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, 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: ££

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