Auction Post Mortem for Thursday 5/23/2024 - Flops, Floats, and Flights

Auction Post Mortem for Thursday 5/23/2024 - Flops, Floats, and Flights

Watch the auction here.

A couple other links before we get started:

Check out the Memory Hole Vintage Youtube Channel for some awesome found 16mm film digital conversions.

I made a reddit account for MHV to share some stuff and participate in discussions about antiques - follow along here.

Okay on with it:

I stayed up til like 5am after last week's auction writing the post-mortem blog post, listening to podcasts, and getting sucked into Instagram Reels and reddit threads, and otherwise generally fucking around on my phone, as I call it. I still managed to peel myself out of bed a few hours later, and Liza and I headed back to Brimfield to see what was up. I didn't find much, but the few items I did grab ended up in this week's show, along with my finds from the Sunday fleas in Southern New Hampshire.

What this week's auction did not include were my finds from the in-person auction I went to on Wednesday... because I never made it there. After dumping $100+ of gas into my van's two massive gas tanks, it decided it didn't want to start back up. A gas station employee with insanely sick tattoos he got in Hawaii in the 70s while he was in the service, and who happened to be celebrating his 78th birthday, pulled his Ford Ranger around to give me a jump... to no avail. So we sat there for two hours waiting for AAA to come tow my hunk of junk the 5-minute drive back to my house, at which point it would have been pointless, and I was way too depressed and pissed to, go to the auction. And that's on that.

A couple other things on my mind as I write this post, mostly because I just want to vent about people being annoying on the Internet:

Thing 1: A dude on one of the local town Facebook groups posted a thread welcoming the yard sale season, and invited people to share yard sales they were having this weekend. I commented and said that even though it isn't this weekend, I host a barn sale the second weekend of every month, and shared a picture and the address. Apparently this guy is a stickler for particulars, because he snapped back something along the lines of, "Incorrect use of this thread, I specifically asked for yard sales happening this weekend, please delete this comment!" A couple people laugh reacted him and jostled him in the comments, which was very satisfying to me. I spent a good 10 minutes trying to figure out how to respond, and ultimately decided that instead of getting myself banned from the group and telling him to fuck off, I'd simply say, "No." Well fast forward a few hours, after the auction I checked the post to see that my comment had been deleted by the mods. I don't really know why this guy telling me to delete my comment, or following it up by having the mods delete it, got so under my skin, but for some reason it just did. I guess I just really don't like being told what to do, especially by some dweeb on a Facebook group. That's part of why I work for myself. Anyways, all this is to let you know, that I am having my first ever SPITE BARN SALE this Sunday from 12pm to 2pm, just so I can comment on his stupid thread and not be hassled that my sale isn't THIS weekend. Well now it is. I hope he comes.

Thing 2: Okay I hope this doesn't piss anyone off too bad. During the auction someone asked if a mask I was selling was haunted. I said that I promise that the mask is not haunted, but said I would say why later. I never got around to saying why, so I'll say why here: anyone telling you the antiques they are selling you are haunted are either 1) willfully ripping you off, or 2) accidentally ripping you off due to their hysterical delusions. I don't rip people off, so I don't claim the stuff I am selling is haunted. If you had asked me before I was an antiques dealer if I believed in ghosts, I'd probably have said yes. But after nearly eight years of doing this full time, having 1000s of bizarre old things with all sorts of sordid history behind them, including many items containing human remains and otherwise dealing with death, not to mention the gajillion weird old dolls I have sold, I have never once felt anything even a little bit weird, off, strange, spooky, haunty, or anything else from any of them. This has been enough to convince me that, most likely, ghosts aren't real. Plus when I visited the Conjuring house with some friends I said, "I welcome the spirits of this house to possess my mortal vessel" and jack shit happened because that place is not haunted and no place is haunted because ghosts aren't real. Okay, okay, I am getting a little ranty. I really, really want to believe in ghosts. I really, really want to have a paranormal experience. In fact, in my youth, I did have a couple experiences I can't quite explain, but even still, rather than give in to the temptation to believe that they were paranormal, I accept that there is an explanation, based in material reality, that I am just not privy to. That said, I am not discounting those that have had experiences, I just think its much more likely that there is a mundane explanation than a paranormal one. I saw a lady on a Facebook group today trying to sell a crappy old doll for $60 saying that it was haunted with a "negative energy" and that women and children shouldn't buy it. The comments were really bizarre, because it was like a whole bunch of people were participating in a shared delusion, some offering "readings" of the doll. One person even offered skepticism, saying that while the doll was inhabited, she didn't get a negative sense from the spirit. I just don't buy it. In another thread, a woman asked anyone if they had any haunted dolls for sale. A bunch of people chimed in, one with these New-In-Box dolls from the 90s, with details about the spirits that inhabit them. One person even gave (particularly offensive) details about how the spirit suffered from bipolar disorder and was abused in a mental hospital. Its like these people saw Chucky and thought it was a documentary. Or saw Annabelle, the movie, and didn't realize that the real Annabelle is a boring-ass Raggedy Ann doll that (charlatans) Ed & Lorraine shoved in a glass case with a spooky sign. If I was a spirit, why the hell would I want to hang out in a crappy doll? Apparently these spirits are hanging around the internet getting readings, so here, I'll put this out there: any spooky spirits stuck in crappy dolls reading this that want a nice, warm, meaty suit to inhabit, take mine! You can inhabit me. But you won't cuz you're not real. Okay that's that.

