A chancer with a fondness for small wooden things and decent threads sets out to make his fortune in the world of antique dealing.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Backlog

Phwoar, has it really been nigh on a year since I did a thing here? Soz and 'pols.

In that time, I've amassed a great deal of what more conscious and organised wheeler-dealers would call 'dead stock'. Despite scaling back my purchases, there's still a whole load of bumph in my bedroom that's taking up space. It's sitting there in a small collection of squat cardboard boxes and looks accusingly at me whenever I walk past (or try to get into the wardrobe).

There's all manner of bits in there, some of which I can't shift and some of which I almost can't bring myself to auction because I'll definitely make a minor but stinging loss. Don't think I'm not talking about you, James Bond Moonraker cards...or Nigel Quashie signed boots. You are my unadopted children. I'm taking a deep yoga breath in preparation to sell all these wee bastards off cheap, just to get them out of the flat. More importantly, it'll allow me to tidy up my spreadsheet.

Oh yeah, it's all going into a spreadsheet. Horribly mucky it is right now, as well. It looks as untidy as the foot of my bed; all strewn with red cells and glaring blank boxes. The incompleteness of the whole enterprise is nagging at me. It seems that the lesson I'm supposed to learn about this situation is that it's best to just cut your losses and recoup a few pennies. In exchange, you get a small pot of funds to sling on the pile and can potter onwards with your pockets jingling.

Anyway, enough of this emotional foot-dragging. I'll shift the lot somehow. Here's a run-down of what I've actually managed to sell during the barren stretch:

Another Damn Lampshade!

You know when you make a small mistake, and then as a result you learn a lesson, and are humble for a short moment... but then you realise that it wasn't a mistake and you wonder whether you're still supposed to take the lesson on board?

Sorry about the arty framing
Glistening with profit
Bugger on the left you may remember. Bought for 20p and shifted for £2. Modest. But it's all about the profit margins! Whopping great after-tax (ebay) take-home packet of £1.44 yes please.

Bugger on the right, however, was the classic tricky sequel. With the profitability of 1930s marbled glass lampshades ringing in my ears, I snapped it up for £3. That's more, of course, than I sold the other one for. I just thought that it had a wider appeal, or something. Right? The previous one had to be shamefully food-dressed with olive oil in order to make it look shiny, but this new one had a quiet, unassuming inner glow even without a lightbulb in it. But no. Put it on ebay, nobody bit.

Having reflected on my lesson here - buy low, Ben! Buy low - I eventually got around to listing it, solemnly accepting that I was to make a small loss. Then, with a low starting price, fools bit! Ended up with £2 profit. I'll put it in the 'lucky escape' drawer. Didn't even have to smother it in oil.

Bought: £3
Sold: £6.05
Profit: £2.10 (££)

Yu-Gi-Oh Cards

Any idea where these jobbies came in the grand scheme of things? When I was a kid it was like:

Magic: The Gathering > Pokemon > Digimon > Who cares?

These must have come during the latter phase. Ach, they're just terrible. At least Magic cards had/have some kind of theme to them, and Pokemon have some bonkers little monsters. These Yu-Gi-Oh turds are just a hopeless mismatch of everything.

The reason I know this is that I not only had to go through the whole tinful and count them (358 in total... although...yeah it was kind of a different number each time I counted, so I just settled for an average), but once they were thrown up into the harsh limelight of ebay, I had to search through great swathes of them in order to find specific cards with stupid names.

  • "Hi there are there any 'endymion' or 'magical exemplar' cards in this lot, and if so which ones?" (There weren't! Having a thick seam of geek running through me, I felt like I'd been dealt a shitty hand. Why hadn't I got any good cards?)
  • "Hi I am also interested in this i was wondering if it included elemental heroes not neos ones just elemental hero e.g elemental hero avian,elemental hero burstinatrix" (Felt puffed out just reading this one. I didn't mind havig a search through though; was curious to see what a Burstinatrix looks like. I had one as well!)
  • "Hi, could you tell me what the 5 best cards are in this set?" (Buggered if I knew.)
After sifting through another four or five questions from sweaty week gents across the UK, bidding began in earnest. I'd scooped them up at the Ketch car boot sale in Worcester for £4 on the assumption that there were enough cards in the tin to make it a bargain. Plus the tin had a cool see-through bit in the lid. Check it:

That's a pretty lame robot
In the end, the sweaty little chaps parped out enough bids to see it go for £10.90. Thanks, kids! Hope you enjoy your wossname wossname super-kingh endymion something card. I even put the supposedly valuable cards in little plastic sleeves as well. They're out there winning games of Yu-Gi-Oh in stinky lunchtime classrooms right this minute. Hope they play for keeps.

Bought: £4
Sold: £10.90
Profit: £5.61 (£££)

Subbuteo, suckers!

During the most fallow period of my Finder fortunes, when I'd not been to a boot sale in months and was all amid a number of different projects, a text arrived from my friend Matt. He'd found a motherlode of Subbuteo stuff in a charity shop in East Oxford and was looking for the go-ahead to close the deal.

