Worth At Least
You might remember the auction in Romulus that kind of kicked off Sarah’s auction fever. Remember she bought that whole platter of dolls?
We ventured back to this auction a few Fridays ago. The wares looked really appealing.
I had my eye on those paper mache Belsnickel Santas. One was holding a carrot, which is both confusing and adorable. Maybe for the reindeer? All I know is that if Santa brought me a carrot, I’d look at him with the most disappointment.
We ran into a friend of ours at this auction and he was there scoping out some paintings. He thought they might be mega valuable, like tens of thousands, if they were real. Sarah and I explained to him that prices at this auction sometimes go really high (we saw a saxophone sell for $4,000 once). Really though, to us, “really high” means something goes over like $60. Our friend said he was willing to spend a couple grand on the paintings which made me be like 1. Are you secretly rich? 2. Why have you never told me you were secretly rich? and 3. Buy me those paper mache Santas because I don’t want to spend more than $50 on them.
[Spoiler alert: The paintings sold for over $2,000 each and our friend didn’t win any of them. The Santas went for over $200, and not to me.]
There were actually two auctions happening at this place at the same time. A back room was filled with all old, ceramic baby plates being auctioned off separately.
Here is a plate showing me on the day that I got chased by another dog while out walking George and then in anger called a man fat:
Sarah and I hung out in this baby plate room the most because items were selling really affordably. In the main auction room, things were quite different. You see, this auction is great because they have really nice things all the time. However, the auctioneer is, to be frank, super obnoxious.
He does this whole act with EVERY item in which he says, “Ok we got this [insert item] and clearly this is very old and it must be WORTH AT LEAST [insert some crazy high price].” This gets so frustrating because sometimes he doesn’t even know what an item is, and yet he makes up some fantastical price for it. And then the item always sells for around that price.
Kudos to him for having such a trustworthy audience, all of whom are going to be so sad when they do some research on ebay later.
Ok, so back in the baby plate room, I scored two items. Both of these are Roseville pottery, a brand I bought and sold recently. These plates came together in a lot that I paid $40 for. I am keeping the rabbit one for future baby’s room:
I love this because the rabbits kind of look like weird martian rabbits.
The second plate has chicks on it and I am going to list it on ebay:
Other than these two things, I didn’t buy anything else at the auction.
Sarah tried to buy some things but kept failing miserably. After the baby plate auction, a third separate auction started for a bunch of old postcards. There were literally thousands of postcards, all stored in huge albums. Each album was selling for $80-$200 each, depending on the content of the cards inside.
It was sad to watch. In my head I was cheering for Sarah, and visibly holding my breath each time she was bidding. But this SAME WOMAN each time would outbid her. This woman bought nearly every album and spent a ton of cash doing so.
There’s Sarah looking forlorn in the crowd. I wanted to yell out, “Come on! Just let her buy one!!” but there was a whole crowd of people wanting to just buy one album and they didn’t get to either.
It turns out that this woman owns an online store in which she scans vintage postcards that are past copyright and turns them into “new things”—probably prints them on a ton of sh*t. To be fair, this is a genius idea. Still though, she could have shared a little bit of the bounty.
Update from Sarah: Before I get amped up with postcard talk, let me show you a few things that were cool at this auction that I did not purchase.
I’m really kicking myself for missing out on that sign because Adam realllllly liked it when I showed him the picture, and it would fit in very well in our kitchen.
That plate is so stinkin’ cute but I could not rationalize buying it because I do not have baby boys.
Giant shelf with tiny drawers? Yes, please!
These aren’t cool—they’re super ugly and look like ducks with alligator heads. But I think they were Roseville and I wanted to show them to you.
This is also not cool—it’s super freaky.
Ok, postcard time. What that lady does with her postcards is what Adam has been begging me to do with all of the paper goods I find that are past copyright. There is something about this that really bothers me and makes me feel bad—that I’d be turning someone’s old artwork into something mass produced. Also, in case you forgot, Adam—I have a full-time job. I don’t know—good for her. But it’s not something I’d want to do. Also, I actually felt hatred toward her while the auction was happening. I mean come on. These albums had HUNDREDS of cards in them each—do you really need 10,000 postcards?!
