Tag: antique

Antiques

Antiques

Antiques

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Recently I explored a half dozen antique malls of sorts in northern Colorado.

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Smart phones have made impromptu research very easy.

I would hazard a guess that when people used to go to these places they were looking for some sort of something that they either used to have as a younger person or, they were looking for some sort of dust-able to go into a specific spot.

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For instance many will buy old books that “look good” to set on shelves to appear to give the casual viewer the idea that they are read by the person who owns them.  In fact they are there because the binding looks good.

Today we see many with smart phones in hand looking to see what something sells for on eBay, or other auction site.  Junk has become an industry for the aging who see this as a revenue stream.

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While it is true that most are unpleasantly surprised or taken aback by the fact that what they thought was worth big money is not, some are pleasantly surprised that some of these things that you would think are rubbish, are in fact gold.

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Thrift-stores have also become haunts for these folks as once again they are there with smart phone in hand and shopping cart full of “stuff” looking for something to place on eBay.  Interestingly enough, even the thrift store operator has done some research and marks their items with eBay prices.

A quick watch of “The Pickers” should educate the public on some simple “junking” etiquette.

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In order for me to buy it from you; there has to be some meat left on the bone for me to make it worth my while.

If you want to sell in an antique mall you need to realize that the mall you choose will have less than a 100th of the traffic of some online store, thus cannot possibly command eBay prices.  The catch there is that you will pay rent on your space to store your junk and you might make just enough sales to pay your rent so; you are in effect giving your junk to the store owner.  If you want to sell in this fashion you must have turnover, which means what you have has to be in demand and it must be priced low enough to tempt the online entrepreneur as well as the casual junk collector to take a chance on buying it.

EBay makes its money much in the same way but they do it in sheer volume, unlike the bricks and mortar antique mall.  They charge a small fee for listing and another small percentage of what it sold for.

If I were eBay; I would make that fee variable on the kind of exposure that you get.  New sellers do not get the same exposure as established sellers therefor, the same fee that is charged for one should not be for the other.  In this manner eBay would encourage new sellers to do what it takes to get better exposure which they already do in typical “nudge” fashion.

I do not believe that eBay is a business strategy for the normal person, although many folks try to eke out a living selling in this manner.  It is more a hobby and a way to de-clutter with me.  Keeping this in mind, I realize that my efforts are making others rich while trying to get the stuff out of the house and manage my life’s collection of clutter.

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As I too shop on eBay for more clutter, it is pretty much a wash as I trade my junk for someone else’s.

If you want to make money at this, specialize in something that you are passionate about.  When you see it at some thrift shop, estate sale, garage sale or even some newspaper; you will know if it has value or not thus you will know whether to invest or not.

Those who put their stuff in antique malls not only should your prices coincide with the traffic in that store but, your space should be organized in such a fashion that anyone walking in there should be able to quickly scan your shelves or area to see if there is anything in there that they are looking for.  Way too many times I see shelves and crap piled high where the only person who is really looking is a “picker.”

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So to the treasure hunter, if you are looking; take the time to dig through their crap and look for that obscure toy or tchotchke that you know something about that may be on the floor under the bottom shelf with all kinds of other crap in front of it.

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There are bargains out there but, keep in mind if you find them at an antique mall that could mean that the majority of people in there did not recognize it as valuable, and most likely the same will be true of online visitors.

Marketing what you have to alert the shoppers is than called for.  Tell me why I need this thing?  What will it do for me?

Sell the Sizzle, not the steak!

-Best

© All Rights reserved 2015

Ebay, some things to watch for.

 

 

Greetings to you and so long 2013! 

 

I have spent a number of years on eBay and for the most part been happy with the services and products.  Having said that a few stand out in my mind and I thought an airing of the facts might help someone else.

 

Sites like eBay have accountability built in however; many of us don’t leave a negative rating when the person deserves it, thus skewing the results.  Some of us leave them a bad mark because the item was defective or what have you when it was clearly marked “as is no returns.”

 

I have been known to leave them a positive feedback but then voice my concerns for their way of doing business in the comments.  For instance one fellow sold me something and then just threw it into a “if it fits it ships box, no packing and barely any tape.  Why the post office took it is another story but it did make it.  The box did not survive and the device inside looked as if the Cowboys used it for a football.  Anyone reading his feedback will see that he needs to step up his shipping game.