I getting you these faahkin' toys or what?
Despite being in temporary retirement at this point, I couldn't resist a bargin, I tell you! Tiny pictures of the trove started to pop up on my archaic phone, and I was hooked on the deal (even after realising that much of the stack was just itself reflected in some glass). We struck it, and bagged up the load for £25.

There was all manner of kit in there. About seven boxed teams, a couple more teams in little plastic bags, some goals, some terraces, some fencing (!), and a big pool of assorted players and paraphenalia. A big part of me wanted to avoid having this all hanging around on my sitting room floor by just sticking it on auction for £30 and being done with it, but the profit-hunter in me wouldn't countenance it.

So I'm splitting the whole lot up and selling it separately. So far, I've shifted the following stock:

Fencing - £3.99
Terracing - £7.16

World Cup Goals - £5.00
A good chunk of the outlay has tossed soap and water on its mug, then. Only another tenner to cover and we're up in the foothills of Mt Profitcash. I'll most likely flog the team sets off individually and then heave the rest of the picky bits out in one job lot. However, there's one last minor hope amid the margins. It's these chaps:

All ready to have their hearts broken by Maradona

Yeah, that's right, it's the Germany 1986 World Cup squad. There's little Harald Schumacher there, and little Rudi Voeller front and centre, and two big slapheads either end of the second rank - Hoeness and Rummenigge. The models that these guys are based on all came in a plastic bag with a tiny little hand-written note saying what they were. But as with most Subbuteo teams, they were all identical to one another, with white skin and brown hair. I thought that a team based on this famous squad, with all of the players actually looking like themselves might be appealing to whoever's still playing Subbuteo these days.

So I modelled their hairstyles and painted them all with the right hair colour (and skin tone, in the case of Felix Magath). It way pretty fun. Karlheinz Foerster's hair is a particular triumph, and Rummenigge's hairline is a masterpiece. Anyway, they're up on ebay now for £30 and nae bugger's touched 'em. At least they don't take up much space.

Bought: £25
Sold (thus far): £16.15

What's next for the Finder, then? Well look out for an update soon as I try to shift that big stack of stuff and do a big of taking stock. I'm plannnig to whip myself up into a big reckless frenzy and then just list everything for a quid each, see what happens. Expect my next post to be filled with regrets and lessons learned.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Bits and Bobs

Rock Lords Bags

Anyone remember Rock Lords? I think they were a spinoff of ... hang on, there's no excuse for not looking it up, is there? I'll look it up. Go-Bots, that's right. They were a Go-Bots spinoff. Anyone remember Go-Bots?

Here are some Rock Lords. I had the minty-green one and the grey one on the right. As you can see, they were Transformers who turned into really unconvincing stones. Rocks, sorry, rocks. There was a little gold nugget one as well, who was the coolest. Not pictured though, which is a bit of a snub.

Anyway, I've not found any of these. Sorry for building up what must have been quite an uncontrollable level of excitement or something. Instead, I found two of these badboys:

See what they did? I'll explain. What it is, is that a boulder is a large rock, you see, so when they say 'Robots that are Bolder', you have to look beyond the seemingly incomplete... oh you got it the first time and it wasn't that good? You should have just said.

So what I'm thinking here is that there are a whole tonne of semi-ironic geek chic kids out there who should go wild for this stuff. You can picture them, no? Yeah you can, I'm not going to generalize. What I've started to worry about recently though, is that kids these days don't have the heritage that those of my generation do. Try turning up at a fancy dress party full of people in their mid-20s dressed as Zangief. Blank. Looks. Still though, the whole of Ebay is a much larger sample size than a room full of culturally bereft halloweenies. The bags themselves are all bagged up in their own bags (infinite regress? I've not looked inside but yes, it's possible that the Rock Lords bag contains its own smaller bag...et cetera).

Bought these for £5 a pop, so not risk-free, but...shit...do kids even wear satchels any more? Is that a satchel? It's like an awful backpack.

Inlaid Soapstone Box

This is bread and butter. Saw it in a charity shop for £2.99, sold it for £3.99. Can't argue. Makes me feel like a professional. I think that describing it as 'lovely' on the Ebay description may have added that all important quid. Folks will presumably have been looking at it, studying the pictures, and thought 'well...I'd stretch to around the four quid mark, but only if it's lovely. I can't really tell from the pictures but...oh wait, it does confirm here at the top that it is definitely lovely. I'm in.'

To further convince dubious punters as to its loveliness, I gave it a polish with vegetable oil and photographed it on a tea towel. I'm a grubby sod at times.

Moonraker Trading Card Set

Say you were really into Bond, and collected Bond memorabilia, and Moonraker was your favourite film (you're one of those Moore-lovers, of a certain age), would you buy this? Would you spend more than £10 on it? God, I hope so. Ebay's not so sure. It's one of those things that you find, snap up, and then take home and show to Ebay, and Ebay's like 'yeah nice, should make a quid or two on that. Hope you didn't spend more than a fiver on it, mind'. Go on, I'll throw in the natty plastic box as well (I probably won't).

