigots, racists, the politically motivated,  hate mongers, the war profiteers, some of the mentally unhinged,  etc.    

ISIS has been doing what so many terrorist groups, politicians, kings, and all sorts of people/groups have been doing through the ages. They are using a religion as a a source of the holographic (and by that I mean FAKE, and technically transparent, without substance, etc) platform to support their cause. 

Their "platform" is a sham...a hologram, an illusion; pure and simple. Despite that, people believe the hologram to be reality, that it actually exists.

ISIS is twisting, manipulating, misquoting, and bastardizing the Muslim faith in order to create a  platform to make it appear their beliefs are supported by the Muslim faith, that being a Muslim is core to their cause. 

However, the vast, overwhelming majority of Muslims are horrified that their faith, which preaches peace, is being used in this manner, being twisted beyond recognition in the eyes of those who know the faith well, and their very own lives put in jeopardy by those tricksters, killers and psychopaths, who have managed to all too easily create  fear and hate in the hearts & minds of so many non-Muslims. 

Now, take a quick look at various groups in the far and near past....history.

 The KKK claims to hold Christian values as a core of their beliefs....

As claims the Westboro Baptist Church.......

And did you know Timothy McVeigh claimed to be a Christian? 

And a he is also a US citizen?

And is 100% a domestic terrorist

And holds the current modern record for killing more innocent people right on American soil than any "ISIS" linked individual thus far?

Judging by the support of bad actors like Donald Trump and others on social media, the news (etc)  a huge part of the world's population has not learned one iota from our long scarred journey we humans have made through history.  

But, politics and religion is not at all what I was planning to discuss in this posting.

Yes, I just went off on one of my tangents I am known for. 

However, to keep things "short" (yes, sometimes it seems I am unaware of what the definition of "short" is...) I am going to cut it off here...and do a part two...

That is, after all, only logical.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Driving Down The Highway Of Pickers - Part 1

Mike Wolfe now has a blog of stories about picking.

He (or his staff) has called it "Two Lanes Blog."

I guess "A Pickers Journal" was taken...!  (More on that in a later post....)

Just click on that title to open a page to it, if you are so inclined.

And, no, I do not get any payments per click, referrals, mentions, or any other sort of compensation.

Thinking back, oddly enough, there were several of "us" (as  in pickers, dealers, etc) that "supported" Mike and the show when it first hit the airwaves. We certainly are not even half of why the show has done so well, but I'd like to think our enthusiasm, verbal support for, and word of mouth advertising for the show helped him get a firm footing on that creaky and fickle staircase to financial success and recognition.

I think the fact that "our profession" was finally being shown on TV as a legitimate business, and that we would (hopefully) now get some respect and acknowledgement from the general public, as well as the same from family members, most of which, being non "junkers", thought we were just weirdos, hoarders, eccentrics, garbage-pickers, etc.

It did accomplish that, and more.

Some of it was negative, some positive.

There has been growing pains, for sure.

We defended Mike when things appeared nasty.

Take for example, when Mike & Frank paid a "small amount" for a saddle (seems to me it was $75, or $20, something like that.)

Then an appraisal was done...and it was appraised at a 4 figure value!

 The fallout from the general public about that was nuts on the discussion boards of History Channel at the time. Those boards were taken down, and are likely no longer accessible anywhere. The hard drives with the data were  probably long shredded, too.

 "Crooks!", "thieves!", "scammers!" and assorted other not-so-complimentary as well as rather "blue" epitaphs were tossed at Mike & Frank  quite a bit, and had it been possible, some people were to the point of nearly burning them in effigy!

 Of course, being bound by contractual stuff for the show, and perhaps under advisement by legal counsel,  they didn't wade into the fray.

We (by "we" I mean various pickers, dealers, collectors and other experienced people of the antiques business) were the ones who dealt with that little shit-storm, and explained (and RE-explained X100) that all wasn't as it seemed, what the realities of this business are, pointed out the much higher mark-ups of assorted other resale businesses that they seemed to have no problems with, and the fact that it is business after all, so there has to be an appropriate profit margin involved.

We also pointed out that the seller himself quoted them the price  he wanted, which they paid.

One thing none of those "critics" really took into consideration was that, oddly enough, when put on the open market at auction, in this case eBay, it sold for not much more than they paid for it.

So, what about the appraisal of a 4 figure value?

The fact is, the appraisal wasn't at all accurate, for dried out, old saddle.

Basically the "appraiser" was basing his appraisal on what he knew and where his expertise happens to lie....

And that was with new & used working saddles.

 He was not an expert in antique & vintage saddles, nor antique western goods, nor Americana, nor decor items, etc,etc, etc...

