Archive for June, 2010

American Pickers Returns to History Channel – by Reyne Haines

June 21st, 2010 by

America’s favorite new TV show launched its first episode of Season 2 on June 7th.  A staggering 4.3 million viewers tuned in to follow Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz on their next great picking adventure.

Mike & Frank are once again on the hunt for more – Rusty Gold – digging through barns, salvage yards, and a burned down storage facility in search of forgotten treasures.

The first episode we watch Mike get taken advantage of by Buddy the Booby Trap man.  Had he only listened to Frank!  I couldn’t help but whistle the theme to “Sanford and Son” while watching them climb around some the broken down bus filled to the brim with junque.  It would seem like they have to pick many a pile before striking gold.

Finally, they get a lead on a property with a few cars.  Over the years I have managed a few car collections, and have found a few great cars in barns myself.  It never ceases to amaze me how one day you pull a car in a garage, and then it is left to sit for 10-20 years.  At the end of the day, the 1950 Studebaker they managed to score was a well earned reward.

So it’s no mystery I like this show.  I love what it represents; two guys who have a passion for adventure, and who get excited every day with the thrill of the hunt.  That aside, I wanted to know more about these guys.  I wanted to really know how deep their passion runs for this stuff.

I emailed Frank a few weeks ago, alas his taping schedule has kept him tied up, and I don’t think he spends as much time on email I do – so I hit up Mike for an interview.  I have to say it’s really weird interviewing someone. It is usually me in the hot seat.  I thought about a lot of questions that have been asked to me over the years and then trashed the list and decided to “free style”.

Poor guy sounds exhausted when I first get on the phone with him.  He’s been on the road up to his ears in rotted hams and dust bunnies.  I really felt bad about taking some of his downtime away for my interview, but don’t you know as soon as we started talking about picking, he completely came back to life.

I learned we had a good bit in common.  He started Kindergarten at the age of 4, and so did I.  He was raised in a single family home, so was I.   He had a thing for bikes at the age of 4.  At 4 I was racing my bad-ass red tricycle around the house with my mother’s sunglasses on narrowly missing the wall as I took the corners at amazing speeds.

Seriously, Mike’s passion for collecting did start at the age of 4.  One day on his way to school he saw a few bikes in the trash at someone’s home. He ended up cutting school and took them all back to the garage at his home. This is where the similarities stop, because I didn’t start cutting school until like 10th grade.

His interest in vintage items didn’t end as a kid.   In later years, he wanted to decorate his home with vintage things, and to this day, he still has a passion for bicycles.   I must sadly admit I never kept that red trike, or the bubblegum pink Huffy I had.

I know earlier I said I decided against the standard reporter questionnaire, but I did want to know one thing.  Did he have a Fine Arts degree, or any formal schooling for the world of antiques?  I get asked that question a lot.  In case you are wondering, the answer is no – and I was betting that was going to be his answer as well.   Sure enough, he had learned from the school of hard knocks; trial and error; experience.  I personally think you learn more that way in this business.

The conversation came to a serious note at one point when we talked about picking.  He noted the level of thrill he gets from being first to pick things.  He expressed how he did not want to be the middle man, or have an item sold to him that had been sold a few times around.  There is a simple old school joke that explains it all; “There were two antique dealers on a deserted island…business was good!”

In the world of collecting, items are often picked, then sold to a dealer, then another dealer and maybe even a third dealer before finally going to a collector.  Wolfe has no interest in being on the receiving end of a phone call from a dealer offering their newly polished prize up for sale.

Mike & Frank have been in this business for quite some time.  With all they have seen, I had to know what would be the ultimate pick.  Mike, the ever passionate bike guy gave me not one, but two answers; First, was anything Harley Davidson, pre 1910.  Second would be a Blackhawk motorcycle.  Apparently this bike was made not far from his home and a complete model has never been found.

So any of you reading that happen to have one of these in your backyard and you want to be on TV, you know who to call.

