Auction Post Mortem for Thursday 5/30/2024 - Flops, Floats, and Flights

Auction Post Mortem for Thursday 5/30/2024 - Flops, Floats, and Flights

Watch the auction here.

Watch the impromptu virtual barn sale here.

NOTE: Next week's auction will be on Saturday, June 8th, at 7pm EST! I have Auction School class on Thursday evening.

Show season is in full swing. The month opened with May Brimfield in Brimfield, MA (Brimfield "proper") and closed with the Memorial Day Weekend "Brimfield North" show in Deerfield, NH. Back in May of 2021, when this show was in its infancy, it was the first real antique show I had ever sold at. I had just bought a vintage school bus to turn into a traveling antiques store, and was excited to debut it at this big show. Despite the fact that it rained the whole weekend, it was an awesome experience, and I was pretty pumped with the money I made. I followed this up with appearances at Brimfield Proper in July and September of that year, the first shows since Covid had shut the market down in 2020. Again, I was really excited to walk away from those shows with a boat load of cash, but ultimately decided that the work of loading up all of my inventory and carting it across New England was a bit much for me. Plus, I was so jealous seeing all of the people walking around with the incredible stuff they were buying.

Even though I haven't set up at any Brimfield event in three years, I still get my regular dealer friends asking me at these shows if I am set up anywhere. "No, no, I'm just here to buy," I tell them. And buy I do. Everything in this week's auction came from Brimfield North, and I was really impressed with the goods that the dealers brought with them. I was a little worried that there would be a lot of stale Brimfield leftovers from the show a couple weeks before, but found a surprising amount of fresh inventory to pick from. I moved pretty quickly through the first few dozen dealers, until I happened upon a dealer I see often at a local flea market, who brought some really choice stuff. I probably spent the first half hour or so wheeling and dealing with him, and lost track of how much money I dropped in his booth.

I think I mentioned in last week's blog post that its almost always worth paying to get into a show for early buying if its an option. That point was certainly proved again here, as I shelled out $20 to get in two hours before the $5 general admission crowd. Sure enough, 80% of the stuff I bought was in that first two hours of early buying.

I got enough stuff on that Saturday at the market, that I decided to sleep in on Sunday and skip the local fleas, something I almost never do. But sleeping in felt really nice. Then I had my spite barn sale, which I wrote about last week, and made $10. So that was worth it, I guess.

I try not to complain too, too much about how fickle the Instagram algorithm is, but my grievances have definitely been slipping into my public commentary lately. Little did I know, all I had to do was broadcast my fart to my 13 thousand followers to get their attention.

Tuesday, after my tele-health therapy appointment, which I do in my auction room, I turned around and decided I'd do a quick Insta post before going about my daily tasks. I pretty quickly, for whatever reason, decided it would be funny if I did a reel where I pretended the beautiful hair wreath I had in this week's show was haunted, gently poking fun at all of the "my stuff is haunted" posts popping up lately on social media (you can read more of my thoughts on that on my rant in last week's blog post). The gag was that when it came time to show evidence of the haunting, I'd just dub in a fart sound. Real genius, high brow stuff. I actually downloaded a fart sound to use in the video, but when I went to search for the file, found that I actually had several of my own farts recorded on my phone, and ultimately used the file "fart for hannah 2" as the winning sound effect.

I was going to ask Liza if I should go through with posting it, but instead decided to post it first, rather than risk being talked out of it. Of course, I spoiled her first viewing, because I couldn't hold in my laughter knowing the forthcoming flatulence. Well, anyways, the video is currently sitting at 31.2k views with 783 likes, 114 comments, and 537 shares, which is more views, likes, comments, and shares than literally anything I have ever posted in 7 years and over 6,000 posts on this Instagram account. I gained a bunch of followers from it too, but follower count didn't change... which tells me I lost just as many. Anyways, it was fun having a post get some attention, and seeing the engagement on the surrounding posts tick up a little bit was nice too.

My plan was to go to bed early tonight, and drive 4.5 hours to Madison Bouckville Antique Show Saturday morning... That is still my plan, but after dilly-dallying all day, its now approaching 9pm, and I still have to write this blog post, so the going to bed early part of that plan may have come and gone. Alright, let's get into some flops, floats, and flights.

Oh wait, I just finished writing this blog post and totally forgot I wanted to dish a little bit about my first couple classes of auction school! I am enrolled in a just-over-a-week-long auction course, a step toward becoming a licensed auctioneer in the State of New Hampshire. I don't actually need a license to conduct auctions online in this state thanks to 2018 legislation which exempted online-only auctions from licensure. But there are always grumblings of those rules being changed, and I also think that getting my license will lend a bit of legitimacy to this whacky little operation of mine. It will also open up all kinds of new opportunities for me, including the possibility of eventually conducting in-person auctions, which could be kind of cool.