It's a full set, with all of the stickers, following Bond through one of his more outlandish shag-quests. All of the cards are in what speccy gnome-nuts cardophiles such as myself would describe as MT-NMT, which means 'mint or near-mint', which means they're in cracking nick. That's not bad, considering that they're about 35 years old.

There he is, look. Bond! He's going to shoot you if you're not careful. Plus, he's kept his left hand free. That's his catching hand, and he's going to catch your pants if they unexpectedly fly off. Bang bang. He's thinking of a quip, by the looks of it, so let's leave him to it.

Uh oh! We shouldn't have taken our eyes off him; he's in a scrape. 'A TIGHT SPOT FOR BOND', it seems. That's not the only tight spot...oh dear. Sorry. Well, even without his planned perm and set, it looks as though that guy at the back is going to get seen off, and then the poor woman next to him is going to get seen to. I wonder how many children (sons I mean, his sperm all have raised eyebrows and little guns. There's no way a character like 007 would ever be allowed to father a daughter apart from in the most gloriously obstinate fan-fiction) he's left littered around the world.
Anyway, we'll see about these. There may be a couple of cards in the set which are more valuable than others, in which case it might make sense to send them off to be quality-graded so that their value is... man, I'm sending myself to sleep. Anyway, more on that sort of thing in the next update, when hopefully we'll have a make-or break on those intractable bloody cigarette cards.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Another long overdue update, but I've been busy. The mantra has been 'stick to what you know'. As far as my mum's concerned, it really is a mantra. She never tires of reminding me. 'Stick to what you know, Ben'.

Now, I don't know much, but I have spent quite a long time playing with toys. In my youth! So, building on the success of last time out, I've been using this whole exercise as an excuse to invest in some action figures from my youth. I'll talk you through the whole grubby enterprise:
L-R: Hordak, Stinkor, Spikor, Rattlor, Your Mum.

He Man Figures
I swear to god, someone at work the other day hadn't heard of He Man, I almost euthanised myself. You remember this lot, right? I swept up an armful of them from the Help the Aged (or something) on St Clement's for 20p a pop. There would have been seven, but there were a couple of last-minute withdrawls from the squad due to injury. Whiplash had some conspicuous tail damage and the other Hordak had his gammy leg ripped off by my mate Ross in a moment of overconfident physiotherapy. Still, the remaining buggers would make a decent five-a-side team. I'd play Stinkor up front to unsettle defenders, Zodak and Spikor drifting in the middle, Rattlor at the back to soak up long balls (his head pops up when you press his tail!) and Hordak in goal, because you've got to have a 'keeper with a cloak.
Bought for: £1
Sold for  £12.50

Spiritual precursor to some pretty geeky shit.
Oi! Dat's my Leg!
I found this at a car boot sale, in great condition. All the bits and bobs were there, and it even still had the cassette of 'Trolly songs' that it came with. I've no idea why they included that, but I suppose if it gets wee tots into board games then it's for the good. I had to listen to the bloody thing just to check that its guts hadn't turned to dust. It was a racket.
Anyway, this was made by the much maligned Games Workshop, back in the day before they stepped up the geekery a few dozen notches and committed to more serious stuff. They made four such games, all themed around trolls and goblins, and aimed at youngsters. Then they realised that they could make their main line of models out of non-toxic metal and flog said kids Space Marines like everyone else. I had high hopes for this one, as a similar copy had gone for £20 on Ebay recently, but after hounding a couple of people who had it on their Boardgame Geek wishlists, I settled for a bit less.
Bought for: £2
Sold for: £9.99

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Figures
The foot soldiers and Splinter were also found at a car boot sale, this time at Eastbourne on a comic-making soujourn. We got up early in the morning after a late night at our friend Adam's wedding the night before, but it turns out it was worth it. A chap was selling them in bags for £1.25 a pop, and Ross and I took a punt. He ended up with that awful one with Donatello on a giant skateboard with a foot that pops out the front. It's now on display on his mantlepiece along with the rest of his motely toy collection. Shredder was cowering in the same basket as all the He Man suckas in the charity shop.
None of these guys have got all of their (admittedly shit) accessories, but they're all in good nick and the two big boys have got their respective cloak and robes. Plus Splinter's got his sword stick, which was the coolest thing about him. Turns out these are quite popular. I also bought a Baxter Stockman figure, but his fly wings were missing. He'll go into a 'mixed lot' of toys that I'm putting together to shift in one go (along with Whiplash). Anyway, they made a packet, and Shredder brought home nearly eight quid on his tod! Lad.
Bought for: £3.95
Sold for: £17.91

