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

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: ££

Thursday, 16 February 2012

A Crowing Post about those Football Cards

Someone said to me the other day 'when are you going to do a crowing post about those football cards?' I said I'd wait until the fees come through from Ebay and then tot everything up. But I got impatient and with no new purchases forthcoming until next weekend, at which point expect a large update, it was either a CPatFCs or one about my newfound obsession with basketball rookie cards. The former representing my only guaranteed, in-the-pocket chance of a glorious success story, I opted for the football cards.

First things first though: let me set that scene. The success about which I'm to crow comes on the back of repeated and demoralizing failure, like all good Hollywood successes (cf: Wile E. Coyote in Soup or Sonic). Since the last update, I've made a profit on just two items: the wee wooden thimble (three cheers!), which netted me 6p, and a pair of pristine cowboy boots, which went for a genocidally unacceptable £11.50. Stick it up your arse, Ebay! Oh wait, the third Netsuke sold as well! For 58p, which I've probably already reinvested in bog roll.

Among some of the biggest disappointments were the Mother of Pearl bracelet, which was robbed off me for £4.19 just days after two tasteful (and probably kind-hearted) acquaintances offered me significantly more. From this I have learned: take the money when it's offered. Also, a lovely little stainless steel brooch in the shape of a comma (come on! Commas are the coolest punctuation mark!) which lost me 70p and the little bloody beaded bloody lipstick holder, which went for a single quid. Beads are out.

What I've learned from this is that Ebay isn't the best way to make money on these things. I'd be much better off finding local dealers or setting fixed-price sales. Anyway, I'll expand more on my changing strategies in a forthcoming post.

There is also quite a bit of stuff knocking about that didn't sell, so I'll include that in whatever new strategy this new strategising throws up. This lot includes the Slimmer's Plate, the Jasperware Plate and the Mother of Pearl Ring. To my eternal discredit, I've also written off a couple of items against my total. These are a cassette version of the Breakfast Club soundtrack, which turned out to be hopelessly distorted (when my friend Ross and I tried to play it after our 5th viewing of said film) and a really sharp Dablju shirt, which looks pretty good on me, and which has therefore been withdrawn from circulation.

So, in summary, of what I've sold so far:

Bought: £61.23
Sold: £53.22
Loss: £8.01

That's an octo-loss! Bloody hell. I'd do an emoticon at this point, but they're not helping anyone. How should I articulate my disappointment? I could tear the curtains down, but they're quite nice curtains and I got them for my birthday (wonder how much I could get for them on Ebay...), or I could go and pensively smoke a fag. Yeah, I'll do that like in films.

Here I am getting a fag out of the packet...yeah...I'll...wait, what's this in the fag box? Why, it's a


That's right, thou waves of clownish internet fortune, I'm still in the game! I'm not afraid to admit that those thirty-two motley globe-chasers have heroically bailed me out and left my finances in raw, if not rude, health.

In the end, they attracted a rather modest flurry of bidding which, I'd like to imagine, all came from pipe-chomping whiskered old soaks who saw said buccanneers ply their trade in the fifties, rather than red-faced memorabilia dealers in Stourport spare-bedrooms. Amid the pall of poor performances and evaporating capital, I still excitedly logged in throughout the week of the auction to see the price first go green and then creep upwards, like a hung-over slow loris.

They eventually reached the grand heights of £51, square on the button. Now, as I'm not likely to ever see this level of profit margin again, I'd like to record it for electronic posterity. It's a 1,357% profit fools! (sorry for calling you fools. You're not fools. In fact, you've probably already made a better stab of that profit calculation than I have). But anyway, oh frabjous day, right?! Here's what it does to our rudimentary totaliser thing:

Bought: £64.73
Sold: £98.88
Profit: £34.15

That's a pretty remarkable stack of cheddar, there. I could have cheese sandwiches from now until I got malnourished and still have enough left to make a little throne out of. It's enough to make a chap complacent and full of his own nonsense, which, rest-assured, I shall certainly be in the next installment.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Lovejoys - A Spotter's Guide

Well, January became February in interesting fashion with continued e-baytrayals, a couple of write-offs and one huge breakthough. I'm going to do a full write-up once E-bay has sent me the commission bill. I'll also knock together a rough strategy plan for my next steps, to avoid the pitfalls engendered by my inability to use E-bay properly. I think there's a knack to it or something. Like butchering an octopus.