 

Here is my argument, see what you think.  I have always felt that we are too litigious of a society, we are “sue happy.”  Anything goes wrong and there is some lawyer somewhere looking to make some money and will take the case no matter how petty the suite.  Much like sharks; the more hungry the beast, the more appetizing a license plate or old shoe looks as opposed to a “wrongful death suite” that just don’t fall into “everyone’s” lap..

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Is there a time to sue and is there a time to leave a negative rating?  The answer is yes to both.  If you are suing someone because you see it as a way to make money; (much like the lawyer,) than probably not.  However; if you are bringing legal action as a way to hold the entity accountable, and possibly get them to change the way that they do business, than I believe that you are not only justified, but you should.  The same is true about not leaving five stars. 

 

Did they earn it?

Was the description accurate?

Was the product or service delivered as expected?

Was the shipping “normal” or was it high?

Was the item packed correctly?

If there was a problem, did they go out of their way to make it right?

Did they communicate with you until it was resolved?

 

Online buying has evolved over the years and I would suspect that the day of shopping via printed catalogue will be history in the next few years.  With companies like Amazon, and others, it seems that the market place is much larger, only limited by internet access and access to the mail, or UPS or what have you.

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I collect, purchase and refurbish old radio’s, purely as a hobby.  I visited a re-cycle plant a few years ago where I saw home electronics being shredded, ground up, pulverized etc.  While there is a need for this, I really would like to salvage some of “Americana” via its technology of the 50’s and 60’s and before, for the next generations.  This quest has me looking for and purchasing unique antique e-stuff and than looking for the parts to repair it.  Few young people today know what a tube is or how it works.  We have managed to pack a video camera into wristwatch that still tells the time and only a few years ago (60) the transistor was replacing the tube allowing for smaller power supplies and of course smaller radio’s.  We got the first transistor radio in 1954 which was a combined effort of Texas Instruments and Industrial Development Engineering Associates.  A year later over 100,000 pocket radios were on the market.  That is when Raytheon jumped in to make a better radio hence came along the 8 TP 1 which basically was a radio that doubled the amount of transistors incorporated from 4 to 8 allowing for better sound.

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eBay seems like a natural place for this as it is rife with all kinds of these things.

 

Here are some things that I learned over the years that may help you and or might guilt the person or person’s who practice this type of behavior to stop it.

 

When selling an old “transistor radio” the seller said, “I am not sure how to test this.”  Translated “I have done everything that I know and this thing is dead.”  If you are incapable of installing a 9volt battery and turning a couple of knobs to see what happens, than perhaps you should not be selling on-line.

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“I put a battery in and just static, there are no AM stations in my area.”  Unless you live on the moon or in a cave or a solid brick building, there are radio stations that you can hear, that is especially true if you have the internet and cell phone.  Translated, “this thing is screwed up and I will say this in hopes that someone will buy it.”

 

I guess what I see most of is that “I got this at an estate sale and have no way to test it.”  Folks, the most idiotic person out there knows that it is worth more money if it works and most people who buy at an estate sale know more than just a little about what they are buying.  So, translated, “I did everything that I know, called all of my normal resources and this thing appears to be dead so I will say I don’t know how to test it and it will be someone else’s problem.” 

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A few others that I have received over the years are “for parts or repairs.”  Now this is fair game.  Accompanied along with pictures so people can see what they are bidding on, I now know that it is dead, that you don’t know how or don’t want to repair it and you want to move it.  Here is where the rub comes in.

 

I have bought many such radio’s to find that someone had opened them up and removed parts to repair another radio and then sold what they did not want as “for parts or repair.”  Translated, “I took what I needed, but I am not going to tell you that there are parts already gone.” The real problem is that I can’t prove that is what they did, but I can watch them and not purchase from them again.

 

Another “parts or repair item” is this, electronics that have been under water.  Folks, it is dishonest to sell something as “unknown condition,” parts or repair, I don’t know how to test etc if the item has been under water!  It is ruined if that is the case.  Case in point, I purchased a “lot of 3”  RCA radio’s from the 50’s.  Three radios’ that were of an unknown condition, “for parts or repair.”   There were fuzzy pictures of the cases and that was about it.  By the time you bid against others looking for these little collectables, pay shipping to find out that they are worthless well; that is just wrong on so many levels.  Not only were parts missing out of the three, each and every one was filled with mud.  The cases are not pristine so I pretty much threw away money and have nothing to show for it.

