No Egrets Antiques has just completed our third antique show of this new year. Our first was held in West Bend, WI in January. Cold, but the snow kept away and turn-out was very high! As always, the N. L. Promotions’ events are well attended and offer top-quality vendors.
The second was in Wausau, WI on a very cold winter weekend. At this time of year Wausau is snow ski country and the sport is for the hardy outdoor types. But we were set up inside the D.C. Everett High School and the droves of customers provided our booth with constant action for two full days. They came to buy! This show and our St. Norbert’s Show were put on by AR Promotions and Audre’ and Ray really do things right.
This last endeavor was a flip of what we had expected. Weather was kind to us, but buyers were not. The venue was at St. Norbert Collage in DePere, WI, and the gym was filled with many of the same dealers that were in Wausau. We were very pleased to see the crowds pour thru on both Saturday and Sunday. But!! After talking with many of our friendly competing dealers, the consensus was that the visitors left their purses and wallets at home. Still a good show, but not up to our expectations.
And so goes the life of an antique dealer. Wait until our next show. We’ll bring better antiques or maybe lower end items. Better glass, or depression glass? Probably not, it is not selling up to its potential. Victorian period? No, we need to bring more Mid Century Modern. Sports items? Always hot. Jewelry always sells so do post cards. Yippee! Post cards and jewelry. And probably some delightful prints and paintings for home decorating This is also a great show for outdoor items for your yard decor and also heavy-metal for your man-cave. That’s what we will bring to our next event.
Our next show will be in Elkhorn, WI, (another N.L. event) and it’s always a super show for both collectors and decorators and sellers, with Inherited Values and No Egrets in booths next to each other – Row two # 216.
This is an antique stamp hammer, and part of lumber history. A stamp hammer was used to make “end marks” on lumber and logs. These end marks are much like bands in that they are used to identify cattle. Like cattle brands, end marks and bark marks (cut with an ax), were symbols of identification and ownership. As such, the log marks were registered with the state. In fact, “sinkers” or “deadheads” with log marks still belong to the owner of the mark.
While your lumber doesn’t exactly mosey on off down the prairie, lumber was left to float on down the river to a sorting works (or boom, which had many divisions, called pockets), or shipped with other logs to a lumber company via railroad flat car. In either case, unmarked logs meant lost property. Like stray cattle found without a brand, a stray log without an end mark was a finders-keepers prize which could be kept. If unmarked logs were found, the finder could use their own stamp hammer to make it their own property; but when unmarked logs were found while sorting, the company would put the logs into a “bull pen”. The contents of the bull pen were auctioned off to the highest bidder and the boom company or mill would keep the proceeds.
As for identifying stamp hammers, you are looking for hammer with a three to eight pound cast iron head with a design on it. Like branding irons, the marks on stamp hammers are cast backwards so that the embossed design can be read properly when struck into the wood. The wooden handle of a stamp hammer is about three quarters the length of a common ax handle.
My most recent Collectors Quest column was about primitives. Within a few hours of that column being published, I received an email about one of the items in the photographs, a small-to-medium sized antique keg or barrel.
I just saw a photo on your post I’d like info on. It was a primitive barrel-like container with a stoppered hole on top.
I recently obtained something very similar and don’t have a clue as to what it is. Can you tell me?
There are no labels or markings on this keg; no clues inside to what it once held. And, being handmade, there are many variations in size and design on barrels and kegs. The keg in the photo is now in our booth at Exit 55 Antiques, but to help you identify it, let me describe it in more detail. The keg stands between one and two feet tall. It’s made of tin, or other thin and light metal, covered in wood. (You can spy the metal through thin gaps in the wooden pieces.) There is a corked-hole, slightly off-center, at the top. The construction itself tells us what this was likely used for.
The hole at the top tells us that this barrel once held liquid. Where the hole is positioned tell us that the liquid was to be poured out. And the stopper at the top tells us that the liquid was likely poured out in small amounts at a time, rather than completely emptying the barrel all at once.
The tin or other lightweight thin metal also suggests a fluid. The wood used to cover the inner metal barrel was likely applied to protect the thin metal from punctures as well as to add strength to the piece, avoiding accidental ruptures. At the same time, use of wood keeps the piece relatively lightweight. (Had thicker metal sheeting been used, this keg when full would be very heavy and difficult to pour from.)
