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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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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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America’s Youngest Picker Takes on Estate Sales…

Connor McCrory…Stages his First Estate Sale…

Okay, so Connor had a little help from the likes of William Seippel of WorthPoint – Martin Willis of Antique Auction Forum and Martin and Valetta Codina of Fine Estate, and lets not forget his wonderful parents – Aime and Steve.

Still, Connor McCrory conducted his first estate sale with aplomb, charm and more savvy than any other 8 year old could ever have done so…

What made this difficult estate sales process proceed smoothly for Connor, it’s simple. He had help.

Always, always, always, find someone you can trust to help you set up and stage your estate sale…never undertake the process alone…get information…and wisely use the information that you get…

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Antique Painted Parcheesi Gameboards

This post is meant to give insight into the buying and selling of Parcheesi Gameboards whether as an Estate Sales Professional or as a person who shops at Auctions or Estate Sales…

Let’s Play a Game!

…anyone remember how to play Parcheesi…?

19th Century Landscape Parcheesi Gameboard 21″ Wide by 21.25″ High sold By Pook and Pook for $11,115.00

Let me be perfectly clear, someone somewhere in America is going to find an Antique Parcheesi Gameboard worth big bucks sometime this year. I have no doubt about this. Read this post carefully, look at the images of these fantastic Parcheesi Gameboards…

Some call it “The Royal Game of India”

Late 19th Century Polychrome Parcheesi Gameboard (21.25″ Wide by 21.5″ High) Sold By Skinner for $1,067.00

There’s a big Ol Recession going on, unemployment is high, unbearably high in some areas. More and more people are selling stuff. They are looking high and low – in their old barns, and out buildings for things to sell. If you are one of these people please proceed with caution before attempting to sell your items too quickly or too cheaply…very seriously consider hiring a competent estate sales or auction professional.

But Parcheesi is as American as Apple Pie

Antique Painted Parcheesi Gameboard 20″ Wide by 21″ Long Sold By Northeast Auctions for $2,574.00

If you are one of the unemployed – If you are a person with even a modicum of experience or if you have specialized expertise in a specific area of antiques and collecting – then hit the highway, leave no stone unturned. The deals are out there. I know, I see them everyday.

Our Parcheesi is a Version of India’s Cross and Circle Game

Grain Painted Antique Parcheesi Gameboard (19.5″ Square) Sold by Northeast Auctions for $702.00

New to the Buy and Sell Antiques Game? Unsure just what’s the best kind of thing to buy? Got a few bucks burning a hole in your faded jeans? Well hold your horses! This may be a game, and it is a fun one at that, but it also is one that can leave you with a storage locker full of so called collectibles and no one in sight who is ready willing and able to buy them. And you don’t need that. The last thing you need is junk!

So research and research again…did I mention Research…not sure if I did. Please research before ya pluck your hard earned dough on stuff you know too little about.

These Parcheesi Gameboards are American, Antique and Hand Painted

Antique Painted Parcheesi Gameboard (25″ High by 25.25″ Wide) sold by Northeast Auctions for $18,560.00

All games, and the Antique and Collectible game is no different, have winners and losers…browse the antique malls and the legacy antique stores. They are filled with items that have been there for years – same old stuff, posed in the same display – with the same high prices.

As a dealer your one overall goal is to sell, not create a museum.

Be dynamic, find out what is selling, before you get too far into the game by buying the wrong stuff.

Like the best Folk Art, these Parcheesi Gameboards Command High Prices

Antique Painted Parcheesi Gameboard (21.75″ High by 22″ Wide) sold by Northeast Auctions for $18,560.00

So your Grandmother – Father – some ancient Relative has passed, and you think, now’s my chance, I am going to sell their estate all by my lonesome. All the lonesome are is lonely, especially if they make the mistake that so often happens to the ill informed by thinking they know better, they very often lose money.

Get an advocate, someone who knows their antiques and collectibles, someone who can properly help you bring your precious antiques to market.

I Think it is Possible to Find These at Estate Sale or Garage Sales

Antique Painted Parcheesi Gameboard (18.75″ High by 19″ Wide) sold by Northeast Auctions for $19.720.00

Here are three past articles on this website that will help you:

The Case of the American Aesthetic Movement Chairs That Sold for $390,000.00 By the way these were found in a Boiler Room.

The Case of the 000-42 Martin Guitar: A Love Story, and an Auction This woman used excellent judgment, by contacting a world class guitar authority and her diseased husbands cherished Old Martin then sold for more that $50,000.00.

How Colonel William C. Browne’s Pair of 1851 Navy Colts Came Out Of Hiding… These firearms were brought into an appraisal clinic by the prototypical “Little Old Lady” in a brown paper sack – she had no idea of their value – Over $70,000.00.

Cross and Circle Games Like Parcheesi are also Known as Ludo,  Parchís, and Parqués

Antique Painted Parcheesi Gameboard (14″ Square) sold by Garth’s Auctions for $430.00

If you are a picker, a want to be American Picker – you have to know that treasures are out there, that you can have your day in the sun…that you can be in the game, if you are patient and well informed.

Buying and Selling Antiques and Collectibles even without huge or obscene profits is a sure way out of the unemployment doldrums, a way to sing a different and more confident tune…but you will have to work at it. It won’t be easy. But then again what job worth doing is ever always easy?

Appealing and Eye Catching, I Wonder If Parcheesi Boards Formed The Basis For Quilts?

Antique Painted Parcheesi Gameboard (18.125″ High by 18.5″ Wide) sold by Skinner Auctions for $6,463.00

The number one way I have learned what small amount that I have learned is by asking questions. By not being too afraid to look dumb. The second best way I learned, especially in the early days of my career was to pay to play. That’s right, I hired experts.

Here’s My Favorite Antique Parcheesi Gameboard

Antique Painted Parcheesi Gameboard (19″ Square) sold by Northeast Auctions for $11,600.00

Take it easy, don’t move too fast. First develop your passion for one or another area of Antiques or Collectibles. Go to estate sales early on the first day, not at first to buy, but to see what others are buying. These early bird dealers truly have their finger to the pulse of whats hot and whats not.

All The Best To You,

Martin Codina

Other Resources:

Prices For Antiques (Our Discount Code)
RJG Antique Gameboards

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"