These Polly Pocket rip-offs did the business. Read on.
At the very same boot sale, I dug around in a box and found these. Remember them? Mighty Max? I had a snake one that I remember playing with for literally hours, back when I had an imagination and shitloads of free time. Anyway, it turned out that I was a Max and a caveman short. At a subsequent boot sale though, I found another box of stuff and, loading my hand to its absolute capacity, I asked the bloke if he'd take a quid for the lot. He agreed, no doubt impressed by my feat of grasping. The handful included said Max and also said caveman, and the rest is history. The short story is that these sets are now the second-highest-grossing thing I've picked up since starting The Finder. They are second only to those once-in-a-lifetime football cards, the shadow of which still hangs over this whole narrative.
Now, I've no idea why these made so much money. Individually, the sets weren't going for more than a few quid each. I think that the black one is a rarer version than the normal blue alien, and all of the sets are complete and in perfect condition so I suppose it was just a lucky combination.
Bought for: £4.25
Sold for: £44.53 (yes)

So what's the upshot? Well, as you can see, branching out into toys has brought some pretty earthquaking good fortune and no little cash. This puts my funds at about £125, which is pretty good considering that I've still got over £100 tied up in stuff that I've bought but can't sell.

Chiefs among these obstinate items are of course the four sets of ancient cigarette cards that I bought in a rush of idiocy and have discovered to be worth a great deal less than I paid for them. The good news is that I've found a guy in Eastbourne who might well buy them off me for a not-criminally-low price. So more news on that in a couple of months when I make it down there again.

Also sitting on funds and refusing to budge are these two bits:

A ball signed by the Wolverhampton Wanderers team of sometime around 2002-2004, and a pair of boots signed by Nigel Quashie when he was at West Brom. I paid £25 the pair, but despite listing them on Ebay twice, I've had no takers. Bit stuck for what to do with these, but I might have to tout them around some club-specific message boards and see if anyone's into it.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Well, after a medium-sized hiatus and still with the monkey of those confounded ciggy cards on my back, it's time for an update. I've finally made it along to a proper car boot sale and sold stuff that I found there. Not a raging success but a big step on the road to recovery nonetheless. Here's how it went.
The idea of a) buying quality and b)sticking with what you know was ignored when buying up that lot of what was, essentially, paper on my last outing. So, with this in mind, I ventured out with my available funds withered to £35 and was determined to follow the more feasible maxim, namely b).

I'm planning to try and shift my dumpy, recalcitrant stock (many items of which have alredy occupied ebay in several iterations) via a car-boot stall of my own soon, so I'll just whip through what I have managed to shift so far. There are two things in this category, of which the first is a) and the second is b).

The first was a brass box. A bit shabby but nowt a good polish couldn't solve. I gave it a good polish and it came out like this:
Nice, no? I thought so. The woman on the stall wanted £2 for it, so I said £1.50 and she says, no it's got to be £2. The reason for that was that it was 'heavy'. She was right. It had a good heft in my hand. So much so that among the pictures that I took of it for the ebay listing was a snap of it being held in said hand, in an attempt to visually convey said heft. As my bargain synapses fired, it occured to me that a heavy metal box is better than a light metal box in almost every context that I could imagine.

 Once I'd got it home and spruced it, I settled on the vague declaration that it was 'mid twentieth century' and stuck it up there. Some chap seized the bugger for £20 would you believe. This had led me to alter maxim a) to state that if you can't afford quality, buy something that looks like quality. Check out this close-up of the box lid.

See? The actual craftsmanship isn't going to re-write any history books, but if you half-close your eyes, it does look 'beautiful'. That's why I put 'beautiful' in the item title on Ebay. I also described it as a 'cigar box', because they're probably more collectible, and people like to be told what to do with boxes. I firmly believe that these two factors added a few chunky pounds to the price it fetched.
Bought for: £2
Profit after fees: £12.99
Verdict: beautiful Ebay craftsmanship

The second things that I went for have opened up an exciting new line in my embryonic specialisms. They tap into a deep psychic wound that most of us who have endured the misfortune of having grown up will share. I'm forever lamenting the decision to throw/give away or sell for peanuts my childhood toys. Who wouldn't? Some of them were quite good. In recent years, the refrain has moved subtly to include further regret upon realising how much those toys would fetch on today's market. This has stemmed of late from the prices that Monster in my Pocket figures can fetch. So I set out to look for some of those. What I found was this little bunch:

Eyy! It's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, a Foot Clan footsoldier, and Nelson Muntz. They were 20p each! I got them out of a big box of random toys. These boxes are gold dust if they're being sold by anyone over the age of 30 because it means they may well be selling toys of a similar age.

Now, Nelson there is from the third series of Simpsons toys. They came with a little hole in their heads where you could plug one of the speech bubbles that came with them. A baffling idea, that kids would rather choose from a set of prescribed phrases for their toys than come up with them themselves in an appropriate voice. Anyway, because he's without those speech bubble, and also the bin accessory that he also came with, he went for only 50p. That was a tiny bit heartbreaking because I was hoping he'd not be taken and that I could keep him. Nelson's my favourite character from The Simpsons and I wanted to put him on my desk next to Dr Octopus.