As mentioned, there are no obvious clues to what liquid this antique barrel may have contained. I’m sure scientific testing would provide results; but I’d rather save my money for buying more collectibles. *wink* Plus, like many primitive pieces, barrels like this were reused and repurposed. So even if we knew what it last held, it may not have been what it originally contained.
The best guess hubby and I have is that this antique primitive barrel was used to store household oil, like oils for cooking, kerosene for lamps, benzine and naptha for cleaning and other uses in the home. But honestly, there are a lot of options in types of fluids used back in those years — many of which likely occurred over the life of just one barrel.
I was driving through Downtown Fargo on August 2nd, on my way to drop something off for a client, and something shiny caught my eye. When I realized what it was, I hurriedly found place to park so I could go take a picture. This car was parked next to the Fargo Police Department’s offices, on 3rd avenue north:
This is a 1962 Chevrolet Biscayne, in police cruiser mode, decked out in full Fargo Police Department regalia. My first thought was that the car was some sort of promotional fun vehicle, made by the police department for public relations purposes, like Moorhead’s DARE Corvette, or to honor some anniversary. I checked the news to see if there was anything special going on that would require the presence of a vintage police car, but came up empty. So, I went to the source: I called the cops.
Deputy Chief Pat Claus is the man behind the wheel, but the special event this morning was nothing more than the installation of new tires. Claus explained that this patrol car is one of two that belong to the Law Enforcement Museum at Bonanzaville, and he was getting it ready for an appearance at Cruisin’ Broadway that night. He and his wife, Kim, also a police officer, take the car out for special events like Cruisin’ Broadway, West Fargo’s Night to Unite, the Battle of the Badges, and last Christmas they even delivered gifts — they are the “Claus” family, after all — as part of Random Acts of Christmas Cheer.
Both of the classic FPD cruisers are Chevrolet Biscaynes, the 1962 seen above and an also-restored 1967. The Biscayne was the low end of the Chevrolet line, with not quite as many bells-and-whistles as the similar Bel Air or Impala. They were reliable and oriented towards the fleet market, which resulted in the Biscayne fulfilling the role of police car throughout the U.S. during the 1960s.
Claus’ cars did not belong to the Fargo police department, exactly: they were part of the Fargo Police Reserve, also known as the Fargo Auxiliary Police, a volunteer force trained in law enforcement who supplied their own equipment. The Reserve purchased the patrol cars for their duties, sometimes with a police officer riding along, patrolling the downtown Fargo area. Prior to urban renewal‘s messy reimagining of downtown in the 1970s, teens cruised Broadway in defiance of curfews and fights broke out in the bars along NP Avenue, giving the Reserve plenty to do. The Reserve was created in 1958, with their heydays during the 1960s, but by the 1970s there was some conflict between their duties and the regular police force, and by 1980 the choice was to revamp or eliminate the Reserve. Police Chief Anderson and Mayor Lindgren elected to disband.
The Fargo Police Auxiliary Association later packed up their garage, formerly located near the 7th avenue water tower, and moved it to Bonanzaville. It became the Law Enforcement Museum at Bonanzaville, a ‘museum in a museum’, according to Claus, operating somewhat independently, with its own board of directors and with support from the Auxiliary Association and the Fraternal Order of Police. This is where the 1962 police cruiser sleeps most nights, in a part of the building that isn’t currently open to the public. The 1967 cruiser lives in underground parking downtown, and is the usual car Claus takes to public events because it’s easier to get to.
Although both cars are still largely in their original form — Claus said that, up until the police department went digital, even the two-way radios were still functional for police business — their age has required a little bit of restoration to stay in top shape. The cost of repairs has been covered through cooperation from the city, the museum, the Claus’ own contributions, and through the support of local businesses. Claus said that, when the 1967 car needed tires, Fargo Tire replaced them for free — and when he brought the 1962 car in today, he didn’t even have to ask; Fargo Tire replaced the tires pro bono. Claus refers to the cars as “ambassadors”, a friendly presence for connecting with the Fargo Police Department and the Law Enforcement Museum. He said that everyone loves seeing the old police car, and people who were around during the 1960s always have a story to tell about them. Claus joked, “but none of them have a story about themselves sitting in the back, of course.”