They were really cool cards and in very good condition. Here’s an example of why I wanted just ONE album to sort through.
Oh also at one point, when they were letting people choice out the albums of cards (there were so many albums that the auctioneer would say the winner had to take 4 or 5 at the high bid price) and she won, she looked at her loooong list of what she wanted and said, “Where’s 41? I want that one.” The auctioneer was like, “You already bought that one.” WTFFFFFFF?!!!!! Clearly, she didn’t even know what she did or didn’t have in her possession!
I wish we had gotten a picture of her because she had a little minion/friend with her who was in charge of her book full of notes about each album. Erin said that when we get older, that’s going to be us. But *I’m* going to be the a$$hole buying all the postcards. :(
I did end up buying two things. First was this baby plate with hounds running on it. I’m not sure why I wanted it so bad but I did, and it was only $20.
The second item was this set of baby plates that I really loved. Shockingly, Adam also really loved these.
What Erin explained about this auctioneer is true. This experience really just made me not want to go to his auctions again. We had a surprise run-in with him the following week, though, which we will tell you about soon!
You Get Nothing
Zach found a random box in one of our closets that said “ebay stuff” on it. It was a bunch of paper items I got at a sale over a year ago and never put on ebay. Included in all of the stuff was a huge stack of letters.
I haven’t taken the time yet to read through all of these, but one letter did stand out. It was addressed to good ol’ Santa Claus.
I was so excited to open the letter and read what one child of yesteryear was wishing for that Christmas so long ago. I unfolded the letter and found this:
Seriously, it looks like the Zodiac killer himself wrote this. And unless there is some sort of secret Santa language that I don’t know about, this child got NOTHING for Christmas.
Poor Harriet Robbe, you failed at Christmas.
Holy moly! This is a late update!
On my birthday (end of August), Adam and I stopped at a book & treasure store in Ann Arbor, located in what’s called “Kerrytown.” He actually wanted to go inside and I did not, because I had a vague memory of having a semi-bad experience at this place in the past. But the store is my kind of place—a huge space filled from floor to ceiling with books, paper, and collectibles, so I agreed to go.
The guy who runs this place is my kinda guy—besides old books, he has TONS of old postcards, greeting cards, and stereoviews.
Check out that creeper.
These are all semi-organized in card catalogs throughout the store. I started really getting excited because I found whole drawers of Christmas postcards…
(Note—this was the day after Erin and I got manicures for my birthday. Check out those nails!)
…but then I started noticing the prices located on the backside. Each of these awesome postcards cost between $15 and $40. What the heck?!
Amid the adorable postcards, I also found some hilarious and scary ones.
If that’s what Santa looks like, I’m not sure I want him coming down my chimney.
Have you ever seen a kid so scared to hear Santa? That dog sure is excited, though.
In the end, I did buy a few postcards and greeting cards—the ones I selected were between $3 and $5 each.
I went to check out, and when I was doing so, the store owner started chit chatting with me, asking if I saw all the other postcards. I told him that I did see them, but that they were super overpriced. He started lecturing me on rarity and how you determine the value of something—like I was a total dummy. Then I immediately remembered why I didn’t want to go in the store in the first place. The guy was so condescending and thought everything was worth a billion dollars! Many things in the store had tags like this:
One of his favorite words was “scarce”.
I told him that I knew they were valuable, but I’m not sure they were worth THAT much… I think in the process of talking to me, he realized that I was not a total idiot, since I do collect paper. So then he insisted that I look at a special box he had behind the counter of his most prized postcards. I went along with it because Adam was giving me The Look (he wanted a good story), but really, some of the postcards in the drawers were way cooler than the ones in his special box.
Then I happened to mention that I collect photographs so he insisted that I look at these groups of photos he had. Well, it turns out he had a whole envelope filled with people and their pets, so I was actually pretty excited. Here’s what I bought:
Sorry for the darkness/quality—I took those pictures in my dark living room.