The classes so far have focused on the auction chant, and developing that skill. Naturally, I have been running all over the house sing-songing "I have one dollar bid, now two, now two, would you give me two..." and so on. I'm a little nervous to whip out my new skills in our virtual auction, but I did pepper a couple chants in last night, and might do more in the future. Its a little different with what I do, just because it is so often necessary for me to shout out the high bidder's username, which interrupts the circular flow I am learning in class.

The range of people in the class is pretty interesting - there are folks much younger than me, and folks much older than me, aiming to make this a profession. The group includes a trio of siblings, who I suspect are going to conquer the auction world with their new family business, if their family isn't already in the business. There's also a very interesting fellow who is actually a bit of a celebrity charity auctioneer, who, after a little sleuthing, I learned sold a signed Tom Brady jersey for over a million bones! Damn! But ya, the class is super fun, and I am excited to "go legit."

One last note, but yesterday was my parents' 48th wedding anniversary. FORTY EIGHT YEARS. (That really should be spelled fourty, idgi). I mean, I am 33, and to think they've been married for my whole lifetime, plus another 15 years, is just wild. We had planned to go out to dinner with them last night before the auction, but I am a dumbass, and it didn't even register that it was their anniversary. My mom had fun teasing me for forgetting, and was a good sport. And she and dad picked up the tab... but ice cream was on me.

While we were at dinner, some pretty momentous political news came across my phone, which was the topic of much discussion... and sure, a little bit of celebration. Now a few years ago, I might have had a lot to say about this news on my Instagram page, and during my live auction, but since moving to New Hampshire, and, possibly unrelated to that move, becoming increasingly disillusioned with our political system in general, I am much less interested in sharing my political views, and in shouting down those with views opposite mine. As fun as it was getting 500 likes on a post calling DJT a terrorist on January 6th, 2021, I think I would rather people think of my little corner of the net as a politics-free space. Maybe this is a little cowardly of me, because there are things happening in the world I feel compelled to speak out about, but I also feel that what I have to say doesn't add much to the conversation, and that no one is looking to their antique dealer for political opinions. I think people are more interested in my fart jokes. I could probably go on for a while with my stream of consciousness thoughts on all this... but I think we'll leave it there, and get onto the flops, floats, and flights I promised you like 500 word ago... okay... GO!

Float: Christian in the Valley of the Shadow of Death Print of Knight and Devil

Purchased $85, Sold $310

Christian in the Valley of the Shadow of Death Print of Knight and Devil

This was probably the first or second item I asked for a price on at Brimfield North. It was being sold by Jess, a dealer I have bought from at several shows over the years, who always has great stuff, but can be a little tough on prices. When I asked a price, she told me $300, and I thought that was a fair retail price, and politely passed. Later in the day, I saw Liza asking about the same print (she's always on the lookout for the good shit!), and when I walked up, Jess said, "Oh, Ryan, I didn't know you were asking about the Devil print, I thought you were asking about this Erte print," gesturing to a large Art Deco lithograph. She then told me the price on the print I wanted was $85, which I quickly scooped up.

Moments before auction time, a regular bidder dropped me a $300 left bid on this item, which I was super pumped about, because that's right around where I wanted to see this item end up. Like I said, when Jess had originally told me the price was $300, I figured that was right about what it would be worth to a retail buyer, but was more than I could hope to turn a profit on. When live bidding happened,  the price quickly climbed to $200, and then kept going as a first time bidder on Instagram joined in the mix, ultimately surpassing the very strong left bid, for a selling price of $310.

Flight: Hair Wreath & Flop: Mourning Embroidery

Purchased Together for $250; Hair Wreath Sold $340, Mourning Embroidery Sold $105

victorian hair wreath

These two items were my first big purchase at Brimfield North, and the only reason I got the chance to buy them is because I paid to get in early, and didn't dilly dally with the dozens of dealers I passed whose booths didn't immediately draw me in. The dealer I got these from was asking $100 for the embroidery, and $200 for the hair wreath, and, with some reluctance, accepted my offer of $250 for the pair.

Hair work can be so hit or miss in my shows. I am still perplexed that a piece a consigned piece, with a beautiful mourning poem as part of the assemblage, brought less than $200. The one I had this week had the benefit of having been seen by thousands of people in my world-famous viral fart video, and although it was incredibly beautiful, it was also quite simple compared to some other examples I have seen recently. I was very happy when a bidding war brought this to a final resting place of $340, well within the profit zone.

victorian mourning embroidery

Not long after the hair wreath, I did the very lovely mourning embroidery that I had purchased with it. Even though it was all gravy after the big return on the hair wreath, I was a bit disappointed this embroidery only brought $105. A similar one back in January brought a much stronger $250. That said, that one was larger, unframed, and had the name Henry on it, which was the surname of the winning bidder, and I think ultimately drove up the price. But even with the somewhat underwhelming result of the embroidery, purchasing these two items definitely paid off.