I found this antique tin advertising piece at the flea market this past Sunday. The little clay marble or ball inside it intrigued me… At first, I wasn’t sure if it had inadvertently stuck itself in there, but it rolled back and forth freely and there was a hole in the back that looked like a manufacturing punch to insert the ball. I played with it a few minutes… Rolling the ball back and forth. Not the worst game ever; but not exactly riveting either.
An older man watched me playing with the piece, so I looked up and asked him, “Do you know what this is?”
“I know,” I responded politely, “But what was it for?”
By now another older man had joined us and they both simultaneously replied, “It’s a towel holder.”
Ah, so that was it!
Having played with it, I decided to honor the dealer’s time (and patience) by buying it. Then returned back to hubby, who was waiting in our sales booth (yeah, we were supposed to be making money, not spending it; but that’s how flea markets go!) I was pretty sure if I’d never seen one, I could stump him.
But since a huge part of my interest in collecting is learning, my enthusiasm didn’t stop.
This antique advertising piece is from the Mahlum Lumber Company of Brainerd, Minnesota, (the lumber business formed in 1904, but incorporated in 1914) and it promotes the company as “The House Of Dependable Lumber & Coal.” But, unless you collect such advertising pieces, that’s probably not the most interesting part.
Called “The Erickson Towel Holder“, this antique tin piece was made by the C. E. Erickson & Company of Des Moines, Iowa, “Manufacturers of Advertising Specialties” and, according to the original box of one of these towel holders, “Makers of the ‘Result-producing Quality Line.'” C. E. Erickson & Co. were also creators/owners of a number of patents. However, the only patent I see for a towel holder is for a paper towel holder (one I am quite familiar with). Yet that one doesn’t seem to bear the name “The Erickson Towel Holder”.
The Erickson Towel Holder ought to have been patented (and perhaps it was; I just didn’t find it), because it really is a neat contraption.
Good-Bye Unsightly Nails and Disfigured Walls.
No torn towels — no towels on the floor — increased life to the towel and a convenient place for it.
Through the use of this Holder the towel is held by either end — or by the center, increasing the service and life of the towel.
As a mom, I know the problems of towels which seem to “jump” from the towel bar; no one around here ever admits to pulling it off during use. And as a thrifty and environmentally conscious person, I like the idea of hand towels — if they are properly used. When hands are washed clean and dried on the towel, they do not get dirty; the towels merely get wet and dry in the air. (Something I remind my family about every time I find dirty hand towels — when you thoroughly wash your hands at the sink, there are no grubby prints or smudges on the towels!) Plus, this small holder (less than 7 1/2 inches tall and 3 inches wide) fits easily into small spaces; something more modern towel holders cannot.
Because C. E. Erickson & Co. was a promotions making company, they also made these nifty postcards for their customers to mail out:
This illustration of the Erickson Towel Holder will give you an idea of how handy and simple it really is — No home is complete without this practical, convenient device. We have one for your home and want you to call and receive this useful household necessity with our compliments.
Kindly bring this card
(The blank spot after “Sincerely” was where Mahlum Lumber and other companies using these advertising premiums would place their names.)
How this nifty towel holder works is best described on the original packaging: “Simply insert the towel under glass ball with an upward movement. Remove with the same.” As stated before, my towel holder has a clay ball; presumably this version is an earlier form of the holder, with glass replacing the clay in later versions.
I cannot resist telling you that while writing this post, my daughter spotted this old towel holder, immediately picked it up, and began playing with it, rolling the clay marble back and forth just as I had! Even once it was explained to her, she still found the towel holder and its design as fascinating as I do. Best of all, she did it all right in front of her father. Hubby may have known what it was; but I was the one who knew how exciting this find was!
The huge custom-build merry-go-round, considered the collection’s center piece, reached the estimated price range of old $1,000,000 – $1,500,000, selling for nearly $1.3 million. I think at that price, the piece deserves to be called a carousel.
While The Milhous Collection was most noted for its world-class vintage and antique instruments — ornately decorated orchestrions, theatre organs, and other mechanical musical instruments, the bids for these pieces came in lower than anticipated. Sadly, of the eight automated musical instruments with estimates of $1 million (or more), only three obtained bids of seven figures.