Also without his accessories was the foot soldier. Despite, or actually probably because of, the variety of bizarre creations in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line, the foot soldiers stood out as one of the more iconic creations in that line-up. They look awesome, like ninja zombie chimps, don't they? Well someone agreed with me, because they snapped this one up, accessories or none. He went for £2.42.

However, the finest of my televisual tie-in toy trove was old Mallows himself. He fetched a corpulent £10.50 would you believe? Even though he was still a bit grubby after I cleaned him and had suspect pink stains around his mouth. What a lad. That's a huge return on a 20p outlay.

Bought for: 60p
Profit after fees: £11.38
Verdict: Cowabunga/Turtle Power/Radical...etc.. 

 So this modest but devastatingly exciting success with the trophies of my youth has encouraged me to invest further. This morning I got out to another car boot and bought a pair of foot soldiers with their grabber stick accessories for £2.50, a Splinter figure with his cloak and sword stick for £1.25, and a bag of five Mighty Max mini-playsets for a fiver. Remember those? They were basically Polly Pocket: Man. I'll stick those up and see what they make. The car boot was in Eastbourne, where they seem to be really into their toys, because the aforementioned boxes of 20p toys were on every other stall. So, in the hope of one day getting back to the point where I might afford actual antiques to trade, the time being will be full of action figures and small but reliable profits. Just don't get me started on the search for a Pine Green series 1 Tengu figure.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

A Jaunt to the Big Time

Well, things remain bleak here. I'm still lumbered with these sodding cards, and despite getting an offer on the tennis ones, well I've gone and lost those. I live in a one-bedroom flat ferchrissakes, where could they have gotten to?

So, it came as a welcome escape a couple of weeks back, when I took myself off to Sloane Square for the British Antique Dealers' Association annual show. This is not the kind of trip that I would normally contemplate, but I was lucky enough to come by a ticket thanks to the generosity of a friend who works in these circles. It was too good to refuse.

Now, the whole thing was rather a contrast to my own poxy operation, as you can imagine. I wonder whether the best way to describe this kind of event is by describing its toilets. Let's find out:

[A supplanted washroom. Veneered boxes, into and out of which step impeccably groomed men and occasionally a ragged iconoclast. They groom themselves further and make declarations, along a row of basins and man-sized mirrors. Cups of unlit josticks attend them, in case of emergency. The urinals are just for show, until one receives an occasionally unfurling corduroy hose.]

So that's what it was like, see? In a lot of ways. I'm generalising of course, but the gents really were like that. Needless to say, neither did I buy nor sell anything, but here were my observations:

- There was some remarkable physiognomy on display. That's breeding for you. Some funny noises as well. Braying chuckles underscored by the light percussion of fingers tapping on calculator buttons.

- Okimono, on Laura Bordignon's stall. Bordignon specialises in these things, which are cousins to my beloved Netsuke, being small, 5-6" carved ivory statues. Mostly they depict people being startled by things (rats, spirits, children, their own foot...) but there are some other more placid scenes, such as this one:
Yeah, you guessed it, it's Hotei the god of wealth, and he's playing Go with Jurojin the god of longevity. Who's going to win? It could be quite a long game. Most of the other things on the stall are also up on Laura's website here: http://bit.ly/HsKOkC

- Royal Doulton Flambe. It's pottery, but with a red-and-black glaze, which makes it the raddest pottery available. It was on a stall with some pottery by Jean Cocteau. Standard, if you ask me. Here's one for you to look at:
It's like some kind of limitied edition, extra-badass Cringer.

- A life ticket to the theatre royal Newcastle. I've never had a life ticket, but it turns out that they come in the form of a modest bronze coin worth £1800. That seems a bit steep, right? I'd rather just pay as-and-when there was something good on. Their current season involves a couple of Propeller Shakespeares, An Inspector Calls and some dancing shit. Even if I'd shelled out for the ticket, it had someone else's name on it so probably wouldn't have worked. I hope this Stephen Kemble guy managed to see a lot of stuff before deciding to cash in on his grossly appreciated trinket. Apparently he was the manager of the place and the ticket was made back in 1808 so he's had plenty of time.

- This ace cartoon, Breton Girls, by Rudolph Ihlee.
- Some stuff by Dame Laura Knight. I didn't know about her, but she seems to have been something of a legendary figure in the art world. Apparently she headed off from home and got a place at the Nottingham School of Art when she was just 13, back in 1890.

- The Object of the Fair! It was a heartstopping 1680 Rosewood cabinet with pietre dure marble inlay panels. I'd hoped to put up a picture of it here, but the bugger's sold it so it's not on his website anymore. Bloody thing was worth £285,000, so I'm surprised he's even bothered to update his website. I'd be out running up and down the streets throwing cash in the air if I were in his position.

- "...it was 15 carats. I real pig to wear." "yes, quite ugly I thought actually."

- A white-gold snail brooch, with a pearl shell and flat-set-diamond encrusted skin. 17.71 carats, made by the crown jewellers Woolf and Co. The chap got it out of the cabinet and I held all £7375 of it on my barren palm. I said thank you very much for letting me have a look. He said 'yes it's a fun thing isn't it?' I fainted clean away.
Look at him, he is is quite a fun thing I suppose.

