PREVIEW is Saturday 9/12 from 10am to 5pm
AUCTION is Sunday 9/13 starting at 10am
337 Richmond Street
El Segundo CA 90245
See you this weekend!
PREVIEW is Saturday 9/12 from 10am to 5pm
AUCTION is Sunday 9/13 starting at 10am
337 Richmond Street
El Segundo CA 90245
See you this weekend!
I try to write this blog every Sunday. I have missed the past few Sundays as Laurence and I were running an estate sale in a local town. Not only do we have our shop, Studio Antiques, we offer Estate Sale services for other folks. Increasingly, people are trying to handle this activity on their own. I thought it might be helpful to share a few points on how to run your own estate sale.
So, first things first. How is an Estate Sale different than a yard sale? Normally an estate sale includes everything in and around the house. You can expect to sell everything from the bed in the master bedroom to a half box of laundry detergent from the garage to a potted plant from the garden. People coming to your sale will open every cupboard, door and drawer. They will even try to get into your attic or basement. Make sure you are willing to be okay with this before inviting the world into your house.
In the scheme of selling antiques and collectibles, the Estate Sale is just one step up from the yard or garage sale, and one step below a live auction. Some estate sales take place off site, but I personally cannot imagine moving the contents of an entire house in order to sell them. An estate sale is the best tactic to clear an entire house fairly quickly if you have an elderly person who has passed or has been hospitalized. The preparation can time consuming; so you may want to think this through before tackling it on your own. There are all kinds of estate selling services out there.
1) What is your objective for having the estate sale? Is it to make money or empty the house? You can do both by knowing the value of your inventory. It would be a good idea to visit a few estate sales before taking your own on.
2) Everything needs to be visible to customers, so the first thing you need to do is open every cupboard and drawer. If you have the space, it helps to pull things out of the cupboards or closets (keeping the doors open) and place them on table and counter tops. Your tidy space will not be tidy for long. Arrange things as best you can so that customers can see what you have for sale.
If someone happens to live in the house or have items they don’t want anyone going through, put them all in a room or closet that you will LOCK. If you don’t remove or lock up your special property, someone will be going through it. No holds barred in the estate sale world.
3) Price as much and as many things as you can. A sharpie and some painter’s tape can help you write and stick labels on things. This is one of the most important steps, and it isn’t easy to do without experience. This is also precisely one of the reasons you may want to hire someone with experience, and is especially true for homes with antiques and/or collectibles. When items are priced, you will save a lot of time.
People will spend very little money on small items in your home including glassware, kitchenalia and everyday household items. You will be able to get more for larger furniture items, but you need to manage your expectations. If your prices are TOO high, you will end the sale with much of what you started off with. If your prices are too low, you will sell a lot but may have left money on the table.
Selling off family items can be difficult. One tends to feel a sense of higher value for sentimental things. (We often suggest that family members detach themselves from the selling activity. It is frankly less painful.)
To make pricing a bit easier for you, pick out the items you sense are worth something and check either Google or look through eBay Completed Listings. There is also a great tool called Terapeak. Terapeak allows you to review eBay completed listings for historical data. Looking at results for the past few months should provide adequate history.
Remember, it isn’t what a person is asking for an item that matters, but rather what the item sold for. Use that information as a guideline for pricing. (You will need to ask less than the online seller achieved.)
Plan to actively negotiate prices every day. Some sellers have a strategy of full price first day, a discount (25% – 50%) on the second day and an even deeper discount on the third. Do whatever seems to work. If you want to clear the house, keep that objective in mind.
4) Determine your physical layout and who is working with you. You will want at least one other person and more if you have them. Depending upon the size of the home, people can be stationed throughout the house for customer service and pricing assistance. They can also keep an eye out for people wanting to get things for “free”. Plan to negotiate to make the most of your sales opportunity.
You should always set up with a single point of entry and exit from the house. We put a card or other small table & chair at the front door where the cashier (me) can greet people entering and collect money from people exiting. This will help reduce your chance of theft.