Lest you think the economics of space was on the minds of bidders, you should note that most of the 30 automobiles in the collection sold at or above their auction estimates. Among the high-horsepower Brass era cars, Indianapolis racing cars, and coachbuilt classics, it was the 1912 Oldsmobile Limited which fetched the highest price; as the only known surviving car of the model, it more than doubled its estimate, selling for $3.3 million.
Perhaps there’s always room for another classic car in the heated garage, but antique mechanical music pieces? Not-so-much.
One of the most fascinating areas of collecting antique and vintage photographs are those images showing the interior of shops and retails stores — like these real photo postcards, circa 1907.
Notice the well-dressed help and the tin tiles on the walls; the fine array of items, such as china in the display cases, the baby buggies and strollers… Oh, the things you could see with the actual antique postcard in your hand and a magnifying glass!
In this next image, there are plenty of guns, tools, keys, and hardware — along with spinning wheels, a few stray things, such as coffee pots and lanterns. On the walls there are other intriguing photographs… Lots of lovely ladies — including one with two horses! Perhaps a circus act? Among all the beauties, what appears to be the bottom half a wrestler or other male athlete.
Last Tuesday, August 2, 2011, Picker Sisters aired on the Lifetime Television. (If you were confused by the ads showing American Pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz promoting the show on the History Channel, that’s because both Lifetime and History are part of A&E Television Networks — but that really didn’t help those who went to The History Channel on Tuesday night and, confused, wondered why the TV promos weren’t as clear as they could have been.)
The show’s premise is that best friends and interior designers, Tracy Hutson and Tanya McQueen (of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition — Picker Sisters has the same producer, RelativityREAL) are on the hunt for what Wolfe and Fritz would call “farm fresh rusty gold” to turn into “stunning pieces for their Los Angeles home decor pop-up shop.”
To assist the designers in the creative process, there’s a third cast member, contractor, Alan Luxmore, himself with connections to Extreme Makeover and previous host of A&E’s Fix This Yard.
Despite early complaints or fears (primarily based on the American Pickers‘ promos) that Picker Sisters was going to emphasize pretty women (including the use of short-shorts and other feminine charms in order to get deals), I was looking forward to the show. Like Cash & Cari, I was hoping this series would emphasize decorating both in terms of objects and projects; much like Cash & Cari, I was to be disappointed. As with Cash & Cari, I was hoping we’d not only have the Picker Sisters show us what they transformed, but how it was done. But it misses that mark.
Since the success of these collecting shows is partially dependent on the personality of the cast, it bears mentioning that Hutson and McQueen come across as Valley Girls meet former professional NFL cheerleaders; perhaps a bit to bubbly and hair-twirly for most of us. (And those 80’s headbands only emphasis it.)
I don’t want to bash these beauties for how they look; that would be as wrong as saying someone isn’t good-looking enough to be on TV. But there are practical matters here…
Those of us willing to pick on farms, through old industrial items, etc., we don’t only have work gloves, we wear jeans or long pants to protect our legs — no matter how fab our legs look in short shorts. I get that they are on camera, but aren’t they annoyed enough by their own Farrah Fawcett locks, blowing into their eyes, sticking to the sweat on their necks, to put it up in a ponytail or something? I’m less worried about two grown women — complete with camera crew — getting hurt heading off with strange men than I am about cuts, infections and diseases from stumbling about improperly dressed in places where tetanus and hantaviruses make excellent bedfellows.
As I mentioned, I feel that Luxmore‘s work is slighted… But perhaps that’s because he’s an actor playing a character role. In the few scenes Luxmore is in, he plays the frustrated “daddy” to the two little girls on the road, ominous about projects, money spent, design ideas. Worse, he’s shown working while appearing straight out of some Gap ad or GQ photo-shoot, his black sleeveless muscle shirt taunt across his chest, tightly and neatly tucked into crisp belted green khakis. If he’s a master of the 100 hour build, why is he playing a stock masculine character, one part beefcake one part paternal male disapproving of his errant shopping sex kittens?
Like his female cast members, Luxmore ought to dress for the work at hand. We’ll notice he’s handsome, anyway, I promise.
