Tag Archives: Antiques

Newly Added Inventory to Black Market Antiques – November 8, 2013

This is a short slide show of the newly added products to the inventory at ww.BlackMarketAntiques.com on November 8, 2013. Included are a bunch of pinback buttons and some miscellaneous jewelry mostly. The highlight would probably be a pretty scarce Pennsylvania fishing license button from 1953, which wouldn’t be all that exciting except for the fact that it is a Non-Resident license, which makes it much more rare.

New Products for Late October 2013

Here’s a quick slideshow of the products that were added to Black Market Antique’s online inventory the last couple days of October 2013. We’re currently adding more antiques and vintage collectibles including lots of jewelry. Check back to our blog or subscribe to our YouTube channel for ongoing updates of new inventory.

BlackMarketAntiques.com Has Relaunched…Finally!

Black Market Antiques RelaunchedAbout a month ago we began undertaking a long needed update to the Black Market Antiques website that included not only a total visual makeover, but also functional improvements on an exponential scale. Well, we’re finally happy to announce that the site has been relaunched and is fully functional once again and ready for shoppers to browse. We’ve still got a few things that need touched up, like the look of this blog, but the site is fully functional, easier to use and much easier to navigate than previously.

We didn’t just change the look of the site, we changed the shell and added a lot of new features. Other than the look of the site, the biggest change is probably in our shopping cart and checkout process. Black Market Antiques now has “Checkout as a Guest” feature, where making an account with our site is not required. We also have new upgraded abilities to run sales and give discounts based on customer loyalty for those regulars who shop here often. Our photo quality has improved, and you can look for products to now have larger clear photos. Our search has also improved and you no longer have to match exactly what is in the title to show product results. The search is also tweakable and we’ll be working forward to customize the search results based on past searches and results to more accurately show products of relevance.

In the past month, we’ve also added close to 1,000 items to our inventory including a large expansion of our jewelry categories.

We’ve also gotten rid of the Google Wallet checkout! Some customers loved it, but generally it was met with puzzled looks and skepticism and general  frustration over the annoyance of having to sign up for a service completely separate than just making a payment for the goods on Black Market Antiques.

In the coming weeks we will be doing some more cosmetic tweaks and adding some more features too, including the ability for shoppers to make offers on the products. We know you like to shop at antique shows and flea markets and that you like to bargain, soon you will have that ability. Also, sign up for our newsletter for periodic site updates, inventory notifications and general antique news. Also, we will be adding a newly listed products page, so you can browse our newest items.

We thank our regular customers for their patience as we made the transition to our new site format, browse around and hopefully you will find the experience much improved as well.

Black Market Antiques on Facebook

Black Market Antiques has a Facebook page…which usually gets neglected more than it should.

How our Facebook page is easier to find.  In older posts we posted the big long lets-see-how-confusing-we-can-make-it link that was our page location on Facebook. Well, no more! Now we have one of those short easy to remember addresses: www.facebook.com/blackmarketantiques

We’re going to make a concerted effort to update our status on FB more often, and possibly even post some sales and specials on there. Stop by and give us a thumbs up and even suggest a sale.

Cable TV Execs – Give Us a Real Reality Show About Antiques…Please

Dear cable TV execs,

Please give all of those of us who are antique dealers an authentic reality TV show that properly reflects the job and life of an antique dealer, picker, auctioneer, etc. – dealers everywhere and the viewing public in general will thank you. Or at least give Danielle Colby-Cushman (from American Pickers) her own show.

I just watched the latest episode of Cash & Cari last night. I watch it because it deals with antiques, and that’s what I do. I also watch it because I’m a masochistic fool, hell bent on raising my blood pressure to death-defying levels. It usually works. By the end of an episode I’m red in the face and am usually yelling obscenities at the TV set. But Cash & Cari is not unique, it’s just the worst. The only show that is entertaining, funny, informative and a half-way decent example of real life is Pawn Stars.

