You Can’t Use these Old Phones to Call Your iPhone

But still, for some reason, you wish they could.

Antique A. G. Bell Wall Telephone

Antique A. G. Bell Wall Telephone sold by Auction Team Brecker for €22,000

Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €22,000

Imagine that a wise voice from the past, a family’s wisdom, could be heard coming straight and direct from your kindly Grandmother or a Great Grandfather; without the whispering interruptions of time to distort it. These old phones, though they can’t function like an iPhone or any other smart phone for that matter, are in every way as interesting as a modern phone, though when you examine either as a metaphor, you find that both represent something dramatically different about our assumptions about the beauty of mass communications.

Because I am still a romantic at heart, I imagine that the voices of the past, that might have spoken through a wall phone like the one above, still have something to teach me, beyond the cautions and preaching of severe or pinched nosed ancestors.

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone sold by Auction Team Brecker for €1,500

Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €1,500

There is nothing portable about most of these old phones. They will not fit into your pocket or purse, they cannot store your photos, contacts, or play a movie.

And yet, and oh no, just maybe … we have drifted too far away from wired technology, or just a bit too far away from the idea that a voice can actually travel a strand of wire from one city to another. That’s a different concept of connection, one with far fewer intermediaries. Sign me up for that data plan!

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone sold by Auction Team Brecker for €4,000

Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €4,000

Even in their day, these phones were not common. You could go into a hundred different peoples homes and never see one - these beauties were rare. You might have to hitch up the families wagons and get on down to town to find one, and then wait in line to get a chance to use it – or perhaps there was a neighbor who lived a few streets over from you who had a phone, but before asking them,  you would have to think about it, was the call important enough to bother a neighbor with … perhaps a letter would suffice.

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €990

Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €990

Wall art? A statement of status? Proof of savvy, and a symbol that the person who owned one of these phones was sophisticated? In these regards times haven’t changed much, the person buying one of these incredible phones way back when, was all that, just like any early adopter of technology is.

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone

Antique Ericsson Wall Telephone Sold by Morphy Auctions for $425

Sold by Morphy Auctions for $425

Buy an antique wall telephone, and then what?

Remember, that’s what you’re going to do. Remember. And if a phone like this was made long before your time, then imagine, you’re going to imagine the lives of the people who had to interact with them for the very first time.

I am guessing that anyone who used one of these phones for the first time way back when, was in for a clumsy experience.

We are children of technology, we encounter it everyday, we are not so terrorized by it, at least most of the time. But in the early 1900′s many people must have been shy or humble while stiffly speaking into a telephone.  And then to hear someone speak back to them from across the country, that must have seemed miraculous in the extreme.

Antique Siemens & Halske Telefone Telephone

Antique Siemens & Halske Telefone Telephone sold by Auction Team Brecker for €700

Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €700

These old phones, like any of the other relics we antiques dealers dust off from time to time and offer for sale, are complex story containers.  It is not just a phone people, it’s the very real advancement of the telegraph, and it’s not just that either. It’s reach. It’s expansion. It’s the tempering of the land. It’s the call into and out of the wild…the listening to, the echos of time.

To speak into a phone on one side of the country in 1920, way across to the other side of the country, was almost, but not quite like time travel; magical.

Antique Swedish Field Telephone

Antique Swedish Field Telephone sold by Auction Team Brecker for €1,600

Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €1,600

Mass communications has many benefits and a few drawbacks. The biggest drawback seems to be a shortening of time. Better and faster forms of communications have left us less time to communicate, which is strange, because we are interacting with each other more and more, and at greater and greater speeds, but retaining less and less of the whole interaction.

Phone conversations, take more time than emailing or text messaging does; people are speaking on the phone less, which is a shame when you think about it. The voice of your friend or colleague carries so much more information about their mood and temper than a text or an email will ever accomplish.

Antique Wall Telephone

Antique Wall Telephone sold by Auction Team Brecker for €5,200

 Sold by Auction Team Brecker for €5,200

I appreciate these old phones for the way they present a society long since past – how people saw the world, how they interacted with each other, and how these phones set up a chain of events that eventually lead to better and faster forms of communications – the computer for instance.

We have far more potential than ever before to communicate with each other, so let us do so, but just a bit more carefully, taking time to listen, after all listening is more than 50% of communication.

Antique Wico Wall Telephone

Antique Wico Wall Telephone Sold by Rich Penn Auctions for $450

 Sold by Rich Penn Auctions for $450

The antique wall telephones above are from the late 1899′s to the early 1900′s.


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Are your Antiques Grotesque, Gothic, or Unusual Enough to Sell?