I know there are lots of people for whom this stuff is really important, and I hope I didn't offend you with any of this. I still love talking about and reading about and hearing about paranormal stuff. But at the end of the day, I am a skeptic, and even though it seems like my drill is never where I left it, I think its much more likely that I dropped it somewhere and forgot than it is that a ghost moved it. Aliens exist, though.

OKAY. On with what you're here for, post auction analysis, flops, floats, and flights:

Flight: Ugly 1950s French Painting on Board of Woman Leaning Against Car

Purchased $20, Sold $125

Ugly 1950s French Painting on Board of Woman Leaning Against Car

Hey, don't get me wrong. I am calling this painting ugly, but I LOVE it, which is why I bought it, and why I thought about keeping it. This artist wasn't the most skilled person in the world, but I think their style is entirely charming in its naivety and folksiness. When I put it up I said, "Listen this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if I can make $5 on it, I'll sell it, otherwise I am going to hang it up in my house." So I opened it for $25... And a bid came in... and another one... and another one. Until my buddies Matthew and Humberto were duking it out and got this item up to $125! I was obviously really happy, not just because of the $105 profit, but because its really validating to find other people that share my love for this kind of thing.

Halloween Pumpkins

Total Purchase Price $450, Total Sold Price $920

A couple winters ago, an older couple showed up to the weekly indoor antiques market with a collection of the most insanely, high quality, fine condition paper-pulp Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins I had ever seen. I bought the whole lot for $600, and flipped them to a buddy at the market a few minutes later for $800. A couple weeks later they had ANOTHER grouping, which I committed to pay $700 for before I even saw them, if they gave me first crack. Again, I flipped them to this buddy for $900 not soon after. Now, I have been KICKING myself ever since, because even though at the time the $200 profit on each of those two lots seemed like a pretty sweet deal, if I had held onto them, and maybe listed them on eBay, I could have been in for quite the payday.

One aside here, the reason I got first crack at those pumpkins at those markets is because I paid the $40 to get into the market for early buying while the dealers were setting up. If you're serious about getting the best antiques at your local market, and they offer early buying at a cost, don't sleep on it. Its almost always worth it. By the time you come in with the retail buyers, most of the dealers will likely have already traded the best stuff among each other.

Okay, fast forward to this weekend. The dude I had sold those pumpkins to at that market repaid the favor. He wasn't set up at my local outdoor dirt market, but he told me he was holding some primo pumpkins and wanted to give me first shot. He said he had five pumpkys, and the price was five hundo for the lot. He brought me to his car... and he had miscounted, and only had four... so the price became $450. I was squeamish spending that much, but after seeing $250+ price tags on these all week at Brimfield, I knew this was a smart buy. Whether it would pay off in my auction or not was uncertain. I thought about bringing these to eBay, but my auction homies keep me in business, so the best stuff goes to them... and...

Flight: Standing JOL Pumpkin Man; Sold $500

Standing JOL Pumpkin Man

I knew this one would bring the most money of any of them, but I never expected this result, especially given that the face inside the pumpkin was a reprint. But the people bidding on this are heavy-hitter, serious Halloween collectors, and know a rare item when they see it. Apparently one of these recently sold on eBay in the $1000 range. Given what I paid for them, I'm still calling this a flight at $500, because I only expected $300 or so.

Float: Large 8" JOL; Sold $245

Large 8" JOL

I think at $245, the buyer of this pumpkin definitely has some room for resale if they can bring it to a retail market. At Brimfield, I would have expected a pumpkin of this condition to be in the $350+ range. That said, there are TONS of these at Brimfield, and almost all of them are priced $250 plus, which is why there were still plenty on the fields on Friday. The dealers don't seem to realize that buyers have choices, so if they want to make sales, they're going to have to compete on price. Anyways, more on that in a later Brimfield post. I was very happy with $245 for this one, and I am sure my buyer is too.

