Picking with Reyne

Picking with Reyne – Vol 6 – By Reyne Haines

June 8th, 2010 by

Have you ever misplaced your keys, and you search and search only to come up empty handed, when low and behold, they were in front of you the entire time?

I felt like that yesterday.  Like most, I’m always looking for the next bargain.   I’m always thinking, I should be hitting all the flea markets at 5am, finding out what are the new merchandise days at the thrifts, and scouring the online auction listings at the small houses because stuff slips through the cracks.

Those are the obvious, yet not so obvious places to find great stuff.  I think the hunt for those elusive items is what keeps us so excited about this business. You just never know what you will find, and where.

So yesterday I am out with my friend for lunch when she suggests we head over to this antique mall in town that I had not yet gone to.  I had heard it was nicer than some of the others in town, but it was having trouble filling all the booth space.  When I hear nicer, I immediately think, “overpriced”.

But who am I to turn down a request by a friend to look at antiques?

We walked through the door and immediately there was a display of fine art glass. My kind of stuff, but eek…the price tags were for the year 2050.  Do people really want to sell their wares, or are they just for our viewing pleasure?

There was a great array of fine porcelain and my friend bought a beautiful Victorian rattle for her daughter.

While we were walking around I spotted a modern item in one of the booths that I know is going to haunt me. You know what I mean by haunt…you leave without it, and you think about it, over and over. (Which means I’ll be going back and buying it this weekend)!

I would be perfect for my new book on decorating with antiques.  It’s not antique though.  Which leads me to another pet peeve; antique stores/malls that carry new items.  Why do you do this?  What is it you don’t understand about the word “antique”.  Mind you, vintage is acceptable, but new?

Ok so why am I thinking about this item?  Because it was cool. It was a centerpiece for a large hall table or dining room table. It had a square base with a large round sculpture on top. It was made of wood branches and shaped into a sphere.  Price: $395.00 which means I could possibly get it for $350.00

Secondly, I found the coolest modernism pendant.  A large, round black disk with a single thick silver vertical stripe going up and down the center.   The tag said Miriam Haskell. I don’t think that is who made it, but it was cool. Priced at $200.00

Finally, there was a pair of small white birdcages, probably Victorian era, priced at $45 ea.   I hadn’t talked about my obsession with birdcages just yet, but in my upcoming videos on picking, you’ll see one I recently saw at the Urban Market that caught my attention.  A white two story Victorian era cage, arched top, wooden, with disco balls hanging from the center.  I’m not a big fan of disco, but I have to admit, that would make quite the conversation piece for a room.  I’ve thought about it ever since.

I’m not sure what I would do with those pair I saw at the antique mall either. Perhaps I am thinking about a new collection!

Picking with Reyne – Vol 5 – By Reyne Haines

May 28th, 2010 by

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for reading my column and commenting on things. Your input is not only appreciated by me, but by other collectors who are reading.  Your suggestions have been great, timely and informative!

In last week’s column, Marko asked me a question that inspired this column.  He asked: “What was my favorite find and why?”

I briefly elaborated but I thought I’d go into a bit more detail here for those who catch my reply last week.

I used to run ads in the Antique Trader. For those of you who have been in the antiques world for a long time, most dealers and collectors used to consider The Antique Trader the bible. It came out on Monday every week and we all anxiously waited for the mailman to deliver it in our mailbox.

You’d rush home, and flip to the classified section in the back to see who was selling what.  This was pre eBay, pre online antique malls, digital photos, etc.  (And keep the comments to yourself, I’m not that old!)

You read listings in black and white text and had to envision what people were describing, or even if what they were describing was real.  Anything that sounded good, you picked up the phone and called on.  Time and again I’d call on things and they were already spoken for.  DRATS!

I met many pickers through this publication which was great. They went out picking all week long and would call me when they found something on my “want list”.  Some could describe things to a “T” and knew exactly what I was looking for. I’d buy it just from their descriptions and rarely if ever was disappointed.

I decided I’d place a display ad in the WANTED TO BUY section of the paper.  “Buying Tiffany lamps, glass, bronze and other art glass items.”

One day I was heading out to lunch and I received a phone call. I almost didn’t answer it because I was running late.  I grabbed the phone and it was an elderly man on the other line saying he saw my ad in the Trader.  This always got me excited. You never knew what those kinds of calls might bring.

He began describing an all too familiar piece of Steuben glass; a console bowl in amber with threading and controlled bubble decoration. It was worth about $250 and was not very exciting to me.  I told him I’d call him later in the week as he was about 40 miles out of town and he wanted me to come by and see it.

I almost forgot to call him, but when I finally did I arranged to go take a look.  There were a few small antique shops I hadn’t visited in some time along the way and I thought I’d make a day trip out of it.