When everything is tagged with a price, collecting money is easy. I write down all of our sales in a notebook by date, item and amount collected. That way I know exactly how much money was made and on what. I recommend accepting cash and credit cards only (Square and PayPal both have mobile credit card applications.) Check with your accountant for any rules on declaring the income.
5) Pick your sale date(s). As you are working and getting an idea of time necessary to prepare for the sale, pick an upcoming weekend for the sale to take place. Make certain there aren’t any conflicting events like the Super Bowl or Easter.
Different days of the week will bring out different customers. Fridays are good for antiques dealers. They will come out to cherry pick your best items for resale. Saturdays bring out the general populous (and may be your busiest day); while Sundays are for those folks looking for the items you are almost ready to give away.
Our sales generally run Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We start early, about 8am (sometimes 7am) and end at about 3pm. We will stay late if there are customers at 3pm. We never kick anyone out at the end.
6) ADVERTISE the sale. Where do people in your area go to find out about estate, moving or yard sales? Ask around if you don’t know. Ask a friend who likes to go to garage sales or ask the local antiques dealer. The places they suggest are the places you will want to place an ad. Sometimes the ads will be free, other times you will pay $10 to $20 for a line ad. They may be in print, online or both. Have good pictures of what is for sale that you can use in the online ads.
Suggestions for advertising are Craigslist , The Penny Saver and Estate Sales.net. You may need to budget $100 or a bit more for advertising; but it is well worth the expense. Check out the submission dates for advertising. You may have a deadline of a week earlier than the ad to get your copy in, so don’t wait until the last minute. Also, don’t forget to put up signs in the neighborhood advertising the sale on each day of the sale.
7) Prepare your tools for the sale day. I’m referring to things you might need during your sale. You have already anticipated the opening cash you will need to complete transactions, but don’t forget the other stuff. What could that include?!?
You will need some office supplies like scotch tape, pens, markers, paper and scissors. You’ll also want to remember water, snacks and/or lunch. Is it going to be cold? You might need a sweater or on the other hand maybe a hat to shield your head from the sun. Need suntan lotion? Think it through. Nothing worse than needing something you can’t go out to get.
8) D-Day is here. The night before the sale, leave a clipboard, paper and pencil at the front door. The clipboard is there so that early arrivals (there may be many) can sign the sheet. If you have an over abundance of eager beavers, the list will help you manage the number of people in the house on a first come, first serve basis.
Before you let people in, get inside. Turn on all the lights and open the cupboards and closets. Be certain your exits are closed and the only one open is where the cashier is. Keep anything small and valuable (jewelry) close to the cashier. (It is easy to have these things stolen. Even right in front of your face.)
9) What do I do with the leftover contents? Pack it up and give a call to a local charity like Salvation Army . Another good choice is Habitat for Humanity . They will accept, and often pick up, household items including furniture. You may also have some local charities you may wish to support be they a church or temple or even a homeless or other charity. You can also take a tax deduction for your donation.
We have made between $3,000 and $10,000 (or more) on a good weekend. Do your preparation and have fun. BUT. It is a tremendous amount of work and you may find it worth your while to hire an outside firm. Like Studio Antiques 😉
A couple of weeks ago, some folks came into our shop looking to consign this thing:
Was this going to be another what the heck is it? Luckily for us, there was a label on the back:
Hmm….an RCA Loudspeaker 106 Electro-Dynamic. That’s what we had to work with. So this is some sort of speaker for a radio then. I mean, look at it. Any speaker I’m familiar with wouldn’t have a tapestry image like the one on the front. This speaker was actually manufactured to look pretty, and not be just functional. Check it out. Lots of detail in the wood and in the cover so it was meant to be seen as a piece of furniture.
So what is so special about this speaker? When was it made? How much should we sell it for (and more importantly to us, was it worth taking in on consignment?)
In the early days of radio, when you bought your radio you could only listen to it with headphones. Early radios didn’t have the power to drive a loudspeaker, and early amplifiers used a horn.