My friend and long, long time customer Robert, better known by his Instagram handle @toysinmyhouse (who was one of the first people I ever saw do an Instagram Live event with any amount attendance) had told me he'd be dealing at Brimfield North and had a couple things I would be interested in. He certainly did, and he gave me a great deal on a lot of four items for a total of $150 that I was really excited about. He ALSO mentioned how much he enjoyed reading my little blog posts here (he was actually the second person to mention the blog to me that day, which I gloated about to Liza for the rest of the night). After we finalized our transaction he wished me well, and told me he hoped they'd all be flights come Blog time! Thank you so much for hooking it up Robert! I had high hopes... but...

Flop: Devil Riding Horse Creamer, Made in Germany

Purchased in $150 Lot, Sold $70

Devil Riding Horse Creamer, Made in Germany

At the end of the day, $70 for a little porcelain creamer really isn't anything to sneeze at, but I expected this item to perform a little better. Its got a devil mixed with a good deal of whimsy, and a bit of rarity, so I thought that should easily propel it past $100 or more. The only other one up for grabs I can find online right now is sitting on eBay for $200. I mean the fact that its listed at that price and not sold is a good indication that its worth less than $200, but I figured mine would fall somewhere in between. In the end, no such luck, but it went to an awesome customer, and I'm really excited she got it.

Flop: Whimsical Cast Iron Frog Band Clock Case

Purchased in $150 Lot, Sold $65

Whimsical Cast Iron Frog Band Clock Case

I actually thought this uncut clock case would end up doing better than the devil creamer. My audience tends to love frogs - I'm looking at you allthefrogsnow - and this, like the creamer, had just the right amount of whimsy I thought it might take off. I just looked it up to see if I was right that its original purpose was to be a clock case, and I did indeed find the complete clock, which sold on Live Auctioneers for $225. I'd have liked to see this bring at least $100, but hey, this is no disaster.

Flop: Knock-Off Betty Boop Refresco Tip Tray

Purchased in $150 Lot, Sold $12

Knock-Off Betty Boop Refresco Tip Tray

There's not a whole lot to say about this item, but I know Boop is a super popular icon, and I figured this would be an equally popular item. Turns out they only go for about $30 elsewhere online, but I was still surprised I didn't get any takers when I tried to open the item for $15. I later brought it back with a $10 opening bid, and bidding didn't really go anywhere, stopping at $12.

Float: Animal Bingo Tin Lithograph Spinner Toy

Purchased in $150 Lot, Sold $40

This is the only item from this quartet that brought about what I expected it would. Like I have said, I almost never look up the stuff I am selling in my auction - I leave that to my bidders - and looking this up now, I see that $40 is just about on par with what these typically bring.

Animal Bingo Tin Lithograph Spinner Toy

All in all, I was able to turn my $150 spend with Robert into $187, for a pre-expense profit of $37. Hey, we're in the black, so we can call that a victory, but typically if I am spending $150, I am hoping to bring in at least $300 or more on the return, so this was a bit of an underwhelming result. I'm still calling it a win, because I got to support a dealer who has been super supportive of me over the years, bring some super fun items to market and get them into some awesome collections, all while making enough profit to go out for Chinese food AND get a virgin Pina Colada. All good man!

Flight: Sterling Silver Hand Bottle Opener "Good Luck to Eddie"

Purchased with Other Opener for $50, Sold $130

Sterling Silver Hand Bottle Opener "Good Luck to Eddie"

After I bought this little bottle opener in the shape of a hand bidding dear Eddie good luck, along with another, less good opener of a swimsuit lady, I told Liza with a chuckle that I just spent $50 on two bottle openers, figuring this was going to be kind of a funny blunder. But when you like something, you like it, and this little bottle opener was way too charming to leave behind. I actually got a $125 left bid earlier in the day, after making a well-received, but very simple, Instagram reel highlighting this lil' thing. The left bidder got just outbid, for a final sale price of $130. And then the little swimsuit opener went on to bring $24 in its own right, for a total of $154 off a $50 buy. That's a flight all day baby!

vintage swimsuit lady bottle opener

Flight: Boston Terrier Photo in Bubble Frame

Purchased $50, Sold $250

Boston Terrier Photo in Bubble Frame

I am calling this a flight, but I secretly had an intuition this might bring big money. This item got a lot of attention on both Instagram and Facebook, with lots of people expressing interest. I think the dealer originally was asking $100 for this, but I bundled a bunch of other things with it, so I am estimating my cost at $50, but either way, its a pretty significant profit. I am super excited Boston Terrier stuff is still hot among my peeps, and someday I need to go back and count all the different BT items I have sold over the years.

