AT Inbox: True ‘Pickers’ practically sell the shirt off their back

I always enjoy reading the Antique Trader, having been in the antique business for more than 35 years. I’m not an active dealer now, but I still look and buy things of a special nature. Like so many other dealers, I’ve got stuff to move out. My purchases in general were made all over New England and I found many of my best buys in Maine. Believe it or not, somehow your Feb. 24, 2010, issue got put in a pile and I’ve just read it.

I’ve watched the “American Pickers” show; it’s interesting seeing old things. However, the show itself does little for me. It’s just another make believe reality show. In my many years in the business, one who was out looking for pieces to resell was not a “picker.” He was a “dealer.” A picker in my experience was someone very different. You would go to the picker’s home and everything they had there was for sale. And I mean everything: all the furniture they sat on, slept on and everything else. They were pickers and I was a dealer. I’ve known at least a dozen pickers located primarily in Maine.

Being a dealer, when in the buying process, I would absolutely not point out interesting facts about a piece and then make an offer in the same manner as these “make believe buyers.” This is not reality! The object in this business is to buy as cheap as you can and sell at the highest price! Negotiating with buyers at shows I participated in, all over New England, was part of the fun of the business – at least for me. I was told at one show by a buyer that “dealing with me was like dealing with an Arab!”

Also in my experience I’ve never seen any individual who had the knowledge or experience to know a lot about every type of antique they see. That’s not reality! I’m certain I’ve overlooked a number of good pieces – but that’s life. If I purchased glassware for example that I thought was a good buy I would always take same to a friend who would give me the true value. My expertise was in primitives, toys, very old kitchenware and old furniture.

Can you imagine, two guys, just driving around to no place with a third person taking videos and then just happening to stop at someone’s home and find a few things to put in their van? Their daddies must be still paying for their gas, food and shelter. That is not the way you run a business in the antique market. In reality, that isn’t going to happen as these two guys portray life in the antique world. Thank God they’re getting some money from the History Channel.

Russell Smith
Hopedale, Mass.

Reader identifies Hertwig doll

I am thrilled beyond words to receive the June 23, 2010, issue of Antique Trader because on page 10 is a picture of my Hertwig doll (see Speaking of Dolls by Sherry Minton)!
Page 48 is the best image. When I was a little girl my mother placed a little doll in my hand and said “keep this for me.” She didn’t tell me where she got it or how long she had it – I thought her mother or the sister she thought so much of gave it to her. She passed away a short time later.

Anyway, the one I have has the number “6” on her shoulder. Does that mean she is one of the first made in 1864?  I am enclosing a picture so you can see she is a Hertwig. 

Thank you so much for making my day. I have tried for 61 years to find out about her and now I know.

Dollie Griffith
Cleveland, Tenn.

Coke collector kept Hoover Dam Coca-Cola commemorative

I am attaching a file that may be of interest to fans of Coca-Cola bottles (see the July 21, 2010, issue of Antique Trader).  The Hoover Dam bottles had a unique thinner-than-normal swirl (see attached text).  I feel quite sure that there are many Coke collectors who are unaware of the edition and the uniqueness of this particular bottle. Each bottle was enclosed in a cardboard container printed with pictures of the dam. A set of three set side by side would give you the complete picture of the dam.

At the time of issue, I bought two sets, which have set in the dark of a closet ever since and never displayed. (I already had too many other things taking up space and producing dusting challenges.)

I have no idea what the current value might be but if there are collectors interested, I have at least one set that I would let go.

In all of my other collecting experience, I have learned that knowledge is king. I am curious to know if author Mark Bennett knew about the unique swirl on this commemorative set of bottles.

Charles E McManis
Las Vegas


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