Skip to comments.Hunt treasure in dumpsters, thrift stores
Posted on 10/25/2005 6:37:45 PM PDT by SJackson
Before I could write my column this week, I had to take an hour off to watch "Antiques Roadshow" on PBS, locally WHA. It feeds my fantasy of finding or buying an item and have it turn out to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The show always has a few people who either bought an item at a yard sale for a dollar or two or found it. For example, Monday's show featured a man who went dumpster diving and found a rare print by John Turnbull of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was worth $700 to $800. That's not a bad find.
A woman on the show had something even more valuable: a Cartier cigarette case worth thousands. It had been given to her mother, who owned a restaurant. The mother took it from a hungry man in exchange for three breakfasts. The woman had kept it in a box under her bed along with other items her mother had taken in exchange for food when people couldn't pay for meals. When she got home, she planned to check through the box to see what else she could find. I certainly would and would seek a good appraiser too.
My favorite antiques story comes from the British edition of "Antiques Roadshow." A woman who was the supervisor for a dumpsite in Britain collected jewelry she found over the years in the garbage. Her collection was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it had come from garbage.
I'm left with the question of how it got in the garbage. Did someone cleaning house mistake real gems for fake ones and because she didn't like the style throw it in the garbage? Alternatively, did the piece fall into the garbage by mistake and was not missed for so long no one had any idea to where it disappeared? Or, maybe someone with a lot of money got mad at whomever gave her the jewelry and threw it away to flout him.
I think the show has spurred me to haunting thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales. I keep hoping that an item that catches my eye and is cheap will really be worth a fortune or at least much more than I paid. I don't know if this has ever happened, although I have bought plenty from such places. I never take any of my finds to antiques dealers or appraisers. I guess I am not optimistic enough that I will be that fortunate.
If I really wanted antiques, I should go to antique stores and shows. However, they scare me. I'm afraid my knowledge of antiques is too limited, and I would end up either paying more than something is worth, or I would buy a reproduction rather than a real antique.
I should go to some of the reputable dealers in the area, but I really don't have the money to buy antiques. My pocketbook squeezes me into the used market.
Anything we buy for our homes may someday become an antique -- provided not many people keep that particular style. For example, our parents and grandparents bought dinnerware in a style now known as Depression glass. It was cheap and colorful with many intricate patterns. You could buy it at the dime store in the 20s, 30s and 40s for next to nothing.
Many people probably donated it to thrift stores or sold it at yard sales when they got tired of it or their children didn't want it. Perhaps it even went out with the garbage, because nobody thought it was worth much.
Today, Depression glass is highly valued and collected by many people who will pay a hundred times what a piece sold for originally.
My plan is to find nice pieces of anything that might become an antique and hold on to them for years until they become valuable. Of course, I'm still limited by money and by space -- no house is ever big enough if you become a collector and you never have enough money.
If I could just find one item and take it to "Antiques Roadshow" maybe, I'd make some money. I believe my chances are probably as good as buying a lottery ticket and a lot more fun.
A little off topic, I admit.
If you find any Microsoft stock certificates issued around 1985, give me a call!
I frequent the ebay vintage clothing board. There are many ladies who make a living from shopping in Salvation Army and Goodwill stores, yard sales and estate sales. They research the stuff and sell them on ebay.
The board is educational and explains different eras, patterns, etc. of vintage clothes.
There is one woman who sells 70's and 80's junk clothes, but has fantastic stylists and photos. She caters to teenyboppers with lots of cash. Mamastonevintage is the envy of ebay vintage sellers.
My two best finds included a bakelite bracelet I found at the local Goodwill Store which I bought for $1.00 which, when I put it on eBay, sold for over $300.00 and an old framed print by a famous artist I found in a small thrift store that I paid $25.00 for and sold on eBay for over $800.00!
The thing the person described is an actual job -- those people are called "pickers" in the antique business. They mostly have a fair knowledge of a lot of different fields, furniture, glass jewelry, and a good eye. They travel across country or regions snooping in garage sales and thrift stores for un-discovered gems. When they find one, they sell it to a dealer who then launches it into the antiques pipeline.
Hasn't "Antiques Road Show" been busted for inflating values and trying to help hoodwink insurance companies?
I started with 'rescuing' pottery and glass...
now I seem to pick up 'everything'....sigh....
I bought the Cosmopolitan edition of the first Male nude, Burt Reynolds, as I knew someday it would be worth alot. Unfortunately one of my kids got ahold of it and it disappeared. :-(
Dang, you must be really old! :o)
What you called Depression Glass I actually sold. Mine was actually sold as Westmoreland Glass (McKee, Jeanette, Westmoreland) companies that produced glass dishes and giftware in the early to mid 20th century. It was made in abudance locally...first rule of eBaying, sell something you can easily find yourself.
I thought it was undervaluing and buying the goods.
Maybe google will help us.
One famous segment involved a rather nondescript sword brought onto the show in 1997. The owner claimed to have used it, in his youth, to slice watermelons. Appraiser George Juno excitedly declared the sword a remarkable Civil War find worth $35,000, and instructed the bewildered owner to handle it in the future only while wearing white gloves. This was classic Roadshow -- an unassuming piece of rust, brought in by an owner who figured What the hell; guess Ill see if this is worth anything, turns out to be a portable Brinks truck.
Trouble is, that quintessential segment was faked. The Boston Herald recently investigated; turns out, the appraiser had orchestrated the entire appraisal. This wasnt Joe Q. Public stumbling onto an attic goldmine; this was a scheme by a businessman to cook up some free publicity for himself.
I'm not THAT old. Did you ever watch "That 70's Show"? :) I was one of the kids ... :o)
Found a metal tape measure "H.B. Maynard Co." with case all metal too. It's a hard-to-find item.
This is not the first time that ethics questions have dogged the pair. In June 1999 Pritchard and the AOPA were found liable in federal civil court of defrauding George Pickett V over artifacts of his ancestor, the famous general who made the futile charge at Gettysburg, artifacts that Pritchard purchased for $87,500 and were later sold for over $850,000.
Yes. Google records a number of problems with Antiques Roadshow. Which doesn't mean it's not fun to watch, hehe.
As a flea market vendor, I was shocked at the attitude of some other vendors who never missed ROADSHOW so they could exploit items evn remotely similar to anything on the show. Naive me!
Pinging ya DD...;-)