Flop: Antique Taxidermy Monitor Lizard

Purchased $65, Sold $50

Antique Taxidermy Monitor Lizard

This thing was really beat up, but I harbored a bit of hope that there could be money to be made even at $65 purchase price, just because its not something you see everyday. And despite the condition, its honestly not bad for a reptile taxidermy piece of this age. In the end, whomp whomp, I lost $15, but you can't win them all, and a super cool customer got something super cool. That's what its all about.

Float: Late 1930s "Mystifying Oracle" Ouija Board

Purchased $5, Sold $150

Late 1930s "Mystifying Oracle" Ouija Board

The dealer I bought this from recognized me from last year's Brimfield North when I bought a Royal Bayreuth devil creamer off of him and his partner for a very friendly price. Grateful for my past business, he decided to continue the tradition of friendly pricing by selling me this relatively rare board for an insanely cheap $5. I bought a few more things off him that I probably wouldn't have otherwise - like a trio of blue and white plates for $30, which ultimately ended up passing in the auction - just because I wanted to keep the mojo going and thank him for an item outside his wheelhouse that I knew would be a big success for me.

I was honestly a bit surprised come bidding time that people weren't all over this. I think that the rarity of the "Mystifying Oracle" variations of this board, notable for the absence of the word "Ouija," tends to get lost on my audience, as I have had other versions bring sub-par money. Bidding slowed pretty quickly, but picked up again when my resident Ouija-expert bidder, whose collection of boards is absolutely unrivaled, hopped in, and ultimately brought it up to $150. Unfortunately, I had already declared the item sold when a late bid came in from Instagram, which could have bumped that price up a bit more, approaching flight territory. But in the end, $150 off a $5 buy is pretty groovy. And I got the board into the hands of someone who knows whats up in the Ouija world, so that's pretty cool.

Other Items of Note

Float: Print of Fairy in Deep Black Frame; Purchased $20, Sold $65

Print of Fairy in Deep Black Frame

Flop: Lignum Vitae Wood Museum Sample; Purchased $20, Sold $25

Lignum Vitae Wood Museum Sample

Float: Hand Carved Folk Art Boot, Signed Russell, 1971; Purchased $15, Sold $30

Flop: Antique Christ Religious Lithographs; Purchased Pair for $10 Each, Sold $15 and $10, Respectively

Float: Cabinet Card of Woman and Baby With Ornate Apron; Purchased $2,50, Sold $20

Flop: Antique Battle of the Tritons Plaster Plaque; Purchased $20, Sold $20

Antique Battle of the Tritons Plaster Plaque

Flop: Egyptian Revival Prone Figure with Incense Dish; Purchased $60, Sold $60

Egyptian Revival Prone Figure with Incense Dish

Flop: Boarded Group Odd Fellows Photo; Purchased $65, Sold $60

Boarded Group Odd Fellows Photo

Float: Empire Art Silver Art Nouveau Wax Seal; Purchased $10, Sold $40

Empire Art Silver Art Nouveau Wax Seal

Float: Vintage Chalkware Zodiac Wall Plaque; Purchased $10, Sold $42

Vintage Chalkware Zodiac Wall Plaque

Float: Glass Bottle with Metal Filigree; Purchased $10, Sold $30

Float: Antique Chicago Advertisement with Nude Lady and Incense; Purchased $10, Sold $55

Antique Chicago Advertisement with Nude Lady and Incense

Float: Modern Taschen Devil Book; Purchased $10, Sold $27

Flight: Print of Woman with Dog in Black Eastlake Frame; Purchased $10, Sold $100 (Powerbid!)

Print of Woman with Dog in Black Eastlake Frame

Float: Antique Hard Image Case with Mother of Pearl Inlay; Purchased $20, Sold $42

Float: Antique Shell From 1895 Ipswich Clam Bake; Purchased $5, Sold $15

Antique Shell From 1895 Ipswich Clam Bake

Float: Trio of Plates with Little Girl in Playful Poses; Purchased $25, Sold $40

Trio of Plates with Little Girl in Playful Poses

Flop: Vintage NOS Halloween Trinkets (Hollywood Horror Teeth, Devil's Scary Nails, Hanging Skeleton); Purchased Lot for $55, Sold $14 Each ($42 Total)

Vintage NOS Halloween Trinkets (Hollywood Horror Teeth, Devil's Scary Nails, Hanging Skeleton)
Vintage NOS Halloween Trinkets (Hollywood Horror Teeth, Devil's Scary Nails, Hanging Skeleton)
Vintage NOS Halloween Trinkets (Hollywood Horror Teeth, Devil's Scary Nails, Hanging Skeleton)

Float: Vintage Church Printing Plate; Purchased $5, Sold $40

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.