Loudspeakers like these and ours were made for amplification and for use in multiple rooms. The radio remained in one particular room while loudspeakers could be placed in other rooms, allowing the radio to be heard remotely. It was common to have one particular brand of radio working with a completely different brand of speaker. More uncommon was the radio that required a particular type of speaker to work with it.
In this case, the RCA Radiola 106 speaker (ours) was RCA’s top-of-the-line accessory speaker. It was sold alone as a loudspeaker and worked with any 1920’s radio; BUT it came supplied with the RCA Theremin.
Theremin? That’s a really familiar name but I can’t remember exactly why I know about it. Was it a radio? Oh, no! Isn’t it that eery electronic music from the olden days?
Yes! The theremin was the first electronic musical instrument, pre-Moog Synthesizer, where the performer (the thereminist) played the instrument without touching it. Huh? How do you do that?
The theremin was made with two antennae. The thereminist would move their hands in the air between the antennae in order to control the pitch and the volume of the electric signals being emitted. These electric signals were then transmitted to the loudspeaker. OUR loudspeaker.
The theremin was invented by Russian, Leon Theremin, and patented in 1928. Here is a video where Leon Theremin plays his instrument:
It has an eerie, Sci-Fi sound, doesn’t it? It isn’t an everyday instrument but it has been used in many, many recordings as well as in certain movie soundtracks such as “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Even though the instrument may be foreign, the sound is familiar. The soundtrack to “The Day the Earth Stood Still” can be heard here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cPEchNTSE0
Awesome! The question now is what can we get for this loudspeaker? I found a few loudspeakers similar to ours, by Googling them, with a few selling for as little as $25 to $60. :/ Not so great for my purposes. http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/1824096 Shouldn’t it be worth more?
With a little extra work, we saw mention of one that sold on eBay for $375. Great! Our price? $399.99 plus shipping. Here is our listing:
The item sold in auction, first pass through a ten-day auction cycle. So where is it going? …… CHINA. I think there must be a thereminist somewhere in that big country. Our advice? Keep your eyes peeled for the tapestry fronted speaker. I hope you find yours for less than $50 too. You WILL make a profit. It can be, apparently, guaranteed.
Our shop is ordinarily closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Laurence and I had decided that this week we would go and have a look around the Roadium on Wednesday morning. http://www.roadium.com/ There are a lot of vendors at this market, and most of them do not have antiques or collectibles. Mondays are the best day for old stuff there, but what-the-hey…it’s Wednesday; we are off of work and the sun is out! Ready to go, empty basket in hand. You never know what we are going to find…
Because it is Wednesday, not so many sellers have old stuff with them. There are lots of clothes and tools here this particular Wednesday, but one random guy had a few interesting bits and pieces at his table. HINT: If someone is selling tools or clothes, check out the side table, maybe even at the back of the tent, where they are getting rid of what they DON’T know about…yep, you got it right. The treasures he/she doesn’t know about just might be good. Check it out:
So, WHAT is that? You tell me…
It’s a globe that has a piano hinge and opens up. Hmm…it’s about 14″ tall and roughly 9″ in diameter. It appears to be made of wood with some sort of painted plaster on the outside. The image is a woman, Mother Nature (?) embracing the globe and holding the hand of a putti (cherub) in one of her’s and a garland in the other.
The process of deduction begins. Something would be hidden inside. Something with a top that is larger on top than on the bottom. A head? Maybe a head with a wig on it? There’s no base either, just an opening. Oh! Wait! There are some markings on the base:
It reads: “COPYRIGHT LC MAYER” on the left side. And there’s something really light on the other.
It took a while and I especially needed the right light. It reads “JAN 1915”. So what have we figured out?
Next step, Google “mother earth lc mayer” https://www.google.com/search?q=mother+earth+lc+mayer&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8 Unfortunately, that wasn’t much help. How else could I describe it? I tried:
But, absolutely NO LUCK! Normally I can figure out what something is by using words to describe what it looks like, but I wasn’t having any luck or even finding any clues to lead me down the path of discovery. It was time to pull out the expert resource: www.antiquers.com This website is a wonderful gathering place of antiques collectors and experts. My feeling is that there is just too much to know for anyone to know everything; but maybe someone on the board could help. So, I posted pictures and asked the “what-the-heck-is-it?” question.