SO, he had no background, nor knowledge as to the factors that actually makes some old/antique saddles valuable...and what makes others really just decorator items.

Anyway, back to Mike's blogging.

I am actually quite surprised it took this long for the "powers that be" to get him writing. I thought they would have pushed it right from the get go.

I wonder if he will be doing it himself, or if he is dictating, and has someone doing the typing, editing, etc?

He has the bucks to go that route, and I am sure his time tends to be limited, so he may be doing the blog posts on the fly, or someone else transcribes them from some other source he has, maybe somewhere he jots the stuff down, and someone else tidies it up, fixes grammar, spelling, etc?

He has done quite well for himself, and whatever you think of him, you do have to give him credit, he has worked hard, and is reaping the benefits.

Many of us, of course, also work very hard, maybe even some have worked harder  than Mike has,  and most of us haven't seen the same sort of success he has.

 Some pickers don't want the spotlight shone on them, for an assortment of reasons.

Some of us; yes, myself included, have tried hard to reach that level of success and recognition, but, for whatever assortment of reasons, haven't gotten that same sort of recognition.

"That's life."

"Luck of the draw."

"Just the way the cards are dealt."

Metal Man Mike is one I tripped across some time ago...just click on his name for his videos. I don't have any personal connection to him, but he is one of many characters around. He has one video on what not to do when approached by a production company, based on his personal experience.

Yes, I know I should have as many "picking" videos as he does. I never have gotten (yet) a "GoPro" type camera, and, well, getting bills paid has been more important.

I have a few videos, some badly produced, really shaky,and some, done by friends, are not bad.  One of the issues is the most interesting places I have picked can also be some of the most dangerous places...

So, I have to have both hands free...thus I don't want to be holding and aiming a camera!

Anyway, I guess a spotlight, recognition, Mercedes van, sponsor ships, substantial additional income, etc, is just not in the cards for some of us, or, perhaps, it is just not quite "our time."

I am not sure where my future lies, but wherever it lies, I am sure "old junk" of some sort will feature prominently!

Picking A Relationship - The Facts.

I've neglected the blog these past few month, as "life" has been "happening".

"Bear" with me, I will explain (yes, I do that lots, I know...!)

Being a picker/dealer here in Manitoba is not an easy task...that is, IF you wish to make your living at it.

There are maybe a dozen people in the entire province who make here living on buying and selling antiques & collectibles.  Part of the reason is that out of the  population of 1.272 million people Manitoba holds, is that they are spread out over a substantial area, though most live in the bottom third portion of the province, and half of the entire province's population lives in the capital city of Winnipeg.

I reside 2.5 hour's drive from Winnipeg, currently.

I won't go through the soap opera that has been my life (saving that to fill up several chapters of my autobiography...), but the most recent "big" news is that I have become "single" once again.

This business is hard on relationships, pure and simple. Between differences in personalities, interests, and the fact a picker's life is lived part on the road, part submerged in junk (on the road and at home), among a host of other activities, we basically live and breath our business.

It is a passion, and sometimes it consumes us, or in the least temporarily submerges us once and awhile.

If your spouse/partner is of the same mindset, complimentary personality, you both communicate very well (even if it is with no one else than your partner!) , love history, see gold in all the old stuff, have respect for one another, and all that goes along with the "junk biz", then you might actually have a chance of being together for a long time.

But, people change, and sometimes those changes create rifts, goals shift, passion is diverted, etc.

I have seen many relationships split due to those sorts of changes. Marriages break up when one partner's interests change dramatically away from "old stuff."  Your partner's passion has changed from antiques to horses, and you have zero interest in equines?

Well, prep for a divorce in your future.

I am  not saying that if you partner does not live, breath and eat their dinner without attic dust sprinkled on it that your relationship is doomed.  Having a complementary personality, interests, etc can work, but communication, respect, understanding, and such things are key to keeping it working.

Maybe one spouse loves dealing with the public, selling, being a shopkeeper, while the other is the "digger" of the two who sources merchandise, does some restoration, etc.

 That sort of relationship can work well, too.

I won't go into any major details about my relationship, as my life is not being lived as a public figure; though I know that "public figures" tend to have private lives we never hear about, also, which is the way it should be...despite what we are lead to believe by the "car crash" type Reality TV shows. Also, my ex also deserves privacy.

We are not in a battle, nor at each other's throats, we just came to the realization that we are not meant to be together. We gave it a shot, about 8 years worth, and are intelligent enough to know when to call it quits. I am making it sound easy, but it was not a quick and easy decision.

It was the right decision for both of us, however.