- Through gritted teeth: "My goodness me, that was a bit dramatic the whole thing, wasn't it?"

- Portrait of a Lady in a Coral Necklace, water and gouache over pencil. You can keep your pearl earrings and dragon tattoos. This was beautiful, and the first thing that I saw when coming round from a faint upon seeing the £12k John Piper collage that it was hung next to. It was a vision. Her hair!

- A group of hunting scenes by Rubens. Not by P.P. himself you understand. No, when you're a big enough name as that sucka, you can just paint something and then get your apprentices to do etchings of it while you look over their shoulders and whinge about your gout. One of them had a bunch of guys breaking up a fight between a crocodile and a hippo, and it was all like 'Hippotamus Crocodilum dum dente impetit hostem. Too fuckin' right boys. That one was done in the 1640s buy a chap named Soutman, although I preferred the style of his buddy Bolswert, who was more refined.

- Hungarian modernist tea service, y'all!

- Geoffrey Breeze. This dude just had a whole stall of antique canes. (Ain't lying: www.antiquecanes.co.uk) Pimps from across the south-east will be flocking westwards to his shop in Bath. A great pimp pilgrimage. Pimpgrimage.

- Rogers de Rin of Chelsea won the bronze wossname for best stall presentation. I can't say I noticed who won silver or gold but Rogers' stall was great, with Wemyss ware pigs all over it. Those pigs were staunch and enigmatic. Here, tell me I'm wrong:


- A bronze box in the shape of a monkey getting stung on his bum by a fly. This was a nice thing, from 19th century Japan, and it was worth £1750. Not a big deal. Except...I've got one on my shelf at home. Got it for Christmas last year. Aw shit.

- 'I've spent about £3000 so I rather think I should have a bag.'

- Finally, a 1920s deco 'smoker's companion' in the shape of a dinky aeroplane. The fuselage was a cigar box, the wings were removable cig cases, there were four ashtrays in the cockpit, the propellor was a sprung cigar cutter. Made by J.A. Henkels in Solingen. I didn't have the required £6k on me because I had to leave my bag in the cloakroom. See below to be unnerved by an uncannily accurate diagram:

That's all for now. This whole lot was just to distract from my recent failings in making money off the trade, but I'll be back onto that stuff forthwith.

Sunday, 18 March 2012


Things are tense here at the um...I haven't made up a name for my imaginary lair yet. But things are tense. Here's how it happened:

Went off this morning to an antiques fair at Kinver, a village near my old manor of Kidderminster. Now all was looking pretty innocuous to begin with: housed in a primary school, drizzly day, we might be in an out in ten minutes. Well, upon stepping up in the place it became clear that fate had a different tale in store. Soon after arriving, it became clear that the place was stuffed with cigarette cards.

Not totally stuffed, there was room to walk around, but very little. As you'll know from a couple of posts ago, ciggy cards brought me a windfall recently, and it turns out that I now see nothing but $$$ whenever I clap eyes on them. It was a frantic half hour or so, but I emerged with the following:

Repro Tennis Cards:

A full set of cards depicting crisp 'lads and lasses playing jaunty tennis in the 1920s. Now don't get excited, because the cards themselves are from 1997. They're a reprint of a set from 1928 so I won't be retiring off them. Thing is, they're in top nick, they were £2 and they're a full set. So they tick a couple of boxes. There are even some swish horizontal ones showing action poses, with stubborn grass-stains surely only seconds away. Presumably these are the equivalent of the rare 'shiny' stickers one might get in one's Panini packs as a ten-year-old. These were gold-dust, and could be relied upon in the event of forgetting one's packed lunch as one's peers would always be open to a straight swap.

Manchester Regal Cinema Programme

Chek it out, it's got Chubby Checker on the front!

He's doing a little dance. He's on there because the Regal were showing his film Twist Around the Clock (they claim it's 'Twist-errific') that month. Judging by the other stuff in there, it was February of 1961. Gawd knows if anyone out there collects cinema programmes... I probably should have thought about that. Hmm... well this is the best way to find out. I'm a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing really, because the guy's not chubby at all. I mean, he's a professional. Dude was constantly doing the Twist for like, ten years. He had to have horribly overdeveloped lats. Maybe that's why folks thought he was fat. I'm rambling now, so as to avoid talking about how little money this will earn. The porky twat.

Wolves Season Review 1995/6

From back when season review DVDs came with very long booklets and no DVD. 1995/6 was a dog's arse of a season for us really, but I'll still read it before I try and get rid of it.

I shelled out £4 for this litany of underachievement, and to make matters worse, some cheeky scrote's scribbled their name in it. Worse still, it's the chairman! The manager has stuck his name in the next page as well. Sadly it's not Graham Taylor because he was sacked by the time the book came out. I love Taylor.

