Missed it by that much: Shop promises ‘hold’ but dealer sells rare sign anyway

The morning of Jan. 9, I should have been on my way to a local (if you call a 50-mile drive “local”) antique mall to pick up my husband’s birthday present — a lovely Knapstein Brewery Red Band beer advertising sign. It was a thing of beauty: the ad showed what looked to be a beautiful pre-Prohibition tin sign with an attractive, clear and bright image.

I saw it on the morning of Jan. 7 in an advertisement. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it. It would be the perfect, once-in-a-lifetime birthday surprise for my husband. I called the antique mall a half hour after they opened and described the piece  I had seen in the ad: the item, the dealer, and where I had seen it. I told them I could be there first thing Saturday morning to pick it up. They said they would put a hold on it.


I was so excited. My only worry was if I could keep it a secret for two months. My daughter couldn’t know, or she would spill the beans, so I arranged for a babysitter so I could run this “errand” by myself. Then all I had to do was worry about keeping my own teeth together. I wasn’t even going to tell any of the family. The only people who would know would be Eric, your humble Antique Trader editor who had spotted the ad and told me about it, and me.

Friday evening rolled around and my best-laid plans came tumbling around my ears.

I got home at 6:30 p.m. to find a message on my answering machine from the antique mall. The dealer was offered more than the price listed in the advertisement and … it was sold. The message was left at 3:20 p.m.

To say I was – am – disappointed is an incredible understatement.

I thought, “How could this happen! I had a ‘hold’!”

I was not given the chance to match the offered price. I would have. I was not given the chance to better the price. I would have.

If they had said the only way they could hold it until I could pick it up on Saturday would be with immediate payment, I would have whipped out my credit card.
The message said the dealer was offered a higher price and they took it. If I had any questions I could call them back.

I called the antique mall Monday morning, Jan. 11, and spoke with staffers there to get the turn of events. They assured me, “This is the first time  this has ever happened.”
In sum, I called and got a “hold” on the tin. Someone else called and offered “quite a bit” more money. They called the dealer, and the dealer told the antique mall employee to take the offer. Period.

In my mind, a different course of events could have, and should have, taken place; however, the antiques dealer determined the outcome. I hold no ill will toward the antique mall or their staff. I know whoever purchased the tin will love it every bit as much as we almost did. But, oh, it would have made such a beautiful addition to our Knapstein Brewery collection

I’ve learned a valuable lesson. Next time, regardless of a raging blizzard and pressing workload, I’ll make the trip immediately! (Read into this: Advertising motivates, people!)

Ultimately, it is the dealer who missed out on a lucrative opportunity: They could have been the beneficiary of a private bidding war from two passionately motivated buyers.

Karen Knapstein is online editor for AntiqueTrader.com. A lifelong collector and student of antiques, she lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Joe, and daughter, Faye. She can be reached at karen.knapstein@fwmedia.com.


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