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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