Are your Antiques Grotesque, Gothic, or Unusual Enough to Sell?

I certainly hope so!

Martin Brothers Grotesque bird stoneware jar sold by Rago Auctions for $30,000

Martin Brothers Grotesque Stoneware Bird Sold By Rago’s for, $30,000 

It doesn’t matter if you are a buyer or a seller, this maxim is always true, Unusual Trumps “Normal” in the antiques and collectibles marketplace. “Crazy”especially “Olden Days Crazy”sells quicker than whatever is sane and boringly predictable.

The pottery on this page, circa late 1800′s, is proof of this, judging by the prices these pieces sold for.

Here is a link to the history of Martin Brothers Pottery.

Get out of whatever antique box you’ve been in

Martin Brothers Large double stoneware face jug Sold By Ragos Auctions for $10,000

Martin Brothers Double Stoneware Face Sold by Rago’s for $10,000

When I started in this business, I read several books about the industry and there was one book in particular that offered up a piece of advice that I have always remembered. Curious enough, I don’t remember the title of the book, but this sterling piece of advice I have turned into a skill – “In order to succeed in this business, you have to find ways to distinguish your stock from the stock of other antiques dealers, and that the best way to do that is to only buy things that you can say this of – “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Estate sales are the same way, in order to have a successful estate sale, you have to include some of the more unusual items from your estate into the sale. If you are an antiques dealer, try your best to find the most unusual items you can, and include them in with your general stock or inventory.

Even after almost 20 years in the business, this is still my principal buying strategy – if I see something for sale at a flea market, estate sale or even at an antiques store that I have not seen before, I take notice, ask questions , then I generally take the leap, and buy it.  I have been very successful employing this technique.

Find Crazy, and Sell Crazy Antiques

Martin Brothers Stoneware Wally Bird  Tobacco Jar sold by Skinners Estimate $12,000 - $18,000

Martin Brothers Wally Bird Tobacco Jar Sold by Skinner’s for $59,250

Anyone can source, find and offer for sale a bin table, or a mahogany sideboard, or stock their antiques store full up with Victorian furnishings, but the dealer who can find something like the Martin Brothers pieces pictured in this post, that dealer gets invited to the best parties. Don’t you want to go to the best parties? Of course you do!

Today’s Marketplace Demands “The Extraordinary”

Martin Brothers Stoneware Grotesque spoon warmer Sold By Ragos Auctions for $5,500

Martin Brothers Stoneware Spoon Warmer Sold By Rago’s for $5,500

Don’t make yourself too nuts about sourcing out items that you will be able to sell for more than $25,000 though, there aren’t too many of those around. Instead concentrate on what is more easily achievable – there are hundreds of categories of items waiting to be found by you at flea markets, local auctions or estate sales; those that could be purchased for a few hundred dollars and then sold for as much as $500-$1,000. Look for items that have a bit of an edge, that are strange or crazy – that have that certain “Unusual Cool” factor going for them.

It’s not how much the items you buy are worth that is so important, the trick to having a store crowded with shoppers is to find items that buyers want, and today, many shoppers are demanding stuff that is “Quirky.”

Find and offer that type of merchandise for sale, and you’ll never go hungry.

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Can You Sell Vintage Ivory at an Estate Sale?

Yes, well I mean, maybe
…let me explain…


Material Culture Auctions (Estimate $700.00)

In the viewpoint of the marketplace there really are two kinds of ivory. Contemporary Ivory and Vintage/Antique Ivory. Each of these two categories of ivory are treated very differently. In the case of contemporary ivory, you don’t stand much of a chance legally selling it, in most of the US. Its sale has for many obvious and good reasons been banned here in the U.S. In the case of Vintage and Antique Ivory, proper sales channels do exist, in other words there are places you can sell  Vintage and Antique Ivory.

But you have to be careful.

How you sell Antique or Vintage Ivory
depends on what state you live in


Main Auction Gallery (Estimate $700.00)

In California, there is a high burden of proof to certifying the age and provenance of ivory. Just because you say it is old, or that it looks old, does not mean that it is old. Other states in the country seem to have more tolerance towards the sale of Vintage and Antique Ivory. So if you live in California, you will want to check in with the larger auction houses in the Mid-West and the East Coast, to see how they may be able to assist you.

Use common sense, ask lots of questions.