I got to the gentleman’s house and low and behold, it was exactly the bowl I envisioned it to be.  YAWN.

I decided I’d buy it as I had already driven all the way out there. Boy was I glad I did. Once I made the purchase he asked me if I bought other art glass and he pulled out a decorated tendril Loetz vase which is on the cover of one of the Loetz books.  I was shocked.  I asked if he was a collector, to which he said no.  Of course my next question was “Did you inherit these items?” to which again he replied no. He then pointed and said “I found them in the barn in the back.”

You just never know what you might find in the barns of a country home!

I’d love to hear more about your favorite finds.  Comment here with your stories!

Happy Hunting!


Picking with Reyne – Shopping Abroad – By: Reyne Haines

May 24th, 2010 by

I think one of the exciting things about the hunt for treasures is going to new places.  The anticipation of what we will find, or not find, from one area to the next.

A lot of it depends on the area and the people that populate it.  Were there any major department stores in the area; was the area a place where immigrants came to live;  was the town peppered with well to do residents?

These factors don’t always equate to great picking region, but they certainly help.

It’s safe to say, I’ve been around the antiquing block in the US, but I’ve only checked out a few places abroad.  I had a great experience many years ago in Berlin; London is completely yummy and Paris, well – they have great things but with the exchange rate I bought very little.

One of our frequent bloggers on Antiques.com is Marko – an antique enthusiast from Finland.  He seems to like my picking blog so I thought I’d ask him to tell us a little more about picking in his country.

RH: Where are some of your favorites haunts to buy antiques?  Is it shops, private homes, flea markets or??

I can say that I have always open “radar”. I’m looking and looking, and I can find and enjoy.
As you know Reyne, I love flea markets and antique shops. I am an old goods “junkie” 🙂
A few years ago I did the best finds at flea markets. Today, the best hunting arena is private people. They have a genuine and good stuff, no junk stuff. People know prices are so cheap it is difficult to get. My favorite flea market is a “Bazaar” flea market. There have nice staff and these people are smiling. Smile is an important trading tool for me.

RH: I agree that a smile goes a long way, especially if you are about to ask for a better price!  Where are the best bargains found?

Places where I can find cheapest…..TOP 10

1- A private person who needs money quickly
2- People’s private yard sales
3- Traditional flea market halls
4- Summer market
5- Internet
6- Newspaper sales announcements
7- Auctions
8- Buying and selling stores
9- Antique shops
10- My home 🙂

RH: Do people go knocking on doors of people’s homes they don’t know in Finland searching for antiques?

Not anymore.  Sometimes years ago were traveling dealers. They went
to the house and asked whether they had antiques or old stuff.
Sometimes they gave the booze so that they would be easier to buy.

RH:  I had to giggle at the booze reply, but then I started to think about how often opening night at an antique show offers wine or a full bar.  Maybe they are on to something!

What was your best find ever?

Marko:  I’ve found several good bargains. This one story comes to my mind.
I bought stamps from an old man. There were 30 folders. I paid 100e ($120).

I sell them off on the same day 1500€ ($1850). Good profit, but this comes rarely.

Not the best but the funny purchase was horse carts. I paid them 20€ ($25)
Now they have my yard ornament. Peoples are smiling when they go over my yard.

Marko, thanks for being a good sport and answering all of my questions. I loved the images too!

Bookmark this site – the next installment of Picking with Reyne will be uploaded next week!

Happy Hunting!


Picking with Reyne – Vol 3 – By Reyne Haines

May 13th, 2010 by

Last week we touched a bit on some of the things you will need when hitting this summer’s flea markets.   I thought I’d expound a little more on a few of these areas.

Let’s face it; knowledge is power in the world of collecting.  It doesn’t matter if you are a dealer, or a collector – you need to know all there is to know about the items you are buying.

What you don’t know can cost you money.  No one likes making mistakes, but you are going to from time to time.   When on the road searching for those elusive treasures, you need backup.  What do I mean by backup?  A variety of tools that can help you make a wise purchase, or ones to stop you from making a bad one.

So what tools am I talking about?

