AT Inbox: Collectors aren’t thieves

Collectors aren’t thieves; cities replace vet’s markers

I am writing in response to the letter from Joel Shadden (Aug. 4 issue).

I hope no one rushes out and steals the iron grave markers. I am especially interested in those Veteran temporary iron markers for Vets from the Civil War to Korea. But I would like to offer a different idea on this topic.

In recent years cemetery owners, custodians, city and county governments and private owners have taken the approach that the cemeteries need better care.

They want to mow, water and trim these places and have approached this by removing “above ground” markers and replacing them with plaques that are low enough to be easily mowed over. When they renovate these cemeteries it is the owners/custodians who do away with the iron markers.

I’ve seen it happen several times. Once an enterprising friend of mine rescued dozens of these markers from the city dump.

I enjoy the show ‘American Pickers’ even though it does have some controversial elements. Some would identify me as a militaria picker and that does hit home.

The show presents a view of the antique/second hand business that many people have not thought about.

Jake Glickman
Big Spring, Texas

Major postcard, advertising gifts bring joy to Florida communities

Our small city of Bradenton, Fla., has two unusual collections on permanent display. One of 1,300 local postcards shown by date and area at the County Record Library.

Last year these cards were used on much county publicity and are now used to mark a historic tour of the area in beautiful 4-foot by 4-foot laminated posters called “The Discovery Trail.”

Only two blocks away the Manatee Village Historical Park has a 1,500-item display of advertising material — again well displayed.

The two displays are the gift of 90 year old Herbert Loomis, a retired United Methodist minister.

Both museum curators say the material is much used by students, realtors and history buffs.

Herb Loomis
Bradenton, Fla.

Will ‘American Pickers’ promote grave robbers?

Of course, the History Channel has resorted to boosting its ratings with “American Pickers” and “Pawn Stars, “Ax Men,” and other so called “reality” shows since their purchase by A&E.

I’ve enjoyed “American Pickers” for the most part until now, since I’ve done my share of picking but in a more specialized field. I’ve felt, like most reality shows, it is pretty much staged. This week’s new episode though crossed the line with them showing a flip with a near 200 percent profit on what they called a 19th century cast iron burial marker.

When a similar item was presented on Antiques Roadshow they did the proper thing and appraised it at zero value and admonished the person possessing the item to track down the proper family and/or burial site. On this show they leave you with the impression that they will get a near 200 percent profit from $235 to $600-$700 on a burial marker with no caveats about trading in an unethical and in some states illegal item. 

This show can be viewed online here:

With this suggestion to the world that there is collectible value in these markers and no mention of any downside to selling this type of item, I feel that they have left the wrong impression to the bad elements of our society that there is money to be had in graveyards. 

A debate in the History Channel’s own forum can be found here: but keep in mind that many of those posters are just blind fans to the show and its cast. There are two completely different posts that claim they have heard from one of the show’s stars, Mike Wolfe, but they are completely different answers.

Wolfe’s own website is titled “American Archaeology” of all things, so this would suggest he would have an interest in preserving history rather than contribute to its destruction. The only links I can find on the site for contacting him by an individual is if you want to sell him something or appear on the show. He does have a page linking to a publicist to speak to the press and that is the reason for this letter to the editor. That page is at (

The only contact info I can find for the History Channel is for buying their swag or a link to the parent site for A&E at and all of the “Contact Us” information there seems to be related to job seekers.

I think all antiques and collectibles dealers have a vested interest in not being considered a party to the desecration of cultural history – especially related to this irresponsible presentation of potential profit in looted graves of our ancestors without consequences.


Joel Shadden, via e-mail ?

Buyer’s premiums are OK to keep auction houses in business

As long as it is 10 percent or less I generally don’t mind the buyer’s premium. 

The local family owned auction I go to has lost money the last six auctions. I want them to stay around so it is the cost of doing business and having them there for our convenience. 

It is a lot of work to hold an auction.  I am a dealer and am no way associated with any auction house or company.

People come in our store and complain that there are not a lot of antique stores anymore. We are stores, not museums. I want to say: “Buy something to keep us in business.”

I look at it the same way with the auctions: Buy something, pay a litte extra to help keep them in business for our convenience.

Terri, via the Antique Trader Blog


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