Antiques can be a labor of love

Justin Peddycoart’s column on page 10 of this week’s Antique Trader is an interesting example of one man’s quest to become his own “American picker.”

Peddycoart writes about how a six-month experiment to generate his $800 rent payment strictly through buying and selling antiques and collectibles found at thrift stores. He writes, comically, of the trials and errors and lessons learned and sums it up with the biggest lesson he learned: Sure it was tough, but the thrill of finding something cheap and selling it for more is ‘the best feeling in the world.’  [CLICK HERE to read the article.]

That’s one of the reason’s why HISTORY’s new show American Pickers is enjoying its success. We get to watch someone find valuable things. What gives the show its controversy is something the greater public may be taking for granted.

Thanks to the explosion of antiques related media in the last decade (eBay, PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, trade papers disseminating free articles online) the collecting public and the average gawker is more educated than they’ve ever been. More people now know the value of their antiques and collectibles, which, in turn, can make it more difficult for the average dealer to make purchases that deliver a living wage.

Granted, it was hard to watch the first episode of American Pickers – in which the dealers walked away with a trove of finds for pennies on the dollar – future episodes show a more normal day-to-day existence for the average antiques dealer.

[CLICK HERE to read Antique Trader's feature on American Pickers]

[CLICK HERE to read the first batch of reader responses to our question of the week: "Do you think 'American Pickers' helps or hurts the antiques business?"]

It made the antiques business seem much easier than it is. Just ask Peddycoart. Although he said ‘thrifting’ for his rent was fun, he admits it is very difficult work.

One last similarity between Peddycoart’s experience and American Pickers is their self reliance. Peddycoart says he now lives with a peace of mind that if ever in a pinch for funds, he can turn to buying and selling to make ends meet.

I’d encourage you to share it with a young person in your life.

Speaking of Antiques Roadshow: The show’s producer, WGBH Boston, is holding an open call allowing amateur and independent filmmakers to submit a short film about an antique or family heirloom that holds some significant resonance to them.

This is a great opportunity for serious filmmakers interested in gaining exposure as final shorts could potentially be broadcast on WGBH and PBS stations around the country. Entries must be no longer than two minutes and can be submitted until June 1 through www.wgbh.org/lab.

Three winners will be rewarded with a pair of tickets to a live taping this summer.

—  Eric Bradley

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