The big prize was this cabinet card:
It was marked a hefty $16 but I really wanted it.
I brought up my second round of treasures to the checkout desk and he seemed very impressed with my selections. Then he took one look at that cabinet card and said, “This is a $30 photograph.” I said “NO WAY DUDE.” Those words exactly. He said “Oh no I’m going to honor the price on the back but I want you to know this is a very rare, valuable photograph.”
But then things changed. He started telling me about his dogs. If you know me at all, you know that all you have to do is talk about an old dog around me and I fall apart. He went on to point out the freakin’ professional photo/glamourshots he had of his three pugs hanging on the walls. There is so much crap in this place, I hadn’t noticed them until then. He then told us the story of Taz, his oldest pug (16), who he had to put down this year. He and his wife do community theater, and when they took him to the vet, it was Valentine’s Day. He sang “My Funny Valentine” to his 16 year old pug, as the vet euthanized poor little Taz. Oh my gosh.
As he told us the story, he got a little teary, and I could not help but end up liking this guy. I think he must just be really attached to all of the things in his store. The high prices seem to be a way to allow him to keep holding on to all of it. He asked me to send him a photograph of the cabinet cards, and I haven’t yet. I should go do this now.
Fave Finds: Walrus Chef & Baby Clothes
Sarah and I are working on some longer entries about our recent adventures, but in the meantime, let me share some new fave finds with you guys.
My sister and I visited the Romeo Peach Festival a few weeks ago. We’ve been going to this since we were children, and every year we always swear it is the last time we will go. You see, the Romeo Peach Festival is a really good place for people (not me) to buy Confederate Flag t-shirts and marshmallow shooting guns. It is no longer a good place to buy antiques or high quality crafts.
To be fair, my sister and I went because we were on a mission to find these peach cookies we had two years ago, which then disappeared off the planet. Turns out that these cookies aren’t even part of the Peach Festival, but come from a grocery store just outside of town. We found them living in their peach cookie heaven, and proceeded to buy about 26 boxes each:
Just kidding, we each only bought 1 box each, and then I b*tched the whole way home about how I was an idiot for not buying more.
Ok, so besides the cookies, I did miraculously find one good treasure at the Peach Festival. Two guys were selling random junk in a booth and I came across this old ceramic walrus bank:
I KNOW, RIGHT?! That is the cutest chef walrus you have ever done seen. I bought him for $5 and put him in the last available space next to my kitchen scale collection.
OK, so another recent fave find came from the totally random thrift store trip that Sarah and I took a few weeks ago. You might remember that I snagged a ton of baby clothes, but the best by far was this vintage baby sweater:
What is so perfect about this is that we are naming the baby Everett, so the E’s on the sweater actually make sense. Baby E is going to be stylin’ and profilin’ for sure.
The last fave find is also for future baby and I found it at the Ferndale DIY Fair. There was a booth selling all vintage clothes and knick-knacks called Octopus Pie Studios. I found this sweater and pants set featuring whales and sailboats. Sarah contends it is for a baby girl, but I refuse to believe that.
It might be kind of itchy to wear, but that is the price of dressing so fly.
If you have any “fave finds” you can share them on our Facebook page. Post a pic and tell us where you found your treasure.
Hard to Resist: Everything (Second Edition)
Well, this wasn’t exactly a shock, since it’s happened before. But this past Monday, the secret auction was a real let down.
Now, we already covered how there was at least one treasure there that I accidentally laughed at (because I’m DUMB), but the rest seemed legitimately pretty bad.
At first, it psyched me out. First, the parking lot was PACKED. Then, I saw this sign when I walked in—super cool and old and psychedelic looking.
I was totally prepared for to turn the corner and see Kevin Arnold offering Winnie a soda.
But it didn’t happen.
Also this turned out to be the coolest thing there. Unless you are interested in the following:
1). Two-Liter Lazy Susans
2). These cats
3). Tons of old phones.
3). This super sexy frog.
4). These bracelets.
6). “Photoing on Car”
Now let me explain this one. Here is a better picture from the Internet:
I looked at this and thought it seemed unique and it turns out that these do sell on eBay for a range—some for $40+, other older versions for $100+. But the reason that this was so hard to resist is…
That lady done lost her head.