But it isn’t all Cari’s fault, nor is it Mike and Frank’s fault on American Pickers, it’s the fault of the TV execs and directors who think that their finished product is representative of an industry that generates billions (literally) in revenue each year.

Show us the reality. In a recent episode the guys on American Pickers point at a place (ooh, ooh) and pull in, camera view switches to view of van pulling into driveway, guys go to door, guy in shirt comes out, listens to their little spiel, looks at their paper and then crumples it up and starts ranting and screaming. Yeah, OK. That’s how it works. In reality the guy may have done that, but they they said something to him like, “Hey, wanna be on TV, you’re cool in your whole derelict chic shirtless image.” He says, OK. Signs the release to appear and then they go back and start filming in the van and front yard again, and then he answers the door and does his best (and probably only) acting job of his life.

That isn’t reality. Isn’t reality what you were going for? Or is it just cheaper to produce a show with non-actors in it about antique, rather than paying actual trained actors?

And if a camera man can get to the far reaches of a barn without moving massive amounts of chairs, then Cari Cucksey should just be able to follow him. Stop wasting our time, we’re wearing out our Tivo’s FF button. And the stunts like the recent episode of American Pickers where the firefighters had to break into a barn….yawn. I’m not watching these shows to see staged scenes that don’t really happen in this business. You just get a crowbar and open the door, that’s it.

It would also be nice to have a show to watch that didn’t pull punches, but rather landed some on the appropriate parties.  In a recent episode of Pawn Stars, owner Rick tells a guy that wants $300 (instead of Rick’s offered $200) for a military uniform: hey get your own pawn shop, pay 20 people, built a clientele, pay for marketing, insurance, etc., then you can get $300 out of it.

I do realize that these shows need to be edited, you can’t have an episode of Pickers that lasts for 6 hours (which is often how long it takes to go through a house or barn, make deals, load trucks, etc.) but the antique business is not all great deals and happy times. Instead of showing us your characters being scared of pet emus, show us them covered in sweat and grime from digging in piles of stuff in a house of an 87 year old woman who has 24 cats and then leaving smelling like cat piss, covered in the dust of years of dried critter feces, empty handed because they couldn’t come to a deal.

Some recurring non-reality moments in recent antique related shows.

  • Camera shots of pickers pulling into driveways, walking to doors, first contact with sellers, etc.
  • Auctioneers taking anything on consignment regardless of value or seller’s desired price – especially with no reserve.
  • Spending an entire day looking through buildings and then buying two small items.
  • Constant optimism and graciousness towards sellers.
  • “Stumbling”upon eccentric and quirky sellers (every week) who have cool stuff and want to sell it cheap. Due in part to these shows, more and more calls result in having to deal with an upper middle-class housewife who just saw some of her personal belongings on American Pickers and thinks she should be able to get the same amount.
  • Having a signed agreement to sell items for a particular price prior to arriving at a residence. Every wonder why Mike and Frank on American Pickers usually have problems buying things and then they “pop” all over something and “break the ice” and then the seller starts selling everything? A little reminder about the agreement about having to sell stuff for a certain price is a nice push for sellers on that show, but doesn’t happen in real life.
  • “Calling an expert” about everything. Antique dealers are usually on their own. In the time it takes to find an “expert,” that seller can go two blocks down and sell the item to an expert, or call another antique store….and they do. The time to buy something is when it’s in front of you.
  • Looking everything up. Real dealers use their brains, not iPads. Auctioneers sell thousands of items per week, the vast majority of which they do not research.
  • Walking away from deals. When faced with a mountain of valuable, salable antiques, and a seller who doesn’t give a shit about them, you don’t buy three little items, at least without asking about the buying the whole shebang.