Overall, the show feels far more Hollywood glossy than “unscripted” (the new word for reality shows). While this may appeal to a certain part of the television audience, I feel it’s a disservice to the cast — showing them more as pretty and, due to the lack of “reality,” more bumbling than the educated and experienced people they are. Coupled with the absence of any shop or announcements of where it will appear, the pretty posing makes me feel the shop is simply a premise. Television does blur with tinsel town, you know, so it all feels too glossy, too fake…
Perhaps we’re supposed to enjoy the fashionista-fish out of water thing… But McQueen, Hutson and Luxmore are build and design heavyweights, so maybe they should have left them a little more raw and saved all the polishing for the finished project pieces.
That said, there are good things in the show…
There’s less of a monetary focus on the show; though that could simply be due to the too-small price / sold graphics.
And it is fun to see the before and afters — even if it is at sacrificing how it’s done. I consider myself a creative person, a visual person with an eye for seeing the potential in “junk” and I’m not bored with what I’ve seen so far — far from it, I’m inspired by all the repurposing of industrial items!
I won’t be glued to episodes, but I will watch more of Picker Sisters. Even if I am hoping the show format itself will undergo a transformation of it’s own.
PS Because Lifetime quickly signed on for a seven-part, one-hour series (originally entitled To Live and Buy), I’m not sure we’ll see any changes in Picker Sisters; the slick format’s likely set.
PPS Check out the comments below for more & updates!
Here’s a good tip cropped out of the scan on polishing guns without scratching:
One thing to remember is to never discard worn polishing cloth, even when “worn out completely.” New cloth cuts. Used cloth polishes without cutting.
This is an illustrated guide to foreign (German, English, Birmingham, Austrian-Hungarian-Czechoslovakian, French, Belgian, Spanish & Italian) barrel proof marks which were “in common use today” — which was 1950.
Here are some pages identifying some rifle ammunition and bullets:
You may have heard about it, sometimes promoted or promised under other names such as Rick’s Restorations and Rusty Nuts (I prefer the title Rusty Nuts, but with the success of American Pickers, I guess the corporate guys figured American Restoration was more bankable). This latest show to join the History Channel’s Monday night lineup for collectors follows the work of Rick’s Restorations, the Las Vegas business owned by Rick Dale.
You’ll remember Dale’s appearances on Pawn Stars; he’s the guy who’s restored such things as old gas pumps and soda machines.
Dale and his staff focus mainly on the classic restoration of vintage and antique mechanical Americana. I think I may have just made that category of collectibles up, so if you don’t know what I mean, it’s vintage appliances, motorcycles, radios, pedal cars, railroad memorabilia, candy dispensers, pinball machines, jukeboxes, barber chairs, bicycles, and all sorts of things made in the American Rust Belt — you know, back when we made stuff in the USA.
(Not that their work is limited to made in the USA only; but you will see a lot of what America once manufactured, both for retail as well as to sell items at retail, i.e. advertising, service tools, and salesmen’s stuff.)
Rick and his staff are a colorful bunch of personalities (something I’ve admitted I love about Pawn Stars), however it’s clear that they not only know what they are doing, technically speaking, but they know the importance of what they do: they are reclaiming the history of objects, both in terms of an owner’s personal nostalgia and the workmanship of yesteryear.
While it is made quite clear that what Dale and his team mainly do is classic restorations, restoring antique and vintage items to their former glory keeping the item’s integrity by keeping the item as original as possible using parts specific to the object, viewers of Pawn Stars will recall that Dale himself has pointed out that some items can and should be modified or customized to make them more usable.
The example that leaps most vividly to my mind was a Coke machine which Dale made more useful by modifying the old machine to dispense modern bottles. I recall being surprised because I’m so used to being told not to ruin a patina, let alone update such vintage things, especially if you want to resell the item. But when Dale explained, I totally understood it. This is exactly the sort of thing I want to learn more about, and why I’ve been looking forward to the show!
Along with seeing so many old things once made by hand &/or manufactured with pride, Dale does a nice job of informing us about the item, its purpose, and who made it. (You know I’m a sucker for such context!)
Dale also tells you the cost of what he and his team have done, as well as the retail value it now has; especially useful if you are considering or justifying the restoration of something you own.
But perhaps the biggest thrills (and bulk of the show) revolve around the actual restoration process of antiques and vintage collectibles.