In the meantime I’ll be watching to see if the antique Gods smile upon you and grant that wish.  However, may I note that I’m pretty sure the oil lamp you were looking at in the first episode of Season 2 is called an Aladdin lamp.  Perhaps you could have rubbed it and made a wish!

Happy Hunting guys!


Rago’s No Reserve Discovery and Great Estates Auctions

June 16th, 2010 by

Discovery Auction – June 18th  10am

Great Estates Auction – June 19th  12pm

Furnishings by Gustav Stickley, L&JG Stickley, Charles Stickley, Stickley Bros, Limbert, Roycroft, J.M. Young, Plail.

Pottery, Ceramics, metal and Glass by Rookwood, Grueby, Newcomb, Ohr, Fulper, Marblehead, Saturday Evening Girls, North Dakota School of Mines, Wheatley, Hampshire, Peters & Reed, Van Briggle, Kipp, Heinrichs, WMF, Heintz, Tiffany Studios, Steuben, Durand, Weller, Roseville, Dow. American Art pottery by Grueby, Fulper, Volkmar, Marblehead.

Steiff’s very own cover girl!

June 15th, 2010 by

There are many great reasons to start a community site. Steiffgal created MySteiffLife so collectors from all over the world would have an online destination to learn and share information about vintage playthings from this remarkable toy company from Germany.

That being the case, Steiffgal wanted to share this brief note from a collector in Germany who sheds some light on a Steiff mystery (at least to those of us here in the USA) that’s at least a few dog years old. Awhile back, Steiffgal wrote a post about a darling and beloved Steiff Cocker Spaniel dog named Revue Susi. Susi is sitting, made from blond mohair, and head jointed. Her head is quite detailed and completely adorable; she has large plastic pupil eyes, airbrushed “eyebrows” and lips, pronounced doggy jowls, and floppy ears made of long, lush mohair. Revue Susi was produced in 4 sizes – 12, 17, 28, and 35 cm – from 1959 through 1977.
One of the things that is really unusual about Revue Susi is her name. For some reason, Revue Susi is the only Cocker Spaniel with a name other than Cockie.  Why is that?  Check out Claudia’s note to find out!  She writes…
“Hello Steiffgal,

Just found your wonderful blog on the internet. And I am happy that I can clarify the mystery over the name of Revue Susi for you.

Revue was a German people-magazine from 1946 to 1966. Its mascot dog was Susi. But I believe that Susi was a dachshund (as there was a prize winning game, where you could win a sibling of Susi and the dog to be won was a dachshund!).

In the attachment you can see a picture of Susi on the front cover of the magazine.”

Best collector wishes from Germany, Claudia”

Claudia, on behalf of all the Steifflife readers, many thanks for this wonderful information on Revue Susi and the delightful magazine cover showing her probable namesake!  What an interesting story!  Steiffgal is certain that everyone would agree that this photogenic pup certainly lives up to her the covergirl (Steiffgal means cover dog!) legacy.

Do you know any Steiff insights you would like to share? Send them to Steiffgal at so she can share them here with our wonderful growing community of Steiff collectors.

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let’s talk! Click here to learn more.

The Art of Picking – with Reyne Haines – #2

June 15th, 2010 by

Reyne returns to the Urban Market outside Houston to ask various vendors about their wares, while she hunts for nuggets of valuable information to pass on.


June 15th, 2010 by

Market Preview going on now, 12PM to 7PM until July 10 & 11 when the market time changes from 9AM to 4PM for our Grand Opening.


  • The largest year-round vendor market in the Philadelphia Area consisting of 200 vendors!
  • Vendors selling ORGANIC, locally grown and produced FOOD and food products, ARTS and CRAFTS, CLOTHING, ANTIQUES, vintage goods and collectibles.
  • The Market at the Piazza will continue year-round every Saturday and Sunday, from 9AM to 4PM on both days.