So is there a market for tat like this? The pictures don't even move. I suppose I'd have to find a credulous Wolves fan and hope they take leave of their senses or have a weakness for collectibles. It worked for the bloke who sold it to me, so it could work again.

Film Stars Ciggy Cards

This is the last of my halfway sensible purchases. Writing this is like watching the last half hour of TV before you have to go and do an exam. Soon I'll be fessing up to a huge moment of folly, so for now I'm going to enjoy the last grains of hope to be shaken out of today's purchases.

I love these cards! Two full sets of Players' cigarette cards featuring famous film stars of the 1930s, the first from '34 and the second from '38. Check some of them out:

Maurice Chevalier, bitches. How pleased does he look? So pleased. He always seems like a jolly chap in pictures. You could fry an egg on his hair.

Wait, let me look up this woman's name. That's right! It's Boots Mallory. I don't know what you'd have to do these days to get a nickname like 'Boots', but it wouldn't be cheap. It's the kind of nickname that speaks of a bygone age of swagger and innocence but she probably got the name by slurping coke out of a boot.

It's Clarke Gable. The thing that this shows is that with out his moustache, Clarke looked quite a lot like William H. Macy. I'm not sure whether or not H. Macy knows this, but someone should let him know that he just needs to sprout a 'tache and all women are his. Oh shit wait, he's married to Felicity Huffman isn't he? Has he done well there? I can't decide. I suppose that if I were to be jduging how well Felicity had done then I'd judge her harshly for ending up with Bill H., so on that logic he's done well. But think how much better you could have done with some hair on your lip, WHM!

I nabbed these two sets for £4 each. Now, I checked Ebay and that's about market value, which is a bit disappointing. It's not as disappointing as what follows though.

Sports Cards x 4

I met this old chap, and he had a bunch of sports cards. He said he was turning £85 next birthday and wanted to get rid of his stock over the next 12 months. The four sets that I wanted were priced at £102 so I offered him £85. I thought that was pretty cute, but he wanted £90. Fair enough. If I make it to 85 then I'll be holding out for 90 as well.

I was happy enough with this whole load of cards when I bought them. They were all full sets from the 20s and 30s in good condition and they even came with dinky plastic holders. One of them, below, is a set of just fast dudes. That's the theme. So you've got guys like Jesse Owens in the same set as, like Squadron Leader J. W. Gillan. It's completely mental that you used to be able to get trading cards of famous soldiers.

I digress. The others that I bought were cricketers from 1928 and 1938, and footballers from 1935. Now, given that I sold a set of footballers from 1951 for fifty quid last month, you'd think that these even older ones would fetch a sum more...right? Right. Well not right, but I just wanted to say it and believe that it was true.

I got home with them and was all like 'hey Ebay, check these out. Don't lose your shit, I need you to give me a level-headed analysis of what these are going for'. Ebay just kind of looked at me and shook his head like I'd gone too far. I can't really bring myself to write down how little this stuff's selling for right now, but suffice it to say that it's about -

Oh shit, wait! It's not all that bad. Over on Ebay.com they're doing a bit better. I won't make profit but maybe I'll not loose as much of my stake as I thought. Sorry, screw this blogging nonsense, I'm over to list them right now. I'll let you know how it goes...

No, hang on, these prices are all in dollars...

Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Kassam Car Boot Sale

My mum, right? My mum, has just bought a Hermes scarf for a quid. We bring it back home and look it up on Ebay. It's worth £106. Whatever I manage to wring out of today's haul has already paled into insignificance next to that. I can't go on.

I'll go on. I hadn't been to the Kassam car boot before this morning, but have heard about it in legend. It's unremarkable really. A lot of market traders (meat out of a van, brillo pads, veg. The like) and rusty tools on tarpaulins. I don't know what it is about these tools, but there's always a stall at any car boot or flea market (they manage to sneak into the antiques fairs as well, as long as they pitch up outside) and while on the face of it, there's just a huge spread of buggered hoe heads, pickaxes, shears...etc... blokes go mad for them. There's always a gaggle of grubby men picking through and holding a bit of unrecognisable metal up to the light as though t'were a fine cut ruby. I've never seen a bloke spend money on one of these stalls, but they're always there rummaging for truffles. The nearest I've seen one of these particular connoiseurs come to handing cash over was today:

Grubby Bloke: (hefts a pitted hoe head in his hand) 'Ow much?
Grubby Stallholder: Fifty (pence, right? Surely pence)
Grubby Bloke: (replaces hoe head on tarpaulin with the care of a bomb disposal expert)

Anyway, my other observations of the Kassam car boot:

- so many pitbulls
- young man on the phone: 'was I rude to you yesterday? was I rude to you yesterday? was. I rude to you. yesterday?'
- stallholder of one of the above tool stalls to two unversed young visitors who were examining an axe: 'You know they're no good for splitting logs and that?'
- If you've a young kid, there's no excuse for ever buying toys from a shop

Also, the following knife-edge negotiation over a tin of old buttons:

My mum: How much for these?
Woman: Two pounds.
Mum: Pound?
Woman: No, two pounds.
Mum: One-fifty?
Woman: Two pounds, they're in a nice tin.
Mum: Tell you what, one-fifty and you can keep your tin.
Woman: Alright then (throws in the tin anway. It wasn't a nice tin).