If you aren’t the handy DIY restorative type, you’ll gain a better understanding of just how much work and man hours go into classic restoration. Because the majority of the items are metal, there’s the removal of rust and old paint (do you use sand blasting, walnut blasting or sodium pressure washing?), general body work, painting, recreating or replacing graphics and logos — and that’s not even getting to the mechanical parts!
This is what Rick Dale calls the “grunt work.” But there’s still the time and money spent searching for authentic missing parts. (And what can’t be found might have to be recreated too.) Whew!
The amount of work shown in American Restoration may not inspire you to restore your own antiques and collectibles, but it will help you as a collector of mechanical Americana. You’ll learn more about the collectibles you covet and how to appraise their condition; you learn to understand the price tags on restored collectibles and antiques as well as appreciate the fees charged by professional restoration companies.
If nothing else, collectors will enjoy seeing such classic and iconic Americana.
Dean and Valerie Ferber know a thing or two about shopping around. The previous owners of the Ferbers’ cottage-style home in Hales Corners had an antique bread table. It gave the antique-loving Ferbers an idea. They hunted flea markets, antique shops, estate sales. At one antiques mall, they spotted the perfect piece: a woodworker’s bench. But at $1,100, it was too pricey.
Then, on the way to another store, they stopped at an auction and found a bench covered with paint and equipped with two vises. Where others might have seen a mess, the Ferbers saw potential. But first they had to win it.
Bidding started near the price of that first bench they’d seen, but there were no takers. The price dropped to $500, then $250, then $100. Finally, Dean Ferber raised his auction paddle. The auctioneer asked for $125, and a man in front held up his hand. Dean Ferber bid $150 – and the 1880s work bench was theirs.
“And all Wifey could say was ‘How are we going to load that thing?'”
With some help, they got it into their van and were off.
My parents had to clean & restore the old workbench — but as you can see, it was totally worth it!
It’s beautiful and functional — and loaded with memories…
Most holidays and celebrations, our family members can be found gathered around the new kitchen island from the old workbench serving as a buffet table.
My daughter used to love to play with the pots and pans stored on racks beneath it. (In my mind’s eye, I still see her chubby toddler legs sticking out from beneath the table — but I mercifully don’t hear the clanging.)
My son still likes to play with his toy cars on it, rolling the cars down the “ramped” sides of the trough (where the silver tray is seen in the photo) trying to push them up fast enough to jump the ramp at the other side — without getting busted. (Challenging indeed!)
This is no longer an old junky piece — or even a piece of furniture; it’s a member of the family.
One of the things I find most interesting about collecting as a hobby in general is the vast differences in object availability and appeal by geographical area.
Having moved from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area to Fargo, North Dakota, you might not think (as I did) that there’d be so many differences. But there’s roughly a 100 year age difference as well as cultural differences — and the evidence of this is found in every rummage sale, antique shop, estate sale, flea market, and thrift store.
On Saturday, I found the sort of thing one typically does not find at thrift stores in Milwaukee: a rather large display of what I ignorantly yet affectionately call “rusty junk” at a Fargo city thrift shop.
Hubby, being both male and a former farm kid, can identify this sort of stuff. Not me.
But I am drawn to the sense of mystery of each piece and the artistic appeal of tools Vs. natural consequences (wear from use, nature, etc.). And I know from years of collecting just how popular such pieces are.
At farm auctions here, I’m never really sure if the (mostly) male bidders who gather around the old rusty tools and parts are buying solely for the sake of collecting (either for their own collections or as dealers who serve as middlemen to collectors or interior designers of T.G.I . Friday’s), if they intend to use the tools and parts to repair other collectibles, or if they simply want to use these old rusty tools “because they don’t make ’em like that anymore…” But I do know people want these old used and rusty tools.
And I know how they found their way to the thrift shop to — or at least I have a pretty good guess.
One old farmer moved to the city, and when he passed away (may he rest in peace), these things either didn’t sell at the estate sale or, because it’s too cold here to have a garage sale, were directly taken in for donation at the thrift shop. Because if these things had been available at a farm auction, they would have sold. And it’s rarely ever too cold for a farm auction here in Faro, North Dakota.
I know, because I’ve been to plenty of them. Even if I can’t identify half the things being sold in front of me.