 

My last bone of contention is really the first radio that I bought like this.  As a long time Ham I started my radio hobby with a borrowed Hallicrafters SX-99 back in the late 60’s.  If you have not experienced what I am going to relate, you have missed out.  There is something magical about sitting in front of a radio such as this and listening to stations from all over the world; bask in the glow of dial lights, knobs and meters swaying with the signal strength. It is as if you are somehow connected to the station on the other end. I remember listening to a station in Hawaii and for a few moments I was there.  Shortwave used to be much more influential than it is today.  I think it was used as a propaganda method as well as a way to get information into areas that were blacked out by their local government. To control the people, you control what they hear, see, read and so forth.  We still do it today but that is another blog.

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I think a huge part of the success of eBay is people, much like me, trying to reclaim that lost moment through an old radio or trinket or favorite toy.  I started my search looking for one of these radios.  They are popular these days so the bidding gets intense and they frequently go for much more than they are worth.

 

Found one and bid on it. After an intense bidding war I got it from a local store and by local I mean in Texas.  Bad news there, not only did I pay premium dollar but, I had to pay sales tax.  Good news, I arranged to pick it up some weeks later when we were both going to be at the same event saving me $40 in shipping.

 

At first glance the case was not right; I could tell that it had been dropped.  Looking through the top cover everything else seemed rough but workable.  The money I paid for this the radio should have been turn key but alas, it was not.

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After getting it home I pulled the case off of it thinking I would straighten it out, to discover that this radio must have sat in a barn where water was allowed to enter it every time that it rained and stay until it evaporated.   My guess is that it was in this barn for years.  A restoration of that radio would mean replacing each and every control, the capacitors and who knows what else.  These things are very old and finding parts for them is not as easy as one might think.

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The person, who sold it to me, took it on trade. The person who traded it to him is likely the person who knew its history, and just did not care.

 

So here is my last bit of eBay advice, if they took it on trade, you may want to think about looking elsewhere as that is another escape clause if you are unhappy.  “No returns, all sales final etc” are just things that I tend to stay away from.   Now I know why some take no returns as there are those out there who need a part and will buy your item, take the part that they need from it and than send it back to you as a DOA. You are then held hostage by your eBay rating. 

 

I would rather eat a bug than take advantage of someone or a circumstance or in this case, steal from someone.  Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone felt that way?

 

Watch their feedback, if it is less than 100%, why is it that way?  If you get had by someone; warn others by leaving them less than positive.  eBay has a good resolution center which I have used before but this was really only when someone sold me something that they did not have to sell.  This happens more than you might suspect.

 

Hope that you have a great New Years and that you can use this to your advantage or at least to protect yourself, friends and family from the less than scrupulous people out there.  And by the way, some of the junk on eBay really does need to go to the e-cycle place, especially if it has been under water.

 

Best to you and those that you care about and Happy Bidding!

 

 

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The case of the misfit hand tool.

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The following is my guess to what this company is searching for. Hope you enjoy the tale..

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After searching servers throughout the world, I came across a wiki leaks article dated from 1947.

It seems as though a man was found wondering aimlessly through the New Mexico desert. He had no memory of how he had gotten there but, was visibly agitated when a small lizard scurried by his feet, while talking to authorities.

He was brought to the local hospital for observation and treatment for dehydration and exposure. Days later, while he was getting his clothes back on, he noticed something in his pocket. Plucking it out revealed a strange looking device. Not knowing what it was or how it got there, he put it back into his pocket and made his way down to the cafeteria in the hospital.

Later he was greeted by a Doctor who used hypnosis to bring back memories, so they could find out who this guy was and where he belonged.

Once under hypnosis (so the story goes) he told of wild things, crazy things, he told about being taken from his car in the middle of the night and brought aboard some sort of craft. He was so visibly shaken by the retelling of the events that the therapist had to stop the session and awaken the man for fear of a seizure or other such malady.

The two met again and again, day after day; each time getting a little more information. The good Doctor was either putting the pieces of an extraordinary puzzle together or, the twisted mind of a seriously ill man. Either way he wanted to continue as this was by far the most interesting case that this doctor had ever dealt with.

As the sessions progressed, the man told of being on a table where these creatures which stood on two feet and looked somewhat like lizards, were bringing instruments over his body to “examine” him. At this instance with incredible lucidity the man looks at the “probes” and other devices and tells the creatures “Aw Hell No!” and with much surprise breaks the constraints on the table and escapes the examining room to find himself in a maze of corridors and hallways.

As the lizard people had much shorter legs than him and long since lost their ability to run on all fours; he was able to outrun them and for several hours lurked around the bowels of the ship. While in one room, he saw all sorts of gadgets and other meters and lights and what have you as well as strange looking shafts of light, emanating from the floor to the ceiling the light pulsed with a low droning noise coming from somewhere in the ship.