Some reality that is NOT shown on TV:

  • We rip people off. Not always, but that is generally how antique dealers are viewed by would-be sellers of personal old stuff. Most calls involve a seller who is at best skeptical and wary of antique dealers and at worst raving mad and delusional.  There are laws in place that prevent dealers from offering too low of a price, when they know something is valuable. But if the seller sets the price, then it’s perfectly legal for a dealer to give the seller their $20 asking price for a $75,000 Tiffany lamp. Here’s an article about some common scams to avoid when buying/selling antiques.
  • Dealers don’t always buy things. Every call is not a buy. We receive multiple daily calls and emails about values of antiques, yet most people do not want to pay for appraisals. Going out to a residence on a call often means leaving empty handed and dealing with some grumpy, stinky, dirty people and many times the “antiques” that were mentioned in the calls are anything but antique and far from valuable.
  • We don’t all have cute tattooed assistants. Some of us do, but not most…sorry, this is not an instant benefit of becoming an antique dealer.
  • Sometimes we have to buy everything. Sure that box of gold jewelry is awesome in the dead lady’s bedroom, but her family wants rid of everything, including the garbage bags full of dirty adult diapers in the basement. Being an antique dealer often involves a lot of other stuff, like clearing out entire houses, sometimes most of which is garbage, just to get the good stuff.
  • Sometimes we lose money, sometimes lots of money. Sure we have years of knowledge, books, the internet on our phones and the ability to call someone for prices if we aren’t sure….but usually we can’t use a magic pause button that freezes the seller while we check something that we might not have extensive knowledge about. If we made windfalls off every time, all antique dealers would drive around in Porches. Number of dealers that I know of that drive a Porsche….one.
  • We don’t all have 5 grunts with us on calls. We wish we did, but usually we don’t know whether a call is going to require workers to help. We can call our employees to come help, but often the loading is done by ourselves.
  • We don’t say “we could sell it for more online” (good one Cari). A lot of the time our customers are other dealers who specialize in something. If you can sell something for more online, that’s normal, an estate sale is not retail. Nor is eBay. That item might sell for more on eBay than it does at an estate sale in little Podunk town, but it will also sell for more at an auction, and more than that at a high end antique store, and more still at a specialist auction in New York. “We could sell it for more online” is just stupid. Besides, you’re telling someone that who plans on doing exactly that.
  • Most antique dealers are not likable characters or charismatic. But, there are lot of “characters” out there that are more dynamic that many of those featured on the current cable lineups. A 75 year old dealer who gave up on dreams and hope of monumental success three decades ago buying and selling crap just because he always has for the past 40 years is more believable than a 40 year old guy who pitches a show for a cable network.
  • All sellers are not interesting, many are scary. Get stuck in a basement looking at old homemade porn while the guy from Silence of the Lambs (rub the lotion on the skin guy) talks about how his father made films of him, and you could only wish that you were on a reality show with a crew following you to clown museums.

So in closing, please visit the websites, message boards and forums that your networks created to compliment the shows that you produced. Read all of the comments. Learn from your mistakes. And make a show that is both entertaining and real.

If anyone has more real/unreal examples from current “reality” shows about antiques, please feel free to share.

What’s the Grossest or Weirdest Thing You’ve Found While Antiquing?

9vgWhile speaking to an antique dealer and bottle digger over the weekend, the question came up about whether he’d ever found a body while digging for bottles.  His answer was no, but he did say that he had found an old skull while digging in an old dump…which he quickly replaced and moved to another area to dig.

This got me thinking about what types of weird and/or gross things that we’ve found while searching for antiques.  Below you will find some of our top picks from personal experience, feel free to add some of your own to the comments section.  In no particular order…

1. Dead Animals: While antiquing you’ll find a lot of dead little critters, mice, possums, etc.  The worst house as far as dead animals go had to be an old early 19th century stone house where we found about a dozen dead mummified kitty cats in the basement.  Some were sitting on the window sills looking out at freedom when they died and remained there for, apparently, years before we found them.

2. Poo: There are lots of types of poo, and we’ve found many of them in some odd places.  One house had about a dozen coffee cans randomly placed throughout the home, all with dried cat turds in them.  At a former group home, someone used a graniteware roaster as a chamber pot, and never bothered to dump it…that was a surprise.  Another home had a half dozen portable toilets in the basement, all full!