Anyway, my chosen lifestyle was certainly part of the reason we have split,  but it is far from the whole "reason", as life is not so easily cut and dried. Let's consider the word "reason" just a container for what is in actuality a "package of reasons."

She likes old stuff, but not in the same ways I do, nor with the same type of passion I do. To her credit, despite her having pared down her belongings to very little, and pretty much having just become "minimalist" in her living style when we got together, she jumped back into the "junk biz", though only "knee deep", which I felt was adequate, and we started a life together.

These things are always a half and half; that is, as far as any "blame", responsibility or causation for things not working goes. In some cases the "blame" may lean more to one side than another, but it is almost always not 100% one partner's fault.

In our case, I view it as a 50/50 split. I try to take full responsibility for myself. I always learn from each relationship, and I learn more about myself all the time. I deal with what I can fix in myself. I then hope to find someone else who is at the same point in their lives as I am, post experience and repair.

OK, that is enough philosophy, "mushy", and heart tugging  stuff for one year, don't you think?

And now it is time to go....

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Just An Old Picker

I have been picking and dealing in "old stuff" for a long time, and I vividly recall that recently I was the "young gun" in the crowd; the youngest at every function, antiques show (etc) that I went to.

 However, I was awoken to a fact not long ago...

Rudely awoken, you could say.

I am only 44, by the way...well, ok, I admit, I am almost 45.

It came by way of a eyebrow raising moment a couple weeks ago.

I stopped in at a thrift shop while I was in Winnipeg a few weeks ago, and after doing my tour of the place, I had managed to find a few goodies.

I brought my purchases up to the sales counter which I knew totalled $5, and set them in front of the cashier.

The cashier tapped away on the register, and I was told by the smiling 60+ year grey haired lady behind the counter that the total was $4.00.

When I politely pointed out that the total was actually $5.00 the dear old gal behind the counter smiled and said:

 "Its Senior's Day."

 It took me a stunned second to realize that she had given me the "senior's discount."

I guess I need to look at it in a good light. So, I have decided that I have earned every one of my grey hairs, so perhaps getting a senior's discount 20 years sooner than I should is my reward.

Every buck counts, right?

Maybe I need to save those bucks up for some hair dye....

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lost Family Memento or Clue to a Crime?

Several years ago, while operating/setting up a what I will call a salvage, surplus & thrift warehouse store,  I & some of my loyal volunteers cleared out a bunch of stuff from "Sooter Studios" in Winnipeg. The company had basically gone broke, or otherwise dissolved, and in a dramatic way. 

Would have made for perfect Reality TV drama, for certain, as it involved a dramatically changed, then nose diving & ultimately failing business model,  jilted spouse, flight overseas by the other spouse, legal wrangling, etc, etc,etc.

Anyway,  we got a ton of stuff. Some was good, some was bad, and some just sweat inducing from hauling, loading, and carrying it around.

However, seeing as my eye is always open for vintage items, even in cases where most items were too modern to be considered "collectible" and the few "vintage" items being of negligible value,  I still managed to rescue a few items from the dumpsters, seeing as I am, was and still am an  antiques picker/dealer. 

Fast forward to the present day.  I was going through stuff that I had saved; several things in a box, jumbled together, tossed there for "later research", and lots of "I'll deal with that later" sorts of items and I re-discovered a photograph. Well, actually, it is an old photograph and an modern enlargement of the photograph. 

No surprise, being that the place did such work as part of its main income....prior to it being turned into a "dollar store" chain business model.

The photo shows a couple, and likely dates from the late teens into the early/mid 1920s; possibly late 1920s, judging by the Art Deco influence of the design on the cardboard frame, as well as the couple's clothing. As for their age, I am assuming they are in their 20s to early 30s, and that this was their wedding photo. 

Normally, someone else's screw-up in a long gone business is not something I would seek to correct. It is not my problem that the business messed up somebody's order for 100 widgets. 

However, in this case, writing on the large envelope that contained the contents shown indicates that this is some family's photo that has been mislaid, waylaid, and was obviously just filed under one of the categories of "Oh well" and "Stuff Happens" or "Meh."  

No matter where or with whom the blame lays, I believe that this photo does have a home somewhere out there. So, even though I have, in the past,made attempts to locate the family/families of the individuals in the photo, and that I do have the research skills and "way outside the box" thinking to do so, this one just has too few clues to guide me.

The photo was taken in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. However, being that "Sooter Photo Studios" accepted jobs from all over Canada; and likely the US as well,  it could have been mailed from anywhere, by anyone. The photo's frame seems to indicate it was taken by THAMS Studios of Saskatoon, assuming the photo is original to the frame.

