AT Inbox: Liquidation mistakes, worthless to works of art, and more

Liquidation mistakes

Yes we made the mistake of letting the extended family have a few things from our family estate.

They were smarter than us on the quilts and took the very best of the old quilts. “Oh I would like to have this quilt to remember the times we came to visit and spent the night under these quilts.” We later found it at an antique mall with a steep price on it.

A nephew took most of the old cast iron because he liked that old stuff. Now we know the prices of those old cast-iron pots and pans. One uncle that owned a large truck was nice enough to haul off all the contents of the old blacksmith shop to get that old heavy stuff out of the way. We lost more to good friends and relatives than to the less than honest man who did our estate sale. He priced certain items for his buddies to get at dirt-cheap prices and then charged us 35 percent for his very limited services.

I think we should have had an estate auction or put the bigger items on consignment.

We learn by our mistakes. 

– Mike

Where to sell antiques

I had wonderful results in El Paso, Texas, with a professional estate sale specialist. The owner of the service brought in two men to set up, move my furniture to the garage and do the hard work on the first day. On the second day, she brought in two ladies to tag all the items, an accumulation of 30 years of collecting, mostly glass and porcelain, very little furniture.

However, Cyndi Lou, the owner, priced all items – even pricing them above what I would have asked. The two-day sale produced over $25,000. Yes, my items were nice, but I did incredibly well and they came back Monday and put my things back in place.

In years past, I have tried consignment shops, garage sales, auctions and antique shop consignments to dispose of a 450-piece collection of Roseville and never had the great results that I had at my estate sale. I know myself – and I will start over with my collecting again. And once again, I will go the estate sale route.


Deborah Ryden

Olympic memories

I suspect you’ve been flooded with e-mail regarding the location of the 1960 winter games – Squaw Valley, Calif. (not Idaho).

This was my one and only Olympic venture (on locale, watching only). A friend and I left Porterville, Calif., one Friday afternoon, reached the Olympics grounds that evening. Not being able to afford fancy accommodations, we threw our sleeping bags in the snow bank and bunked down for the night. We arose early the next morning, sneaked into the events area before any guards arrived, and watched the exciting activities for two days. Security was quite lax in those days.

Souvenirs acquired were a hockey puck and hockey stick from one of the Russian games on Sunday and cuff links and tie tack. Alas, it was then time to head for home and work Monday morning.

– Charles Fishburn

Editor’s Note: We incorrectly listed Squaw Valley’s location in the Aug. 13, 2008, issue. Antique Trader apologizes for any inconvenience.

From worthless to works of art

Greetings from the California San Joaquin Valley,

I read with interest and such a feeling of affinity to your friend “Anne” your article about value. I am a collector, hoarder and obsessive/compulsive type person and have many items that fit your description.

I “retired” from the corporate world in 2003 and have started organizing and downsizing my stash and have the most difficult times disposing of what I know are “worthless” items to anyone but me. After much agonizing, however, I have been able to incorporate some of these treasures into memory albums and recently began placing them into “altered” books.

It is amazing how a small key to a diary I had in 1968 can become a charming and valuable inclusion on a page in an altered book, with a small ribbon tied through it and pages from the actual diary used as background. Glitter and paint and cut-outs from old magazines, a few ticket stubs from concerts of long ago and these items become little works of art.

There are always those articles that I simply cannot part with, alter or destroy by using them in this way. The pressed, dried flowers and ribbons from my first corsage as a teen. The keys and real estate tag from our first home. These quite worthless things return to their hiding places in old cigar boxes along with their links to my past. And perhaps in years to come someone else will buy at a tag sale my treasures, find them lovely simply because they are “old,” and take them away to begin their own collection.

Peggy Friesen
Dealer #11, Antique Avenue
Manteca, California

Memories from mom and dad

 I have two items that probably have value, but are priceless to me. One is a brass clock retrieved from a ship my father served on during WWII. The ship was sunk in bomb testing after the war. This is my connection to him, now deceased, and his 30 year military career.

The second is a tiny leather covered dictionary printed in Germany that was my mother’s. She acquired it from her father. Mother is 96 now, and suffers with Alzheimers, but she remembers the dictionary, although not where she got it.

Ethel Geary

Be careful, eBay


I have read a lot in your publication in the last six months about eBay. I don’t agree with all of the changes eBay has  made. BUT, the one that really raises my blood pressure is the fact that you cannot leave negative feedback. There is no way to get justice without negative feedback. A buyer can leave any feedback they want without worry of retaliation. Not a smart move.

I have been on eBay for eleven years with a 100 percent feedback rating. I have bought, I have sold. Auction sites are popping up everywhere. The big boy (eBay) should be careful, a fall from grace could happen.

David A. Yetman
Temple, New Hampshire

Priceless cookie jar


My grandmother had a tall round covered metal tin that was “the cookie jar”. It was painted white with a flower decal and it was always full, usually with an anise flavored cookie.  With 3 sons, their wives and 10 grandchildren, that wasn’t an easy feat.

When she broke up housekeeping I asked for the cookie jar and got it. When grandma passed away at 100, I took it to the florist and had it filled with flowers for the funeral home. It’s priceless to me.


Nancy Gebauer

Mom’s panther comes home

Hello again, Robyn,

I have two houses full of stuff. Most of it I inherited.  When I think about the hunt, I have to ask myself, “Where oh where could I put this?” So, I made a deal with myself to seek only items that would replace lost or broken family heirlooms.

In some cases I have photos of those items but usually I have to rely on memory – very dangerous!!! But I have to say that when I do find an item identical to one I thought lost forever, it is such a thrill. It’s as if I have found a lost family member.

When I was a mere tyke, my mother had a lovely ceramic panther – very popular in the 50s. Though I do not actually remember breaking it, my mother never let me forget it.

Years after she had died I realized that I could search for one on the Internet. There were photos of the original but only in the background. So, I found one that came as close as I thought I would ever get and bought it and it sits quite happily on the same coffee table as it did when I was a child. I’d like to think Mom is pleased.

Karen Loparco