3. Blood: Everybody has blood, so it’s logical that you’ll find some occasionally.  We’ve found two knives in with kitchen utensils at houses that had exorbitant amounts of congealed blood on them, and not the kind of blood one might expect from butterflying a fillet.   On another occasion we found numerous items that apparently were present during some sort of CSI worthy crime scene as there was high velocity blood splatter all over the items.

4. Porn: Finding porn is always fun.  There’s always a market for porn, especially the good vintage stuff.  I especially like finding a stash that was meant to be hidden and presumably thrown away before the owner died.  One man (who had died) had a bathroom in his garage full of dozens of empty Vaseline jars dating back decades….and some porn.  One of our associates once found a cache of vintage kiddy porn on 8mm film in the basement of a home, along with other vintage adult films.  He left the kiddy stuff with the owner, who was actually the boy in the films, shot during the 1960’s.

If you’ve found some weird or gross things along the way in your antiquing, we’d love to read about it, post your comments about the worst things you’ve found.

Coolspring Power Museum Expo 2010, June 17-19

9wrIf you are into hit & miss engines, steam engines or just antiques in general, you’ll want to take a trip to Coolspring, PA for this year’s Coolspring Power Museum Expo that’s taking place from June 17 through the 19th.  The expo is held in downtown Coolspring at the Power Museum grounds, just off state route 36, about 7 miles south of Brookville, Pennsylvania.

Admission to the event is a $5 per person donation, kids get in for free.  Vendors/swapper fee of $25.

This year is the silver anniversary of the Power Museum, which was started in 1985.  The expo offers lots of activities and demonstrations of all sorts of antique engines.  There’s also always a nice assortment of food vendors and flea market exhibitors or swappers at the swap meet with all sorts of antiques related to hit & miss engines and just antiques in general.

For more info on this year’s event, visit the Coolspring Power Museum website.

American Pickers – It’s Better Than Nothing

9zu1If you haven’t heard…The History Channel has a new antiques oriented show on Monday evenings at 9 PM EST.  It is called American Pickers.  The show is a reality based video documentary style program that follows two pickers, Mike Wolf and Frank Fritz, on their treks through the countryside looking for antiques.  If you’re looking for another Antiques Roadshow type program, this isn’t it – too light on info.  If you’re looking for another Bargain Hunt or Cash in the Attic type program, this isn’t it – too light on info and way too light on personality.  Still the show is worth at least checking out.  The History Channel website for the show has clips that you can watch (if you’re worried about wasting an entire hour).

Recently a couple of our pickers stopped in with a load of antiques to the Black Market Antiques office and the show was one topic of conversation during the visit.  Everyone seemed to give the show lukewarm reviews, which is considerably better than many of the posts on the History Channel forum for the show.  One picker was amazed at the relative ease at which Mike Wolfe got one of the sellers to part with merchandise for ridiculously low prices.  Which is one of my main issues with the show.

I have a saying “All auctioneers are going to hell.”  I told one auctioneer that and he replied “…and all antique dealers are going there too.”  After seeing the first three episodes of this series, I believe Mike & Frank will be there for sure, if not for ripping off old people and just being plain annoying, then for revealing secrets of the trade.

Maybe it’s just the way the show is edited, but I find it hard to believe those guys actually make a living as pickers.  Their “shop” (which is a pole building) looks brand new, as does their van and all the decals.  Perhaps those were History Channel incentives.  Mike and Frank’s Antique Archeology website is basically an advertisement for the show and was obviously made after the series was taped.  Mike’s grimacing at the price of the Vespa Ape and reaction to the price of the one seller’s carriages suggests that perhaps he isn’t the world renowned picker that the History Channel describes on their website.

All that said though, American Pickers was relatively entertaining and the consensus here is that everyone will keep watching it, even though everyone likes Pawn Stars better.  Future reviews may even be done on a per episode basis…possibly by the employee that is most annoyed with each episode.