In the meantime, I thought I'd pay tribute to the fourth-wall-breaking, dodgy-dealing, posh-nobbing, mullet-headed* scam-scamp whose exploits I seek to emulate. Now, we all know about the man himself. I won't repeat his finest moments here, but will provide some juicy quotes from the man's Wikipedia page:

- "The lechery and violence in the novels was toned down for television".
- "The episodes were based on a series of picaresque novels by John Grant (under the pen name Jonathan Gash)".
- "Lovejoy has a reputation in the antiques trade as a "divvie".

That last one isn't just in there to tick off the Rule of Three. It's actually the key to understanding Lovvers and his true glory. Now, 'divvie' is antiques slang for a dude who can just tell what's what and sense a bargain piece from out of nowhere. However, what most people don't clock is that it is also an ancient Persian word for a powerful oasis-dwelling spirit. These spirits, while few in number, were able to incarnate as various avatars during their long lifespans and through this they became possessed of vast knowledge.

Tell you what though, to prove my point, here are three of Lovejoys other incarnations, subsequent and previous:

After centuries of manifesting as warlords and serious tribal elders, Lovejoy first came to earth in female form in the last 1860s. He took the name Esther Clason Pohl Lovejoy. In this form, our loveable rogue took matters into his own hands and set about championing the role of women in medicine. He was deep into his women's suffrage during this time, and helped to establish the American Women's Hospitals. He also busted out some important medical scholarships at the University of Oregon's Medical School. Above all though, he also found time to rock almost unfeasibly rad headgear, like the item seen here. He was so fucking hip during this period that foxes would come running over and try choke a fool.

The reason that he was so fly when he was ECP Lovejoy was the thirty-five years he'd spent as one Elijah Parish Lovejoy, toiling in some pretty straight threads. He had other shit on his mind all that time, though. He had some slavery to shut down. He fired up an abolitionist printing press. A mob set fire to it. He did another one. They cooked that too. He had another go. They burned that shit down. He moved somewhere else and threw up a new one. They shot him dead. It was pretty rough for old Lovvers at this point in history. To make matters worse, all the antiques were brand new, so nobody wanted to shell out for them. He was depressed.

During the latter part of the Twentieth Century, Lovejoy was confronted once again by the forces of evil. Using his divvie senses, he divined the gross and corpulent expansion of our nation's favourite game, and resolved to fight it at every step. Taking the form of a rotten little goblin lad, he sought to undermine and topple the sport by fostering an elaborate lattice of bone-ignorance around it. Lovejoy was greatly admired during this time and was thwarted in his grand undertaking only by the the BBC's Delivering Quality First cuts, which managed to trap him in the oubliette of Saturday morning television before casting him out. He was a hero during this time, but I couldn't find any images of him without 'twat' written on them.

So there you go. A few of the faces of this powerful being throughout the ages. Actual selling stuff will resume next time I do a post, hopefully. Sorry about all this.

* "Lovejoy's mullet hairstyle is a common target in parodies of the show. However Ian McShane has a short cut in the first series and cuts the locks well before the final series revival" (Thanks, Wiki. Sorry for leaving you out of the cool list up there. I thought you deserved your own footnote, that's all).

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Reckoning - January 2012

Well, with a few weeks of bothering Ebay under my belt, it's probably time to report back on how things are going.

Slowly, is the first observation. I've been putting stuff on 10-week auctions so as to maximise the amount of time available for folks to clap eyes on each item. So there haven't been a great deal of successes or failures as yet. Of what has gone, there have been more in the latter category than the former, I'm afraid.