Glass Lampshade

So, what did I get? Well, the first purchase was a 1930s lampshade. This was a bit of a tip-off, I have to admit. Mum just came up and said 'this is a 1930s lampshade, they're popular and very collectable' and then fucked off to another stall. I felt like a wee chick lobbed out of the nest and expected to fly. Thing is, it was only 20p, so I made the investment. I then became convinced that everything else in this bloke's 20p bin was a lost treasure of Atlantis as well. I became a spiralling mass of doubt and confusion. Only managed to escape by buying a nice (but worthless) jug for another 20p and using the purchase to break my orbit and fly off down the row.

Now, it's not in shit-your-pants amazing condition, but it is pretty cool, and will look a bit nicer after I've cleaned it up a bit. Ebay and the wider internet remains tight-lipped about how much it might be worth, but if I wang it up there for a couple of quid then it could be on.

Bought for: 20p

Hopes: Modest

Profit: £££

Actual Cheddar: ££

Minton Cup and Saucer

Now, don't get excited or anything, but these guys are quite old. The guy on the stall was giving it some fierce chat about how they're Royal Derby and over 100 years old, but this proved to be negative truth. I still stumped up for them because he was enthusiastic and they are quite nice ('buy old quality' was ringing in my ears).

A good deal of scrutinising once they were safely stowed in my Binsey Lane emproium revealed that they are not Royal Derby. One of the things that occured to me several times this morning was that I wish I knew a little bit more about crockery (like about 1000% more) because there was so much of it about that I must have missed some gems. Mum maintains that I didnt, but then I didn't see her snapping up this saucy little cup and saucer so there's no telling what else her more refined nostrils failed to sniff.

While they're not RD, they are made by Mintons. I don't know much about these chaps, but I did manage to find a guide to their potter's marks on the internet. It informs me that the little S on the base of the saucer dates it to 1895.

Now, I went a bit excited when I found this out, but I've no idea what it does to the price. Ebay hasn't had anything like this selling recently and I've not been able to find anything with a similar Japanese pattern on Google Images (only the finest resources here). That makes it all a bit taxing to work out how much I should be asking for it. I may take it along to a local antiques bod or museum to ask them, like a sucker. They'll probably offer me £4 for it.

Nevertheless, it's old. Old as a grandad. Not these modern grandads that kids have these days, mind, a proper grandad.

Bought for: £5

Hopes: defiantly high

Profit: ££

Actual Cheddar: ££

Silver Surfer Lot

I came across a dude with a big box of Silver Surfer comics. They were cool. What's that film from the 80s in which a guy goes on about how much he loves the Surfer? Is it Big? Is it Lethal Weapon? Yeah I think it's Lethal Weapon...

...Ah Mel Gibson... when he was acceptable....Mel...

So this guy was selling off his old collection of Surfer comics, some of which go back to the 80s. I was a bit reserved to begin with, but the good ones are in mint condition and are bagged and boarded. That sounds like something they'd say in CSI: Somwhere: 'bag and board him, we'll do the autopsy back at the lab'. Is that what CSI is about? I've never watched it, but assume that most of these wallowing US crime dramas are the same as Silent Witness.

Bagged and boarded just means that the comic's in a plastic cover with a bit of card, so stop it getting drooled on by comic geeks or folded when they try to shove it in their pants. Now, e-bay has shown that none of the comics are worth much. About a dollar each. Given that I shelled out £25 on the whole lot, I should be able to make my money back by selling them individually.

However, given what good nick they're in, I might look into getting them graded. I've been doing enormous amounts of research of late into trading card dealing, and it turns out that you can send your old comics away to have their condition graded. If you get a good grade then it adds to the value and also makes suckers more confident about buying them on Ebay because you can show them the grade rather than trying to display how nice they look from a grainy photo.

The picture below is from a normal 1980s copy, but there's a 1992 special edition in this box (hang, on there's another in here as well) that goes for around $30 in mint condition. One thing I've learned during my research is that 'mint' really does mean mint, and even if a comic looks in great nick, it's still probably on a 2.5 out of ten for some reason not visible to the human eye. Harsh, right? Well we'll see. This box is going to take a lot of research and even perhaps its own spreadsheet. The thing is, how much is it going to knock off the value once I've taken them all out of their bags and read them a couple of times. Sure, I might be able to get through a couple of issues without spilling curry on them, but that still leaves another 30-40 at risk.

I could just not read them, I suppose. That would safeguard their condition. But that's not really why I bought them is it? let's face it.

Also tossed in for £1.50 were three Silver Surfer trading cards (above). I don't think there's any resale value in these, so I'm just going to keep them and frame them. Then sell them.

Bought for: £25

Hopes: deflated

Profit: £

Actual Cheddar: ££