I thought this was so funny that I actually dragged my mom over and showed her. I think you can still sell these for parts, but STILL.
Missed Opportunity: “The Little People”
At the secret auction on Monday, I spotted this janky looking fake Cabbage Patch Doll.
"Ha Ha," I chuckled to myself, thinking about how broke a$$ and fake that baby looked. I even showed one of my friends later that night. We laughed and laughed!
Well, it turns out that “The Little People” were Xavier Roberts’ first iteration of cabbage patch kids. You can read more about them here, but the joke ended up being on me.
I’m not sure how much it sold for because we left the auction super early that night. More on why tomorrow. I know the one at the auction looks a little dirty, but it was really just dusty—it looked like someone unearthed it in a house that had been closed off for 30 years. Which is entirely possible.
When Repros are a Go
I’ve always been a huge complainer about vintage reproductions. There are few things more frustrating at an estate sale than a seller trying to convince you something is truly antique, even though it has Philips head screws and the freshest paint you’ve ever seen. And don’t get me started on the phenomenon of “primitives” that have overtaken every antique mall.
Anyway, I learned recently that there is a time and place for reproductions. Especially when it will save you some cash and give you a huge boost in your holiday decorating.
Case in point: A few weeks ago, Zach and I received the latest Vermont Country Store catalog. This catalog is pretty much the best because you can order Christmas onesie pajamas and things like this:
You can also order great vintage reproductions. Zach called (yes, you still have to CALL to order) and bought us the following two things:
A Halloween light up blow mold and some Gurley style candles.
Now here is why I approve of these repros:
Every time I find an old Halloween blow mold at an estate sale or antique store, the cords look like 26 different cats chewed on them. Or the lights inside are burnt out. Or they are priced around $40. I have never found a true vintage blow mold worth buying (except for a Santa face that ended up having a short in the cord). This Vermont Country Store version cost $16 and will last for years.
Speaking of lasting for years, true vintage Gurley candles do not. When I come across them at sales they are dented, smushed, half-burnt, or have lint stuck all over them. They can also be crazy expensive. Seriously, like SO CRAZY EXPENSIVE considering these are candles!
The ones we purchased from Vermont Country store are nice and clean and cost $20. Still a little pricey, but worth the splurge for a good vintage look.
I might even buy these Thanksgiving ones next:
All of this thinking about repros made me realize that one of my most coveted antique items might best be purchased new. Remember how obsessed I am with those old paper mache Halloween pumpkins? Seriously, these things have evaded me for years now. First, they are so hard to find (at least for me). And they are obnoxiously pricey:
Plus, most of these pumpkins are in bad shape considering what they are made of. And almost all of them are missing their paper inserts that give them spooky eyes and mouths.
Perhaps one day I will find one in good shape and at a good price, but in the meantime, why not buy a reproduction version? There are plenty of good ones out there.
Only $22 and this will look adorable on my mantle for Halloween. And if my cats chew on it I will be less sad.
So maybe repros aren’t all bad. They certainly have their place. So tell us, do you buy reproductions or do you find them oh-so-offensive?
Update: OK, heads up. You don’t have to order over the phone. Sarah was sure to inform me:
I was recently looking around on the ol’ Bay for some more pixie figurines and girls talking on the phone figurines, and accidentally stumbled upon these. I actually only saw the first pair at the top, but for some reason really liked them and decided to watch them on eBay. They were just so late ’70s/early ’80s, and I fell in love and decided to buy them for a mere $13. The 5th picture is a picture of them in their new home on my bookshelf. Aren’t they cute?!
It wasn’t until after I bought them that I realized they were made from Holland Molds, and that there were probably many others like them for sale on eBay. I was right!
If you’re unfamiliar with Holland Molds, they were a company that made ceramic molds for people to craft at home, and because of this, people were very creative in painting them. My personal faves are the ones where someone actually glued fake hair to them! Runner up is the boy with eyeliner.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the sample of stylings above.