It is likely best to send your Ivory to Auction


Sant’Agostino Auctions (Estimate €30,000)

If I had antique ivory items like those above, there is no part of me that would want to offer them for sale in an estate sale, and I conduct estate sales. So, please heed my caution; ivory items of an extraordinary nature need to be offered for sale in one of the better auction houses in order to have them generate the sales results they deserve, national auction houses have far better ways of attracting the best national buyers. They get better results.

But make sure that the state where the auction house resides, has laws allowing for the sale of Antique or Vintage Ivory. Confiscations have occurred at auction houses, and once your ivory has been confiscated, there may be very little chance that you will ever be able to get your item(s) back.

Many Bronze Statues also Contain Ivory

Bronze and Ivory Statue by Edouard DROUOT Circa 1859-1945)

Antiques Supermarket (Sold for $18,000)

The biggest threat to your vintage or antique collection of ivory is that it might be confiscated at its point of sale. At this time in the U.S. for antique or vintage ivory, there is no prohibition to its ownership, there are only some restrictions to its sale, and these restrictions vary state by state. So learn the law and how those laws pertain to you.

Of course, as I usually suggest, get professional advice, it’ll save you so much potential frustration. Who needs to have their legal to own ivory, confiscated because of a faulty sales strategy? No one!

Here is a guide that can help a bit: A Guide to Wildlife and Plant Protection Laws

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Conducting Your Own Estate Sale? Don’t Lose Your Marbles!

Conducting Your Own Estate Sale? Don’t Lose Your Marbles!

It’s going to be difficult no doubt, but an estate sale is still the best way to sell personal property!


When you face a financial difficulty, you call an accountant, CPA. or at the very least, a bookkeeper.

If you face legal challenges, you call the best attorney that you can afford.

When you sell your home, most of you wouldn’t try to do so without hiring a Realtor.

You hire the above people because, it is the prudent course of action to take in order to best protect your assets, and or freedoms. You expect to pay these people, and hiring professionals also saves you tons of aggravation.

So why, would you ever consider Staging your own Estate Sale

Money, that’s what it often comes down to; people trying to save a few bucks will drive themselves mad, because they either think that estate liquidators charge too much, or they think that they can’t find someone they can trust.

Folks, give yourself a huge emotional break, find someone you can trust. Hire a professional. Save yourself the time and heart wrenching experience of conducting your own estate sale. Estate sales are hard enough for professionals to pull off, you may not stand a chance if you try to do your own estate sale. You more than likely will get picked!

Find Estate Sales Help

Read my Book: Liquidating and Estate

Find Local Estate Liquidators: Estate Sales.Net

Ask Questions: 20 Questions to ask an Estate Liquidator

It Takes Heart to Do Estate Sales Well, and These Two Ladies Have Plenty

I think this is a fun video from Renne Poole and her daughter Jessica – they conduct estate sales in the Las Vegas Area – Call Renee Estate Liquidation

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Could you have found this Action Comic #1 at an Estate Sale?


Cover of ACTION COMICS-1938 #1 Sold at Auction via Comic Connect.Com

Cover of ACTION COMICS #1 Sold for $2,161,000 at auction via Comic Connect.Com

(Graded a Very High 9.0)

This incredible comic, is like the Holy Grail of collectibles. Is it a mere stack of stapled, and folded funny book paper…a child tome of fantasy, a way out of the gloom of the impeding European war…a fluff piece of entertainment, never meant to be worth more than the .10¢ published purchased price?

A lot can happen on the way to a collectible becoming a collectible. The character of this Action Comic becomes an almost overnight sensation – the iconic man of steel, Superman. It is thought that of the 250,000 copies of this classic that were printed, only about 100 survive today.

Why does this matter?

This is a tale of two superman comics. One in unbelievably pristine condition…and one so tattered, soiled and dog-eared that it sells for less that a tenth of the price of the pristine Action Comic.

Condition Determines Value!

Cover of Action Comic #1 Sold at auction for $175,000 via Comic Connect.Com
This comic sold in 2013 at Comic Connect.Com for $175,000, you can read more about it here: Ken’s Korner
(Graded a Very Low 1.5)

What can you do if you find a comic like this…?

If you are an executor of an estate trying to figure out the difference between these two grades of comics (1.5 and 9.0), you will be at a real dis-advantage. Sure, you will be able to see some of the condition differences between the two, but are you the person who can tell the difference between a comic graded 2.5 and 4.5? This difference could be worth $25.000.

It takes years of experience to be able to understand the differences that exist within each grade, in the comic book grading systems. Here is a link to the Heritage Auctions Comic Grading Tutorial Page.

My firm suggestion, is that you seek out the advice and feedback of trusted experts…look for people who will act as your advocate, not people who are looking only to buy…

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