Auction Post Mortem for Thursday 4/11/2024 - Flops, Floats, and Flights

Auction Post Mortem for Thursday 4/11/2024 - Flops, Floats, and Flights

When I was dropping off my packages at the post office on Monday, I overheard a conversation one of the postal workers was having with a customer. They were talking about how the post office is having trouble attracting talented candidates to work there because the pay offered by the government doesn't compete with the competitive wages offered by the local gas station. When I heard what they were making, I slipped into a little fantasy about quitting the antique business and getting an honest wage paying job. I've had these fantasies before, and think it would be very Springtseen-esque of me to get a job at the big factory in town or the gas station. These are important and honest jobs, but jobs you can mostly leave behind when you clock out. As an antique dealer with a weekly auction, I am always chasing the next item, I'm always plugged into my phone checking out whats going on Instagram, AuctionZip, and Facebook, and I'm always under a moderate level of stress wondering if I'll make enough money each week to keep the ball rolling. Not to mention the dozens of hours and hundreds of miles behind the wheel chasing down stuff. At the end of the day, I like what I do enough that the allure of scanning Redbulls for eight hours a day and then heading home to enjoy my free time isn't quite enough to pull me away from it. Its even easier to keep at what I am doing when I have really successful auctions. The thing is, and why I tell this story tonight, is that this week's auction was such a (sorry this is a little dramatic) disaster, that I would have made more money if I had gotten that gas station job, without having to endure any of the stress.

Okay, okay it wasn't all bad! And none of this is to say that I am not supremely grateful for everyone who came to tonight's show, who bid their hard earned money, and who put up with my sour attitude all evening. In the end, I love getting cool stuff into the hands of cool people, and even if most things tonight that should have really taken off fell short of what they should have brought, I am still grateful for the opportunity to achieve that end. This is still the most fun job in the world, and one that offers me amazing flexibility to live my life the way I want to, even if it takes a lot of effort, time, and money to make happen.

All this is to say, tonight was a bummer, but we'll be back at it next week, with a whole new slate of stuff. I hope you'll be there.

Here are some flops, flops, and flops. I'm kidding! Quite a few things did great.

A note about the items below that say "Purchased" - all of the items in tonight's auction that I owned outright came from a private picking trip to a fellow dealer here in New Hampshire. I put together a pile of stuff, and after a bit of a back and fourth, and pulling some things out of the pile, I ended up paying $1000 for the lot. I was quoted individual prices for the items, but I kind of ignored those so I could approach the buy holistically. That is to say, some of the quoted prices were way high for the item, and some were way low, so I trusted that it would all balance out and looked at the purchase as a lot. I hope that makes sense. These items will just say "Purchased" without a specific price. Most of these items are going to have the flop designation, and that has a lot do with a fact that almost all of them brought less than the price I was quoted (which is technically the price I paid). The fact that I didn't lose money on this group purchase is thanks almost entirely to the couple of "flights" listed below.

Anyways that's enough whining and blabbering! On with it! See you all next week!

Flop: Mourning Hair Art With Poem; Consigned, Sold $170

mourning hair art with poem

I am really shocked that this didn't bring more money. A couple weeks ago I had a very nice, but very simple and naive, cabinet card with a little bit of hair art that brought $190. In that same auction, I had a more intricate hair art bubble frame that brought nearly $500. I thought for sure that the size and quality of this one, plus the fact that it is actually mourning related (many dealers call all hair art "mourning hair," which is a misnomer - much of it is not mourning related), would shoot it into the stratosphere. I wish I was allowed to bid in my own auction, because I would totally have bought this for more than $170. This was a steal, and a big disappointment. But I know the person who got it is a big collector of this stuff, and I have had the privilege of selling her many piece of hair work. I am happy to add to the collection.

Flop: 1848 Our Mother's Grave Mourning Lithograph; Purchased, Sold $100

the mother's grave antique mourning lithograph

These things are so hit and miss. One week, one will sell for nearly $300, the next I'm selling one - like the one from tonight - for just $100. I am not sure why this didn't catch on, and its always disappointing when I know I could have gotten more for something on eBay than in my own auction. If I had seen this at a flea market, I would have paid more than what I sold it for here. I guess you just never know whats going to catch on.

Flop: Antique Odd Fellows Lithograph; Purchased, Sold $25

odd fellows antique lithograph hand colored

This one is kind of my own fault. I tend to not start any of my items over $25, but on a night like tonight when things are tanking, I feel a little more compelled to protect myself with higher starting bids. So I tried starting this lithograph at what I think was a very fair $50, but didn't get any bids. When I dropped the bid to $25, no bids came in for quite a while, until I was just about to pass it (I like this enough to hang it on my own wall, I'd rather do that than sell it for peanuts), when a $25 bid came in. I did the bid call for a bit, and was really surprised, and disappointed, that no other bids were coming in. Exacerbated, I did a super, super quick countdown without much warning, and entered the sold chat comment. Immediately after, two competing bids popped up. I definitely let my frustration get in the way of me, and my bidders, on this one. My apologies to those who missed out - I am bummed too.

Flop: Antique Oil on Canvas Painting of a Dog; Purchased, Sold $80

oil on canvas painting of brown dog

I would have liked to see this painting bring at least $100. Well done, great subject matter, nice colors, good age. In the end, hey, $80 isn't a disaster, and I am really excited about who got it, but its hard to let go of something I like this much for that little. I might have preferred to just hang it on my wall and enjoy it for a little before selling it.

Flight: Anthropomorphic Map of Europe; Purchased, Sold $205

map of spain in the shape of a woman with a crown and septer

This was a total sleeper. I thought it was cool and interesting, which is why I bought it, but didn't think much of it beyond that. I didn't do any research, and didn't even know what language it was in. I think this is one of those cases - which aren't rare - where the bidders know more about an item than I do. The $205 result of this map definitely helped to pick up some of the slack from the items that tanked.

Flight: Round the Year with the Stars 1910 Astronomy Book; Purchased, Sold $195

Another - somewhat - unexpected sleeper. I say somewhat because a few months back I had a really cool astronomy book sell for over $500, so I know the subject is popular with my crowd. That said, I have also sold astronomy books for much less. This one seemed to be a hit, and brought an impressive $195.

Flop: Father Casket Plaque; Consigned, Sold $25

Flop: Tell Mother I Die Happy, Civil War Era Mourning Print; Consigned, Sold $20

civil war era mourning print and poem tell mother i die happy

Flop: Rubber Anatomical Baby Model; Consigned, Sold $25

Float: 1864 Lizzie Casket Plaque; Purchased, Sold $80

Flight: Harrison Fisher Illustrated Book; Purchased, Sold $65

Flop: Empty "Our Friends" Photo Album; Purchased, Sold $25

Flop: Folk Art Skeleton in Casket; Purchased, Sold $50

Flop: Loaded Victorian Cabinet Card Photo Album; Purchased, Sold $70

victorian cabinet card photo album

Flop: Civil War Report of the Sick and Wounded; Purchased, Sold $20

Flop: The Strange Case of Herr Hitler, 1933 Anti-Hitler Pamphlet; Purchased, Sold $30

Flop: Bliss Felt Pennant; Purchased, Sold $17

bliss enginerring felt pennant

Float: Ziriya Talking Board; Purchased, Sold $60

Flop: Damaged Skull Humidor Lid; Purchased, Sold $22

Flop: Funeral Flowers Boarded Photograph; Purchased, Sold $26

funeral flowers antique photograph

Flop: Witchcraft Booklet; Purchased, Sold $5


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