Auction Post Mortem for Thursday 6/27/2024 - Flops, Floats, and Flights

Auction Post Mortem for Thursday 6/27/2024 - Flops, Floats, and Flights

Watch the auction here.

After I finished up tonight's auction, I immediately pulled up the Presidential debate on my phone to see what I'd missed... Yikes. For anyone who skipped the debate tonight to watch my auction - you're welcome. And that's all I'll say on that. Ohhhh boy.

I don't think its much of a secret that business over here at MHV HQ has slowed down a bit since the warm weather hit, and I've already written about the numerous reasons that could be. Over the winter, my picking sources were incredibly limited, and I was mostly collecting stuff from one or two local Sunday antique shows held in really small venues, and yet was posting some pretty hefty numbers. I figured when the flea markets opened up, I'd be rolling in the dough! But to my surprise, there was an unexpected and significant dip - a big one from March to April.

This led to some frustration, but also a lot of motivation. I've expanded and grown my consignment relationships, I'm hitting sometimes as many as three or four markets on Sunday mornings and afternoons, and I'm always looking for new ways to improve and streamline this smallest-of-the-small business. And... things are turning around. The numbers the past couple of weeks have felt a lot more groovy than the two weeks before, which I think were a couple of my worst auctions to date. Consignors are happy, buyers are happy, and - this one sometimes gets lost in the shuffle - I'm happy.

Quick note on consignment for anyone curious - after tonight's auction, I have paid out just under $11,000 to consignors so far this year. For a little, bitty auction like mine, that's not too shabby. If you have something weird, macabre, mournful, or whatever else that you'd like to sell in my show, get in touch! Reminder that we do not sell human remains other than hair art, we don't sell Nazi stuff, and we don't sell explicitly racist stuff.

I love talking shop. I love yapping about all kinds of ideas I have swirling in my head - like the new absentee bid page on the website, or the pros and cons of opening a brick-and-mortar here in Southern NH. Liza and I spend a lot of time talking about our businesses - mine about to hit the eight-year mark on July 1st, hers still in its infancy. Plus we have our little couple's side-gig renting out our vintage school bus in the backyard on AirBnB. And I'm working on something else right now - if you see what I have here on and have thought you might like your own platform like this one, reach out, because I have some stuff in the works. But anyways, I love talking shop, and its so fun having a partner to always bounce ideas off of, and to share in the triumphs, and the total failures.

Liza and I hosted our friends Johnny and Christina - of @johnnyvampotna and @velvetapparition fame - for a couple days this week as they traverse the country being two of the hardest working people in their industries. There are so many different approaches to the antiques industry, and so many different philosophies, and aesthetics, but when I get to talking about it with Christina and Johnny, I feel like I'm talking to other people who get it, whatever that means. Who value authenticity, have an entrepreneurial drive and curiosity, speak the same aesthetic language, and take an unpretentious, accessible approach to buying and selling antiques. It's always refreshing to spend time and make connections with people who see the world in a similar way that you do.

I think I would like to wrap this up at a relatively reasonable hour tonight, because I need to get up early for my Auntie Esther's funeral mass back in Massachusetts. Esther was the last of the six Dantino sisters born to Francesco and Margherita (Iennachi) Dantino. She was born in 1930, and growing up I knew her as the friendly, affable, and always smiling, always laughing little-old-white-haired-lady sister of my grandmother, Norma, who passed in 1994. I hadn't seen my great-aunt in over a decade, and although I would often marvel at how amazing it was that she was still kicking it in the roaring 20s, I regret that I didn't get down to see her again. Notably, her husband of 70 years - seventy!!! - passed away just a few days before she did. Together in life, and forever after. May they both rest in peace.

Ok let's dish about some antiques.

Float: Mourning Lithographs; Consigned, Sold $160, $165, & $165

Mourning Lithographs

I think I have said before that there is a time when I would say a mourning litho selling for under $200 is an auto-flop, but in the past three or so weeks, I think I have sold ten of them. Simple supply and demand applies here, and I am very pleased that even with such a saturation of them in my shows, they are still pulling in decent numbers and generating interest. Now I suspect that if I don't have one for a few months, and then I suddenly find one in the wild this fall, it will bring in a big number. But what we're doing right now is liquidating a consigned collection, so I am happy with the money they're bringing, and my consignor is getting more than he'd get from me if I bought them outright.

Flight: Charles Eisnemann CDV Photo of Tattooed Lady Nora Hildebrandt; Consigned, Sold $285

Charles Eisnemann CDV Photo of Tattooed Lady Nora Hildebrandt

My consignors typically send me photos before they bring me stuff, and when I saw this photo in the mix I got in a recent text, I was infinitely pumped. I don't really know why I get so excited when this stuff passes through my hands, or when I find something good in the wild, because its not like I am really keeping any of it. I almost exclusively buy to sell, consign to sell... But I still get excited when I get the privilege of selling something that is of great personal interest and quality. So anyways, I was psyched to have this photo. Tattoo stuff is so hard to get, and so often stays among tattooers - which is where this one is heading.

I initially was going to give this the float designation, simply because if I was buying this for myself, I would pay $285 all day long. But I decided to go with the flight because, I really only expected to be able to bring $150-$175 in my show. During bidding, I was curious what comps looked like, and the most notable one I found was a similar CDV of Hildebrandt, in a different pose, sold by Potter & Potter in 2018 for $330 (with buyer's premium). In my opinion, Potter & Potter is the coolest auction house in the country, selling some of the most rare and incredible curiosities in existence. Talk about something to aspire to. And the fact that my humble little auction realized a price for a Hildebrandt CDV in striking distance of what they got for it is definitely a new point of pride for me.