Flop: Smaller 6" JOL; Sold $140

Smaller 6" JOL

I don't really have much to say about this, and this is officially NOT a complaint, because obviously these pumpkins were well received. I think my mistake may have been doing them in reverse order of desirability. I think people might have been saving their bullets to drop big bids on the rarer stuff, so this one kind of got left behind. Hey, $140 isn't nothing, but I would have loved to see this hit at least $175.

Flop: Double Sided Cardboard JOL; Sold $35

Double Sided Cardboard JOL

On another night, this could have been a $70-$100 item. In fact, on other nights, when I have had these, it has been. I think everyone was just tuckered out after hitting half a G on the standing JOL. I actually put this one up first and tried to open it for $50, but passed it. After the other three pumpkins got me into the black on my investment, I brought this one back last and opened for a penny. $35 is a steal, but its all groovy!

Clearly these pumpkins were a smart buy, and I am super happy with how they were received. Beyond dollars, they also attracted a bunch of new customers, and brought back a few that I haven't seen in a while, which is hard to put a dollar value on.

Flop: Civil War Era Anit-Confederacy Jefferson Davis Caricature Envelopes

Purchased $125, Sold $100

Civil War Era Anit-Confederacy Jefferson Davis Caricature Envelopes

I took a risk on buying these, and that pays off quite often... but not this time. The Brimfield dealer who had these actually had them marked at $125 each, but gave the pair of them to me for the same price. I had a similar envelope last December, this one with a devil, that brought $105, so I thought there was hope for these. But historical items don't always catch fire with my crew. So I opened them at $50 each to prevent a disaster if they didn't catch on. I quickly caught a bid from someone with good taste, but the bid stayed right there. He took both, but I was still out the $25. But hey, I got a couple awesome items into an awesome collection, so... its all groovy!

Civil War Era Anit-Confederacy Jefferson Davis Caricature Envelopes

Flight: Egyptian Revival Thermovane Thermometer

Purchased $40, Sold $190

Egyptian Revival Thermovane Thermometer

If I hit a home run with something a dealer sold me, I like to re-invest some of that money into that dealer to keep the mojo going, and hopefully develop an ongoing relationship that is mutually profitable. So even though I had already shopped his wares earlier in the week at Brim, I went back on Friday to the dealer who sold me that tintype-hair-tray thing from last week, which had made me  $100 or so profit. I found this cool thermometer, and really liked it, but when he told me it was $50, I was thinking that might be the top of what I could get for it. I mean as far as thermometers go, its just about the coolest one I have ever seen, but its still just a thermometer. I countered with $35, and we settled on $40. By the time I had put this up, I had lost money on the previous two items, so I thought this was going to keep up the losing streak. But it took off and... kept going. Very cool result, and stopped the bleeding of the previous couple items.

Flight: Albino Family Currier and Ives Lithograph

Purchased $95, Sold $320

I got this from a dealer at Brimfield who I see all the time at my local markets. I have been buying from him for a couple years, and even though I don't always step up to the plate on some of his higher priced weird stuff, he has a really good idea of the kind of stuff I like to buy. So when I walked into his booth, he said, "Oh! I've got something you'll definitely like" and showed me this. Somehow it was still sitting there four days into Brimfield. He told me $125, and I gave a "okay, we're in the same ball park" shrug, made an offer, and we ended up at $95.

Albino Family Currier and Ives Lithograph

I was pretty confident this would be a winner, but when I got a left bid $30 under what I paid, I was worried I had miscalculated. But come bidding time, we rocketed past that bid pretty quickly, and just as quickly, we were in the profit zone. I was feeling happy that I had a decent little profit on a higher-priced item when bidders started dropping off, but it ended up that two of my most spirited bidders - who I think might have a friendly rivalry after the $1,100 devil puppet a few months back - volleyed bids back and forth. After a false drop-out from one of them, the bid kept climbing, and we ended up a very healthy $320.

I almost never look stuff up, but out of curiosity, I just googled this print, and while I don't see any others available for sale right now, you can apparently get a copy from WalMart for $99.99... weird.

 Shit, its almost 3am...

Flight: Milton's Paradise Lost, Illustrated by Gustave Dore

Purchased $40, Sold $330

Milton's Paradise Lost, Illustrated by Gustave Dore

I got a killer deal on this book at Brimfield. I almost didn't look at this dealer's books, just because they were like 10 or 15 steps out of the direction I was heading in, and I am insanely lazy. I am glad I mustered the energy to take those couple steps, because I found this book and a couple others at really great prices.