First to shift, or not, were the three turquoise netsuke. I'll be frank: they didn't wash their faces. Grubby buggers. In fact, the mouse one, the best of the bunch, didn't even sell. It's now been sent back for a second chance but hopes aren't high. That's because its compadres, the tiger and the baleful chick, both barely scraped a tenner which, as you'll remember, is roughtly what I shelled out for them in the first place. When you factor in listing fees and the commission that Ebay whips off sales, they lost me some cash. Only a bit, mind, but cash nonetheless. This wasn't the plan.

In hindsight, given that they were HBS and not of amazing quality, I probably did overpay for them by a couple of quids. One of the rules of this venture is 'buy quality', and I defied that with almost all of my early hauls, so this is a bit of a lesson in that.

Tiger Netsuke: Bought for £10, sold for £9.99. Loss after fees: £2.43
Chick Netsuke: Bought for £10, sold for £11.50. Loss after fees: 97p

Beaded Bag

Now, I was excited about this, but at least my mum had the good grace to look a little big sheepish when I told her how much it sold for. I'm putting it down to bad luck overall. It was a cool little handbag from a good label and, while it didn't make much, it did at least break even.

It at least outperformed its beaded cousin, the lipstick case, which didn't sell! Are people not into beads all of a sudden? I must have missed the email. It probably went straight into my junk folder rather than my 'beads - issues' folder, so I'll have to have a look at that.

Maybe the lesson is that while quality is good, the bag probably wasn't that rare an item and... well beads are obviously out. I can't see past those beads.

LK Bennet Handbag: Bought for £5, sold for £6.49. Profit after fees: 69p

Other offenders were the mother-of-pearl ring and bracelet. Neither were wanted. This was probably my fault, as I put them on fixed-price sales for maybe a bit too much (£30 the bracelet, £7.50 the ring). I've relisted them now on 10-day auctions with low starting prices so perhaps someone'll sniff.

Still, there are bids on a couple of other things at the moment, so hopefully my next update will bring gladder tidings, and some quantifiable green.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Football Cig Cards

This was the first thing that I bought at the antiques fair. Just walked in, saw it, bang! parp! Snapped it up. I'd completely forgotten that I had it until today, because I'd preserved it so safely in my bag, nestled in an old gas bill. But now here it is, dusted off and ready to get flogged for a song.

The initial results of my Ebaying have been poor (I'll post the skinny on this soon), and I'm hoping that now I've got the rest of my finds up there, things will turn around a bit. This could be the thing to turn 'em, and all. It's not only a complete set of ciggy cards, but it's in its original presentation album and the whole lot's in perfect mint condition.

Check them out, the handsome lot. That there's (L-R) Billy Wright (looking a bit of a geez), Wilf Mannion, Ted Ditchburn and Stanley Matthews, no less. How can you not love these blokes? Your man on the left captained England ninety times, goddamn you.

Here are some of my favourites:

Raich Carter - Hull City.
He looks right old in this snap, but was probably only in his mid 30s as he joined Hull at 32 I think. One of several footballers who did a bit of cricket on the side (for Derbyshire and Durham) and one of lots who lost their prime years to WWII.
Coolest thing about him is his name, of course. Raich is an amazing first name, but it gets better: It's short for Horatio. Yeah, think on that. What a swashbuckler! My new favourite ancient player.

Charles Mitten - Bogota.
I thought 'hang about...when were Bogota in the league?'. A bit of digging reveals that our man Mitten was busy tearing up the wings for Busby's Man Utd when he was approached by a couple of 'wealthy Columbian businessmen' and spirited away to play for Independiente Santa Fe for a season. Asamoah Gyan has taken lessons.
Unfortunately, Busby wasn't loving this career move, and he was in all kinds of trouble when he came back.

Jack Stamps - Derby County.
For the nominative determinism, by the looks of him.

Peter Doherty - Doncaster.
For the unbelievable hair tekkers.