Flight: 1/9th Plate Cased Hair Art Flowers; Consigned, Sold $240

1/9th Plate Cased Hair Art Flowers

Flight: Pair of Vintage Brass Chimera/Lion/Gryffin Plaques; Purchased, Sold $185

Pair of Vintage Brass Chimera/Lion/Gryffin Plaques

Float: Witchy-Wishy 1925 Southern Fortune Telling Cards; Consigned, Sold $150

Witchy-Wishy 1925 Southern Fortune Telling Cards

Float: Chalkware Angel Gravestone Casting; Consigned, Sold $110

Chalkware Angel Gravestone Casting

Float: Curly Horned Sheep Skull; Purchased, Sold $100

Curly Horned Sheep Skull

I had to pay $85 plus a 15% buyer's premium to buy this thing... So I really didn't make any money at all on it. But Taxidermy is so hit or miss in my auction, and this piece did have some condition issues, so I was happy to recoup my money and cover my expenses, while getting someone something they're really gonna love. The auction I purchased it at was unusually competitive in it's second session this week, which cut into my bottom line on a lot of items, but it was still worth the 12 hour day.

Float: Currier "Drunkard's Progress" Temperance Lithograph; Consigned, Sold $80

Currier "Drunkard's Progress" Temperance Lithograph

Float: 1907 Signed Oil on Canvas Portrait of Woman; Purchased, Sold $130

1907 Signed Oil on Canvas Portrait of Woman

Flop: Halloween Postcards; Purchased, Sold $30 Each

Halloween Postcards

I made enough money on these Halloween postcards that they were definitely worth the purchase - plus its always worth it to get awesome items into awesome Halloween collections. With that said, I thought these postcards were considerably better than the average ones that I get in, so I was surprised that no competing bids came in to top the first $30 bid. I expected these would bring $50-$75 each, and they significantly under-performed. I have another one or two coming in next week, so now I am a little nervous... but we'll see what happens!

Halloween Postcards

Float: Suggestive Therapeutics Book by The Psychic Research Co.; Consigned, Sold $40

Suggestive Therapeutics Book by The Psychic Research Co.

Float: Destiny Fortune Card Deck; Consigned, Sold $70

Destiny Fortune Card Deck

Flop: Real Photo Postcard (RPPC) Of Creepy Kids with Masks; Consigned, Sold $20

Real Photo Postcard (RPPC) Of Creepy Kids with Masks

Float: CDV Photo of Circassion Beauty Sideshow Performer; Consigned, Sold $45

CDV Photo of Circassion Beauty Sideshow Performer

Float: Metal Fly Ashtray; Consigned, Sold $40

Float: Italian Devil Pipe; Consigned, Sold $29

Float: Victorian Scrap Album with Mushroom on Cover; Consigned, Sold $80

Float: Victorian Scrap Album with White Photos on Cover; Consigned, Sold $55

Victorian Scrap Album

I am a little tempted to call these scrap albums flops, just because there was a time a couple years ago when these would have brought $125+ each, but some of the bidders that really popped off on this kind of thing have come and gone. Considering that, I think this result is pretty good, and in line with trends I have been seeing. A couple years ago every Victorian scrap album I saw at the antique markets was $150 and up, but I have noticed prices coming down considerably recently, more often in the ball park of $75. Each one is so unique, its hard to really know what goes into these prices. There are certain trade cards that can alone be worth well more than that. But at the end of the day, I think these performed well enough, we can spare them the shame of a flop designation.

Float: The Great War on White Slavery, Antique Book on Human Trafficking; Consigned, Sold $30

The Great War on White Slavery, Antique Book on Human Trafficking

Float: Old Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards; Consigned, Sold $45

Old Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards

Float: Columbia Batteries Ink Blotter Advertising With Devil Graphics; Consigned, Sold $17

Columbia Batteries Ink Blotter Advertising With Devil Graphics

Flight: Gold Matted Antique Frame with Cabinet Card; Purchased, Sold $65

Gold Matted Antique Frame with Cabinet Card

I bought this frame purely out of spite. There was a dude at the auction I was bidding at who shared the same taste as me in a lot of things, and in a basement auction where I normally would be getting item after item for $5 - or less - I found I kept having to pay out the wazoo for stuff, eventually running up a $900 bill. But anyways, I was getting frustrated with this guy, so I just decided I was going to keep bidding to get the stuff I wanted, even if had to pay up. Ultimately this frame and photo cost me $20, which really isn't much. But after I heard him say to his partner, " What's he gonna do, resell it for its content?!" Pointing to the rather bland photo in it. So anyways, I was pretty pumped to triply my money on this. In your face, buster!

Float: Hidden Mother Tintype; Consigned, Sold $55

Hidden Mother Tintype; Consigned

Flight: Redware Hand Holding Cup Pipe; Purchased, Sold $55

Float: Mixed Lot of 1970s Beistle Halloween Paper Cutouts; Purchased, Sold $45

Mixed Lot of 1970s Beistle Halloween Paper Cutouts

Flop: Jointed Vintage Beistle Halloween Pumpkin Man; Purchased, Sold $20

Jointed Vintage Beistle Halloween Pumpkin Man

Flop: Weber Silicone Spiderweb Graphics Tin; Purchased, Sold $9

Float: Child's Arts and Crafts Scrapbook; Purchased, Sold $27

Flop: Societa Di Muro Lucano Ribbon with Skull; Purchased, Sold $30

Flop: Post Mortem CDV of Child; Purchased, Sold $45

Post Mortem CDV of Child

Float: Lot of 7 Pieces of Uranium Glass; Purchased, Sold $50

Back to blog

Leave a comment

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