When I put this up for bidding, I was going to say, "if you were to buy this at a buy-it-now price from an Instagram dealer, you'd probably be looking at $300 or so," not actually expecting that we'd get near there. I mean these books should be worth that all day, but a couple year ago I had one that totally flopped and only brought $100, so you never know. In the end, we got this one right up around its retail value, which I am super grateful for.

Milton's Paradise Lost, Illustrated by Gustave Dore

Sidenote, even with that hefty profit swing, its not the most I have made off of this edition of Paradise Lost. Last year I got a totally roached copy for $10. It was destroyed beyond saving, so I salvaged the illustrations and put them in mats and sleeves with backing boards and auctioned them off on choice. By the time we were done, those illustrations grossed something like $900, which was kind of insane.

Flop: Antique Hand Colored Lithograph of Christ Crucified

Purchased $20, Sold $29

Antique Hand Colored Lithograph of Christ Crucified

When a homie hooked me up with this print at Brimfield for a $20 steal, I was like "damn, I'm gonna make some cash on this." If I were to sell this as at a buy-it-now price on my Instagram, which used to be how I sold all of my stuff, I probably would have asked $125 shipped, or so, and gotten it sold pretty quickly. I'm not really sure why the bottom has kind of fallen out of religious stuff for me, but it just doesn't seem to catch on anymore. Its a little hard to stomach only making nine bucks on this, but hey, money is money, and someone got something super cool for a great price. Still, I guess I just don't get how a 150 year old hand colored print is only worth as much as a meal out these days. Part of me wants to start taking this kind of thing back to the feed and selling as a BIN, but I want to keep hooking up the auction folks, even if I am not always making as much as I could.

Flop: Hand Painted Sacred Heart on Silk, Framed

Purchased $10, Sold $35

Hand Painted Sacred Heart on Silk, Framed

See above. This did a little better, but again, back in the day, this would have been an easy $70+ item. I think I just need to adjust my expectations of what certain stuff is going to sell for, in the same way I have adjusted my business model from a Instagram feed BIN seller to being almost exclusively an auctioneer. Each has its benefits and its trade offs, and in the end, I think this is the model that works best for me. My hope is that whatever dollars I am missing out on by selling stuff below what I could get if I sold it elsewhere, I am making back by developing relationships with customers who come back week after week, knowing that they're going to get something cool, often at a bargain price. What's my mantra been this blog post? Its all groovy. And it is.

Other items of note:

Float: Silver-plate Mesh Purse; Purchased $5, Sold $22

Flop: Interior Photo of Library; Purchased $10, Sold $14

Flop: Boarded Photo of Horse Drawn Parade Float; Purchased $10, Sold $10

Flop: Framed Photo of Fraternal Order; Purchased $20, Sold $25

Float: Silverplate Tea Strainer; Purchased $5, Sold $14

Float: Amore Ricordo Pendant; Purchased $5, Sold $24

Amore Ricordo Pendant and orange "shit" pinback button

Float: Orange "Shit" Button; Purchsed $5, Sold $25

Float: Us Interior Department Bone Handled Ink Eraser; Purchased $5, Sold $22

Flop: Chocolate Cigar Mold; Paid $10, Sold $10

Float: Walter Whipple's Leather Cuff Box with Paper Cuffs; Purchased $5, Sold $15

Flop: Folk Art Carved Mask with Eyes and Teeth; Purchased $35, Sold $20

Folk Art Carved Mask with Eyes and Teeth

Flight: Japanese Fairy Tales Book; Purchased $2.50, Sold $100

Japanese Fairy Tales Book

Float: 1936 Horoscope Ephemera; Purchased $5, Sold $25

1936 Horoscope Ephemera

Flop: Double Sided Print of John the Baptist's Severed Head; Purchased $60, Sold $50

Double Sided Print of John the Baptist's Severed Head
Double Sided Print of John the Baptist's Severed Head

Float: Sterling Silver Mesh Purse; Purchased $70, Sold $100

Float: Sterling Silver Items (Glove Darner, Button Hook, Pen with Nib); Purchased Together for $25, Sold Separately for a Total of $49

Sterling Silver Items (Glove Darner, Button Hook, Pen with Nib)

Float: Photo of St. Cecelia in Frame; Purchased $20, Sold $30

Float: Old Faces in New Masks Book; Purchased $20, Sold $55

Old Faces in New Masks Book

Flop: Urinary Surgery Book; Purchased $5, Sold $15

Urinary Surgery Book

Flop: Victorian Photo of Baby in Deep Walnut Frame; Purchased $10, Sold $20


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