With esteemed kudos to Terry5732, here was his answer:
“It should sell for a small fortune I would think
It is a cover for a candlestick phone
WHO would have thought?!? Apparently, telephones were considered ugly and utilitarian early on, so this globe was intended to hide the telephone so that nobody could see just how ugly it was. This lady and putti are beautiful. That’s for sure.
And a little bit of telephone history: Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone is 1876. By 1892 the “candlestick phone” came into popularity and was used up until 1926.
On the left is the candlestick phone. On the right a parlor or sitting room (about 1910). You can see how this unsightly utilitarian piece just wouldn’t fit in with the beautiful items in the room. (smiley face). Also, how many people had a telephone in the early 20th century? Not many, I’d say. A telephone was probably only used by the elite, wealthy set. Not may phones to hide at that time. The globe been referred to as the Euphonia Hide-a-Phone. It was only made for a few years so they are rare and difficult to find. No wonder nobody knew what it was!
And the term, Euphonia? Well, other than referring to the tropical bird species, euphonia can be defined as referring to a pleasing mixture of sounds. Just like the telephone. And the love story? That would be us. In love with the hunt and in this case the find. Of this treasure. We LOVE it!
Do you love it too? We are selling it now. On eBay. Here. Buy it! You know you love it!
We all know about Depression Glass, right? Our grandmother’s had it. Depression glass is a clear or colored translucent glass that was given away free, or at a low cost, during the Great Depression (primarily the 1930’s). Movie theaters would give it away as a premium for coming to the pictures. Food companies, like Quaker Oats, might have placed it in a box of food as a gift for buying their item. Common colors included pink, green and amber. Certain patterns are less common today and may sell for hundreds of dollars while other patterns are more prevalent and inexpensive to collect.
Sometimes while antiquing, you may come across a canary yellow or yellow-green colored depression glass. This glassware is likely Vaseline Glass. Vaseline glass’ name came about because it resembled the color of a petroleum jelly being sold at the time.
Vaseline glass was primarily made from the 1840’s up to the middle of WWII, with its heyday from the 1880’s to the 1920’s. (During WWII, the U.S. confiscated all uranium supplies, hence the cessation of manufacture. Production began again in 1958, but most production had ceased in 1970.) There is only one way to verify that the yellow glass you have is Vaseline glass. Vaseline glass will fluoresce under ultraviolet light (black light).
Often, people use the term Vaseline glass synonymously with Uranium Glass. The truth is that Vaseline glass is uranium glass, but uranium glass is not necessarily Vaseline glass. Are you confused yet?
Uranium glass is an older term used to indicate glassware that was actually made with uranium oxide. The normal color of uranium glass ranges from yellow to green depending upon oxidation state of the glass. The use of uranium in the manufacture of glass dates as far back as 79AD, and has been found in glass tiles used in mosaic by the Romans. Here is an item we listed on eBay just this week. It is a uranium glass light shade. We have photographed it in natural and in ultraviolet light.
You can see how the green glass is really florescent under a black light. Although many, many types of pieces are made with uranium, and react to Geiger counters, uranium glass is considered relatively harmless and is only negligibly radio active. So, yes, you are safe.
Below is a great example of a lot we have available where, under normal light, the items look plain green with the same items under ultraviolet light.
So, when you are shopping for antique or vintage glassware, keep your eyes peeled for that light yellow glass. You may want to pickup a small black light torch (flashlight) so that you can test your glass for florescence. They are inexpensive and worth the $5.00 or so you would be paying. Here is an example of a source: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Black-Mini-Aluminum-UV-ULTRA-VIOLET-9-LED-FLASHLIGHT-BLACKLIGHT-Torch-Light-Lamp-/181370698449?pt=US_Flashlights&hash=item2a3a893ad1
Uranium and Vaseline glass will cost you a bit more, but the color is worth the expense.