  • $100,000 being spent on press to advertise!
  • Our GRAND OPENING WEEKEND is Saturday July 10 and Sunday July 11, 2010 from 9AM to 4PM on both days.
  • ***The Grand Opening Weekend is FREE for all 200 SELECT vendors.***
  • Vendors MUST apply online at
  • You will be selected via EMAIL to participate in the Grand Opening.


  • There is no place like it in the region!! Located at the award-winning Piazza at Schmidt’s complex in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia
  • The Market at the Piazza is easily accessed by public transportation and highways, with abundant parking at 2nd & Germantown Avenue!
  • The Piazza is doubling the size of its current parking lot.
  • The Piazza is an absolute lock on becoming a NATIONAL TOURIST ATTRACTION – recently featured as one of “SIX PHILLY GEMS BEYOND THE LIBERTY BELL” on CNN


  • $100/weekend or $75/day, after July 17th: $80/weekend or $40/day
  • Student discount: 20%
  • Bulk discount: 10% for 5 ,6, 7, 8 or 9 weekends, 15% for 10 or more weekends


  • Call us: 215-467-4603
  • Email us:
  • Tables, tents, and chairs are available to rent every day!
  • Reserve in advance or pay same day – it’s that easy!

The Piazza at Schmidt’s
2nd & Germantown Avenue, Below Girard
Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA 19123
215-467-4603 –

The Art of Picking – with Reyne Haines – #1

June 15th, 2010 by

First in the series of videos presented by to provide collectors with tips on picking antiques. In this episode Reyne visits the Urban Market outside Houston, TX and discusses basic picking tips that will make your next picking adventure more productive and hopefully, profitable.

East meets West June 26-27 as Austin Auction Gallery presents European Antiques and Religious Treasures of French Colonial Vietnam

June 14th, 2010 by

AUSTIN, Texas – The stellar Whit Hanks collection of European antiques and Vietnamese French Catholic religious relics serves as the centerpiece of Austin Auction Gallery’s June 26-27 East Meets West cataloged Estates Auction. A total of 600 lots will be offered, 350 coming from the Hanks collection.

Owner of a high-profile antiques center located in Austin’s original Coca-Cola bottling plant, Whit Hanks is also a real estate developer known for rescuing and relocating two complete 19th-century Vietnamese churches to a country property in Dripping Springs, near Austin.

“Mr. Hanks is an antiques icon in Austin and always ahead of the next collecting trend,” said Austin Auction Gallery associate Chris Featherston. “He owns the city’s premier multi-dealer gallery and is known for his impeccable taste in European antiques and Mexican religious art, which he bought and sold for nearly 30 years before discovering the colonial treasures of Vietnam.”

French 8½-foot-tall gold leaf mirror with a carved putto and wolves’ heads. Austin Auction Gallery image.

Initially drawn to antiques after inheriting his grandfather’s lavishly furnished New York apartment in the 1970s, Hanks made dozens of trips to Europe in pursuit of architectural antiques. “He would bring back spectacular stained glass and monumental mirrors, similar to the 8½-foot-tall gold leaf mirror with a carved putto and wolves’ heads that’s included in the June sale,” said Featherston.

The auction’s inventory list is also rife with evidence of Hanks’ attraction to offbeat items that aren’t standard fare in an antique gallery – things like the 30 to 40 antique terra-cotta olive jars acquired in northern Spain, each of substantial heft and standing 3½ feet tall. “If Mr. Hanks saw something he knew was special and there was a shipping container large enough to accommodate it, he would buy it,” Featherston said.

Whit Hanks’ appreciation for religious icons began in the 1980s, Featherston said, and some of his purchases were made at sales conducted by Austin Auction Gallery. “At that time, we’ve been told that it was possible to buy retablos in Mexico, six for $10. The interest in these objects was not all that great back then, but now those same retablos may be valued at $2,000 to $3,000 apiece.”