  1. Bring along an array of pocket guides that will help you quickly look up items for additional information on size, colors it was made in, period it was made, any significant markings to look for, and reproduction information.  There are several publishers that have paperback guides you can throw in the backseat of the car for quick reference.  Krause Publications offers their pocket-guides online at http://www.krausebooks.com/category/antiques_collectibles
  2. A measuring tape can not only tell you the size of an item (I don’t know about you, but I am terrible at guessing the size of something) but it can also tell you if a piece has been cut down, or if it is a reproduction.  Many items were originally made in very specific sizes, and reproductions of these items are usually a little smaller or a little bigger.  By measuring the item you can often tell if the one you are looking at is new or old.
  3. A cell phone or I-pad.  Not only can you “phone a friend” but you can take a quick digital photo to show a friend or customer of an item you are considering.   Beyond the photo capabilities, you can hit the Internet to research current market value.
  4. Where to research?  There are lots of places you can go to find price realized on collectibles.  eBay of course is one place for more common items, but many of the auction houses have online catalogs with prices realized.  You can do a few keyword searches on places like Sotheby’s and Christie’s for free.  If what you are looking at falls somewhere in-between eBay merchandise and Sotheby’s worthy, try purchasing a subscription at Artfact.com or Priceminer.com.  Both sites offer photos, item descriptions, estimates and prices realized on a variety of art, antiques, collectibles, jewelry and more.

By arming yourself with these tools you certainly stand a better chance of paying the right price when you come across your next treasure!

Did you think of a tip I missed?  Make sure to comment here!

Happy Hunting!

Picking with Reyne – Vol 2 – By Reyne Haines

May 7th, 2010 by

As summer nears, we find more outdoor flea markets and antique markets opening with more dealers and larger crowds.  Surely there is a bargain out there to be found!

Before you set the alarm the night before, what are some “tools” of the trade you need to make sure to have with you on your picking journeys?

Below is my list, and I’d love to hear some of yours!

  1. A good night’s rest.  All serious buyers know the early bird finds the Declaration of Independence hidden in a frame behind the cheap painting.  If you arrive later in the day, all you will find to buy is a grilled burger and a Coke.
  2. Comfortable shoes.  Now, I am the first one to wear heels at the airport, walking around New York City, and to the grocery store, but I draw the line with flea markets and antique shows.   If the show is any good, you’ll be walking for miles; and if you are an early bird you will be running once the gates open!
  3. Cash – The offer to pay in cash can often get you a better deal than paying with a credit card or check.   In fact, there are many dealers that don’t take other forms of payment.
  4. Your cell phone!  Most phones have internet browser capabilities should you need to do some quick research.
  5. A pocket size measuring tape.  If you are trying to determine if something has been cut down, or if you want to call a client and sell an item on site, you’ll need to know what the measurements are.
  6. A loupe.  This handy little pocket magnifying glass helps you read hallmarks, tiny script signatures, and also helps us find chips & cracks and repairs which can often be hard to spot at first glance.  There is nothing worse than getting home with your bag full of goodies only to later determine there was a hairline crack you missed!
  7. A portable black light – Restoration can be easily missed, especially in the early morning hours.  Black lights give you the ability to spot restoration to paintings, pottery, glass, and more.

I would love to hear some of your picking tips – respond to the blog here!

Flea Markets – Antique Markets for the month of May:

Urban Market – Houston, Texas  May 15-16th

Brooklyn Flea – Brooklyn, NY – Every Saturday and Sunday

Picking with Reyne – Vol 1 – By Reyne Haines

April 28th, 2010 by

“Picking” seems to be the hot new word in the collecting world. A lot has to do with The History Channels new hit series, “American Pickers”.

The definition of a picker is actually one that travels around the countryside, knocking on doors, visiting county auctions and hitting flea markets buying antiques and vintage items to sell to antique dealers. Similar to what you see the guys doing on the show.

I’m sure most of you are not randomly knocking on doors hoping to find that diamond in the rough, but I’ll bet many of you have stories to tell of great finds in the field. (In fact I’m hoping you’ll share them here!)

My first venture into the world of yard sales was more like an accident than an intention. I went to drop off some things at a neighbor’s sale when something caught my eye. Let me back up here a minute by noting I was about 21 years ago, and had never been to a yard sale much less conducted one. I always thought it was just junk… you know, used clothing and broken toys.

I saw a watch in a box that I thought was pretty. I had a watch, and this one was similar in that it was silver and gold, but it was thinner and looked (to my inexperienced eye) a little classier than the one I currently owned. It had a name on it that I didn’t recognize (but would later) and I asked how much it was. $5.00

The catch was it didn’t work. Hmm, a friend of mine’s dad worked on watches and I thought maybe he could fix it. If he couldn’t – I was only out $5 – but if he could, I had a pretty snazzy looking watch for very little money.

To make a long story short, the watch was a Tissot, and the reason it didn’t work was because the battery was dead. A few days and $2 later, I had a beautiful ladies Tissot two-toned watch for $7. Beat that.

It only takes winning one of those scratch off lottery tickets to get you hooked; and boy was I. Still am, all these years later.

Each week, we’ll talk about items to look for in your travels, collectibles on the rise, or recently in the news. I look forward to hearing about your latest picks, and if you’re willing, please share some of your favorite places to find treasures in the rough – or just treasures!

Happy Hunting!