He told of watching their “people” adjusting a device that they called the Quantum entanglement regulator or QER. (The precursor to the flux capacitor I am sure.) When they adjusted the QER correctly the pulsed light coalesced into a nice steady rhythm. After the two “aliens” working on the QER left; our hero went up to the QER, grabbed the “tool” off of the table and “tweaked” the QER just a little bit, as to cause the pulses of light to flash more erratically; after which, he put the tool into his pocket and left the room.

As the tool that adjusts it is made from the same metal that the QER is made from, and at the same time, the tool and the device are a match both metallurgically as well as atomically. Any other device used to adjust the QER would result in immediate destruction of the device, or so they thought.

It was not long before our hero was discovered wandering the hallways and brought back to the examining room. Once there, they wiped his memory of the events and deposited him in the middle of the desert, many miles from where they took him from.

As the aliens were really not familiar with the concept of clothing, they also did not know about pockets. Had they known, they might have searched him before they sent him back to the planets surface.

After the doctor awakens his patient he asked him about the tool. With little more than a blank look, the abductee reaches into his pocket and retrieves the tool, and hands it to the doctor.

While there is nothing visibly exceptional about the tool the good doctor laughs and tells the guy that it looks like a really poorly designed nutcracker, and hands it back to our hero. Our good doctor was now convinced that the mans’ time in the desert had left him lost in episodes of delirium and there was little more that he could do other than to get the paper to see if they could help discover who this guy really is.

News of the person found in the desert reached the media of the day, and it was not long after that before he was reunited with his loved ones. The tool ended up in the back of a junk drawer where it sat, collecting dust, until the man’s death several years later. His children then had an estate sale and the tool was sold with the “lot” of the contents of the junk drawer.

Meanwhile, when the aliens tried to leave orbit, they discovered that their Quantum Entanglement hyper drive was not “regulated” correctly and immediately dispatched a crew to regulate it. When the tool to do so could not be found they were forced to stay on our planet much longer than they had planned for. A brash decision was made to attempt to regulate the QER with something other than the correct tool, and in July of 1947, as a result of that decision, there was a crash of one alien craft inhabited by “lizard people” in Roswell…

Somewhere in a dungeon at Write Patterson Air Force base lies the remains of the craft which our people have tried for years to reverse engineer. So far the only technology that they could replicate is fiber optics and Velcro, and some claim the laser, but I tend to think we did that one.

The QER is still out of sync and because of the signals that it is emanating, had to be put several stories under ground to keep the Russians from picking it up on their spy satellites.

If they only knew that in some small antique shop lives the key to unlimited power, space travel; not only at incredible speeds, but also time, they would be ecstatic! Yes the QEHD (Quantum Entanglement Hyper Drive) also allows for easy travel both forwards and backwards in time.

Can you imagine what would happen if General Wainright at the pentagon, were to read this story on the internet and find the key to power beyond his wildest dreams, and it lives in a small antique shop? He will never see it however; as security is so tight that no computer can ever be connected to the public internet, ergo he will never read about this on Facebook. All the unlimited power that this tool controls will be lost to all of mankind forever!

Another fun fact is about the aliens themselves. Unlike the media hype, several survived and have been working in the skunk-works programs at Write Patterson and Area 51. Our government did not force them into this; they found that after getting to know us, that we are not really all that bad. As the matter of fact, one of those aliens is a celebrity of sorts; you see him on TV, selling insurance. You just think that he is CGI…..

I would also be totally remiss if I did not entertain the other theory, that this is simply a poorly designed nut cracker, so poorly designed in fact, that few were made as the nuts and or shells escaped, putting people’s eyes out. The company abandoned the idea of making this model and this is the one, the prototype that survived going back into the crucible, to be made into something more useful, like pull tabs on beer cans.

The story, people and depictions in this “article” are a complete creation of an over active imagination, and should be looked at as “entertainment.” Or are they….? The Truth is out there, and, I Want to Believe…

Update: 10-14-14

Mystery solved!

Some time ago this picture was placed on Face Book by a company that sells antiques and other one off things.  Nobody had a clue what this was or what it was used for.  We guessed that it was a tool but for what. I frequent antique stores as this type of thing interest me.

While digging around I found something that looked very similar and on the handle was a tag describing it.  This device was used to turn the flu in a stovepipe off or on, or adjust it as it would be hot.  I still like my story better but alas, the truth is out there…

-Best to you and those that you care about.