Anyway, to business. These likely lads cost a total of £3.50. Now, I don't want to get carried away, but... a complete set of football cards from 1951 has got to be worth more than that, hasn't it? Am I deluding myself? Given my current luck in the profit stakes, I don't want to make any wild claims, lest I see my hubris balloon burst into flames, but surely someone will chuck a tenner at something like this?
I don't know... we'll see. Incidentally, I'm pretty pleased with managing to date this to 1951. It took a bit of searching around, but I went on which years each player was with the club shown on the card and managed to narrow it down to the 1951-52 season. Man, that's ...hang on... sixty years old! It's probably the closest thing to an actual antique that I've found yet. But why was the lady I bought it from only asking a fiver for it? She clearly knows something that I don't. Wonder what it is...

Bought for: £3.50 down from £5
Hopes: Nnnnnnngghhhh!!
Profit: ££
Actual Cheddar: ££

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Slimmer's Plate

I mean, this is mental. It's a plate with a bunch of food on it. Not unusual, you might think. Except the food's not food! It's pictures of food, all marked up with the calories per ounce. So you're supposed to eat your dinner off it and shift the food around the plate trying to find the required reference image. Surely it's too late by then? If you've made your butter cheese thingumy and are sitting down to swallow it, you're not going to bin it when you realise it's 340 cals an ounce.

So what's in the lead then? Healthwise, you've got your usual suspects: apples are 15, some incongruous strawberries are 10 and good old lettuce is in there with 5 cals per ounce. However, it is next to the cheese, so some of that may have wiped off on it, invalidating its score.

In the gut-fuzzing stakes, it's the aforementioned butter in top spot on 225, closely followed by bacon on 155 and something kind of indeterminate next to the sausages, which is 120. If I knew what a twinkie was then I might speculate that it's a twinkie.

All this twinkie chat indicates that I'm struggling to date this piece. I'd struggle to date twinkies, too. Wikipedia is having a righteous lockout today and I'm refusing to look anything else up in a gesture of rather tentative solidarity. Hang on though, twinkie sounds as though it might be slang for something. I'm just going to look it up (sorry, wikifolks)...

...so 'twinkie' also means an 'Asian' (I think as in western, central or east Asian) person who's 'culturally white' or a young attractive gay man with no nutritional content. Can of worms here, although I can still say that I've not dated a twinkie, in any sense of the word.

Anyway, I spotted this on a glassware stall that was having a 25% off sale (it's not glassware, deal with it) so I was able to knock them down another 25% from the initial £10 and get it for £5. At £10 it would have struggled to wash its face but at £5 there's a chance for a modest return as long as there are other people out there with a taste for completely bonkers pottery. You've got to hope that there are, right? Come on, this country digs Grayson Perry so hard.

Bought for: £5
Hopes: defiant
Profit: £££
Actual Cheddar: ££

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Beaded Accessories

Tonight is beads night. If it's got beads on it, I'm into it. If not, come back tomorrow, I've got beads to look at.

These two have just gone up for auction, to keep each other company in their beaded adventure. The handbag is LK Bennett (good label, I was informed by my shadowy guru) covered in big beads and small ones, so something for everyone. The little job is a dangerously hip lipstick case. It's for putting your lipstick in when you're ashamed of how unhip your lipstick is. I'm pretty sure they were all over these in the '20s, so that gives you some idea of how vogue it is.

Both are in pretty spanky condition and ready to go. Anyone with any sense will buy both because, and here's the thing, you could put the one inside the other. Other remarkable features of this hot tag-team are the little rectangular mirror inside the lid of the lipstick case, and the surprisingly pleasing weight of the handbag. I've been swinging it around quite a bit since I discovered its pleasing weight, so I can vouch for it.

The handbag should sell for a modest profit, because I got it for not much. LK Bennet stuff goes for good cash, but it depends on whether anyone's loving beads as much as I am. They should be. Also, I bought the lipstick case under my mum's frowning gaze. It was an act of rebellion! Therefore it should be rewarded with dollars if there's a shred of justice. Come on.

Bought for: £5
Hopes: High
Profit: £££
Actual Cheddar: ££

Lipstick Case
Bought for: £3 down from £5
Hopes: Sticky
Profit: £
Actual Cheddar: £