In 2007, while visiting his son who lives in Asia, Hanks discovered and made an immediate connection with the French-influenced religious antiques and architecture of Vietnam. He began to buy the relics with the same fervor that spurred his earlier trips to Europe and Mexico. Now headed to auction, the Asian collection includes more than 40 antique French colonial statues up to 45 inches tall, several relief-carved religious panels – one of them after a 15th-century Italian painting – carved altar adornments and stone heads; and a compartmented Vietnamese marriage box with lacquered faux-tortoiseshell lid. These beautiful artworks would find a fitting home in either of the two French religious cabinets to be auctioned.

An extensive selection of carved Chinese and Japanese ivories will be auctioned. Shown here is a tripodal censer with dragon motif. Austin Auction Gallery image.

The sale also features property from several distinguished estates, including art and ivory from the Marshall estate, formerly of New Orleans. Thirty pieces of Chinese and Japanese ivory will cross the auction block, including an extraordinary chess set whose “kings” each measure 12 inches tall, a profusely carved censer on tripod feet, and other fine carvings featuring deities and elders. A walking cane collection includes examples that are entirely of ivory as well as some that feature carved-ivory heads of dogs and other creatures.

A small but highly select collection of swords includes an early 19th-century showstopper of Indo-Persian origin. The sword’s decorative gilt grip and guard terminate in a three-dimensional horse-head form with jeweled ruby eyes. A foliate-decorated scabbard completes the regal presentation of this connoisseur’s edged weapon.

In the fine-art section of the sale, one of the most sought-after names in Texas regional art, Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922), is represented by a signed, oil-on-canvas landscape painting of a quintessential Hill Country scene. Handsomely framed, the artwork titled Springtime II, Texas, Bexar County measures 11¼ inches by 8½ inches and is additionally signed and titled on verso.

The furniture category is led by a circa-1880 Eastlake bedroom suite with marble-top dresser, a Victorian half-tester bed, and numerous pieces of French furniture, including a large oak vasselier.

American half-tester bed. Austin Auction Gallery image.

An Italian crystal chandelier of near-diamond shape has a drop length of 38 inches and a width of 34 inches. Another lot expect to light up the gallery on auction day is the late-19th-century bronze chandelier with six lights on arms formed as winged griffins.

Additional items of note include a pair of marble lions that formerly guarded the entrance to a palace in India, 2-ft.-tall Murano millefiori glass eggs converted to lamps, several 18th-century French clocks, a pietre dure table, a circa-1900 Ernst Plank (Germany) magic lantern with 23 colored-glass slides, and a selection of Native-American art highlighted by a circa 1200 A.D. to 1350 A.D. Southwestern pottery bowl. An actual cage-style elevator from a Paris building would be a guaranteed conversation-starter in any home.

All forms of bidding will be available for Austin Auction Gallery’s June 26-27 East Meets West sale, including live via the Internet through For additional information, call 512-258-5479 or e-mail View the fully illustrated catalog online and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at Visit Austin Auction Gallery’s Web site at

Susanin’s – Fine Art & Antique Furniture, Decorations & Jewelry

June 14th, 2010 by

Auction: June 19th, 2010

Preview: June 14th – 19th

Shakespeare said … To be or not to be……antiques ??

June 11th, 2010 by

Submitted by Marko Karinen

1. Real antique Finnish renaissance chair, which is manufactured in the 1600s. It is made of wood nails.

2. Renaissance chair manufacturer’s signature (DS = Daniel Snikker )

3.Wood nails, we know that the chair is really old.

4.Brass screws will tell you that the Art Nouveau coat rack is old .

5.New and old screws and nails ( one drill pin)…..rusty screw is always better than a shiny screws, when we talk about antiquity.

Stair Auctioneers & Appraisers

June 11th, 2010 by

The Collection of Douglas S. Cramer & Hubert S. Bush III

Dogwood Farm

Roxbury, CT

Exhibition – June 11th – 26th, 2010