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.