Also, on the photo is information/writing that indicates... 

Literally minutes ago, as I was typing the the lines above, I had a "DOH!"-head-slapping-sort-of-moment....

First, before I tell you why I had the "DOH" moment, I should explain something.

I am enamoured with history, and I do find many details of history exciting, despite the treatment the subject receives by all too many school teachers, who manage to make the most exciting past events into the driest and most boring lists of facts and figures you have ever come across. 

It is no wonder with  each passing generation we loose so much documentation of our past. We've been taught that history is boring and all that matters in the future. SO much from learning from history. 

Yes, I know, you can see a tangent coming here....well, I will stop and leave that rant for another day, and get back on track.

Anyway, I have taken interest in "cold cases".

By that I mean unsolved old murder cases, and other unsolved criminal-related mysteries.  

It comes as part and parcel with my quest for knowledge, and the truth behind the stories and fiction grown up around publicized cases, such as that of "Albert Johnson", of "The Mad Trapper of Rat River" fame, a riveting case that had people all over Canada and the USA glued to their radios for days.

So, back to the photo and my DOH! moment.

One case I stumbled across was a woman's remains found at the bottom of an old well on June 29th, 2006.

As it turned out, the deceased passed some time ago. 

Evidence suggested that she was murdered and her body disposed of in the well sometime between 1900 and the late 1920s!

When looking at this Bride, the one in the photograph, as I was typing above, I remembered that case...and the police reconstruction and this gal's image seem (to me) to have a striking resemblance....

It could be simply the style of the period hair, and that is what has my eye seeing the entire face as similar, but who knows. I will have to look at it closely some more later.

However, in thinking about some of my other research on an entirely different case, and one far more publicized, it got me wondering if this, the photo, the "famous" case, and my research on that famous case may all have just come together...a weird case of serendipity, of sorts.

 Perhaps unknown forces have been directing me to put the pieces together!

Seeing as research is based in facts, I won't go beyond that little bit of philosophical, slash hippy-dippy-trippy line of thought.

So, the whole mystery about who "Albert Johnson" really was (they felt "Albert Johnson" may well have been only an alias) was "recently" covered in a documentary titled "The Hunt For The Mad Trapper" by Myth Merchant Films.

Long story short, for those of you who are totally in the dark or not quite up to date on the facts about "The Mad Trapper", this is a highly condensed version of how it has gone:

For years there has been a growing list of individuals that have been thought to have possibly been "The Mad Trapper", AKA Albert Johnson.

Several books have been published by various authors (most notably Dick North) and their theories on one or more of these "possible" identities,  the related research connecting the dots, and the general mysterious, near-superhuman individual that was dubbed The Mad Trapper of Rat River.

There are some candidates that seemed very feasible & solid possibilities, while others were a little more "out there" in their potential to be our mystery man.

However, every last "potential" identity that had any credibility had been eliminated, via DNA testing done in conjunction with the documentary I mentioned. 

So, his identity remains even more of a mystery.

I like mysteries, and as a result, I became more intrigued with the man I tend to refer to as "AJ."

 However, I have been concentrating on a different line of thought, trying to figure out where he came from, the path he travelled, and I have been thinking that method may well lead me to his true identity.

Well, I have been doing lots of research, taking a way-way-outside-the-box approach as I like (tend) to do.

As a result, I may have found a "trail" of sorts...quite possibly "Albert's" trail.

With old and some previously unknown information I stumbled upon, I have been piecing together evidence to back a theory, essentially a map of movements & activities of "The Mad Trapper". 

What theory? 

Well, you will have to wait some time for that...or not. It all depends on what the future holds.

Anyway, before I get off on a long tangent, I will stop myself. (You can thank me later!)

Now, back to the main subject of this post, the photo.

I'd like to think that I can find the family to which this photo formerly belonged to.  So, if you can assist me to get further than I already have, I'd appreciate it, and would certainly give you public credit for your part in possibly reuniting the photo with the family. 

Now, I will only give you public credit if you require or desire public credit. Also, in the same vein, I can maintain your privacy as much as is realistically feasible. 

You see, now that I am nearing the end of this post, my babbling in the many lines above may link together, partially or entirely.

The historical info, interesting stories, and what, for some readers are 3 seemingly unrelated topics, bring to my mind two yet to be answered questions.

Could this be "THE MAD TRAPPER'S" wedding photo?????? 

And is the pictured bride the Jane Doe whose remains were accidentally discovered at the bottom of a long abandoned well in Saskatoon in 2006?????

I gotta go, seeing as I have much more research to do...!