Over 55 thousand vintage dress privately collected — and offered to you

55thousanddresses – Over 55 thousand dress privately collected and offered to you.

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

For 50 years, a man purchased vintage ball gowns, prom dresses, and other dresses for his wife to wear when they went dancing.  The collection totals 55 thousand gowns — and now is available for sale (one by one, of course!)

See on 55thousanddresses.com

What An Obsessive Collector Does

As a collector of vintage retail store items, I was thrilled to spot Gimbels in episodes of The Goldbergs on ABC. The show is set in the 1980s in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, which is about 10 miles north of downtown Philadelphia. Which means the Gimbels store is the Pittsburgh location, not Milwaukee. But it was still such a thrill that I had to take a screenshot when the store was shown in the second episode, when mom Beverly takes Adam to get back-to-school clothes.

back to school gimbels the goldbergs

I screamed aloud when I saw the name on the fitting room wall!

Then Gimbels was featured again in episode 10, entitled Shopping. So I had to take a few more…

gimbels store 1980s goldbergs abc

gimbels goldbergs

I know I’m not the only one who does this, right?

Lost and Found – Regrets While Antiquing

Another Blog from Anti-quips – the Collecting Couple

Pick: Have you ever looked back and said “boy, I wish I had bought that!”

Grin: You’d run out of ink in the cartridge before I could print out that list.

P: Oh, really, that many? Give me an example.

G: How about that hotel ice bucket we saw in Chicago. It was silver with the name of the upscale establishment on it. Sure it was way too expensive, but we both really liked it and it sure would impress the guests.

P: Oh, yes, I remember it well. I also recall a Roseville vase that we passed on. It seemed too costly at the time so we drove off, then talked about it and circled the block. When we pulled up in front of the house, we saw a lady carrying it to her car. What were we thinking?

G: I can’t seem to forget a solid brass telescope we saw at a flea market. It was tagged $25, just lying on a table. I have no excuse for not buying that one!

P: Well, I can top that one. How about the guy at the flea market in Kentucky? He had a table filled with jewelry, said it was his late wife’s and he needed to sell it all. I picked through it and found a lapis azuli necklace (which I still have), but we were anxious to view more of the sale and I just moved on. There could have been a treasure trove there, but we were inexperienced and did not spend enough time checking it out. DUH!

G: Well, we have learned better since then. We now know that it is OK to stay put at one booth at the flea market if there is potential. If there are items of interest, we should stick around for as long as it takes. You never know what the next vendor will offer, it could be a lot less quality and the booth you’re at may just be the best game in town.

P: We have left estate sales that had treasures too – we should have known better, but when you are new to the business, you are anxious to “get on to the next.”

G: As long as we are “self-bashing”, I guess we should talk about the things that we should not have bought too.

P: OK, but first let me admit to the biggest faux pas of our history together. The famous “passing of the wrought iron railing.”

G: Oh, dear, I have mentioned that one for over 10 years and hate to let our readers know about it, but since you brought it up. There it sat, in the basement of the crinky antique store in northern Wisconsin. A long, ornate railing, made of wrought iron and (we were told) formerly in a local bank lobby. It was a railing from around the teller’s windows. We stood by it a long time, and I was deciding if it would fit in the van, you were deciding if we had enough money set aside for this “high-level” purchase. The end result is that you told me to step away from the railing, it was not going to happen. We talked about it in the van and you won. Well, actually, we both lost. We returned there about 4 months later and, of course, it was long gone. Since then, we have seen other, less fancy railings, in smaller sizes, with fewer sections, selling for many times the cost of that one. But I am quick to forgive.

P: If that is the case, how come every time we are in a shop or mall, you mention it to anyone who will listen?

G: Well, now that the secret has gone world-wide on the “web”, I will drop it from my spiel.

P: Now, back to your idea of discussing items we should NOT have purchase. Of course, I personally never made that mistake, but several of your buys come to mind. For example, how about the bunch of bottles you bought. They are still gathering dust in the basement. I believe you are responsible for those.

G: Well, maybe you should ‘fess up’ to the purchasing of numerous framed art prints. They are too large to ship if sold on the Internet, and awkward to carry to the flea markets. They take up a lot of space. But on a lighter note, you do get to change the décor in our home regularly.

P: Yes, I just shop in the basement boutique!

G: Another item that we have WAAAYY to much of is the restaurant ware. For a while it was hot and we’d pick up every piece we could find. While there are still collectors out there, we have nearly cornered the market and soon they’ll have to come to us for examples.

P: But, dear, we never paid much for any of it, and many pieces came in box-lots at auctions. We are getting older and our income has become less ‘expendable.’ We may just be serving guests peanut butter and jelly sandwiches off these restaurant plates some day.

G: Or maybe we could find a sharp-shooter who wants to use them for target practice.

P: Some of those heavy-duty Shenango plates are so tough it would take a 44 magnum!

G: In our defense, many items were bought before we became well-informed, or the market trends did an about face. You’ll note that on the TV antique shows, they often state “If you had sold this 10 years ago, it would have brought $5,000, but today, the market has changed and you’d be lucky to get $500.” That’s not our fault.

P: I hate to admit it, but you are right. We have learned from our mistakes and rarely make the same ones. Having said that, let’s head out, rummage season is starting and I saw a few green signs yesterday.

G: OK, but let’s only buy things that will make us rich.

P: Yes, dear. The kids will like that some day when they view the basement and there are only money-makers down there.

Grinin’s Tip To Collectors:   When we started to refurbish our home with antiques, from door knobs to stained glass windows, i always had a clip board in the car with every possible size and item I would need. I also have pictures of antique drawer hardware with the clipboard so I can someday match what i need. If you have a space that needs filling on a wall or shelf, have the size with you where ever you go.

I have seen other collectors with record collections, post cards and bus pass collectors pull out their lists to confirm what they have or need.

On Condition: Do you just want it or do you want it pretty?

Condition, condition, condition, of course, the three most important facets of any collectible, but is it really? Well, in the sense of just how collectible an item is, sure it is, but as to what matters most to collectors I find it’s not necessarily so. I’ll qualify that statement further; to the experienced collector, one who’s amassed articles in any particular niche for any amount of time it is paramount. But frankly I’ve concerned myself much of late with the burgeoning collector and the starter collection.

Here’s the thing about that card with a crease or magazine with torn cover–it’s a lot more available than the pristine vintage item and so, obviously, it’s much cheaper. As a dealer it’s put me in an awkward position. You see the junk turns over much quicker than the prizes. I’ve tried very hard to sell beautiful rare vintage pieces in the $200 range, often settling for $100-$125 after enough time passes, but at the same time that same item, say it’s a magazine with a single page cut out of the middle, sells quite easily for $40-$50, which quite honestly is likely more than it would be worth. I don’t mention this as an isolated incident, it’s more of a chronic pattern.

The American Magazine September 1922
Despite an early article by F. Scott Fitzgerald and another piece inside by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle this piece obviously comes with some Scotch Tape issues. Still it sat for only a couple of weeks and sold for my full marked price of $69 and change.

The most difficult spot this put me in is on the buying side of my business. I routinely pass on items offered at very fair rates just because I know I can’t afford to tie myself up in a handful of beautiful items for a long period of time when I can use the same money to leave with a satchel of similar but, call them broken, items that will move like wild fire at the right prices.

But I don’t frown upon the buyers of these imperfect collectibles, no, firstly I appreciate them because they help me make my living, and so, yes, there is an admitted financial stake involved, but more so what I love most about my low to mid-range grade collectors is that I’m very often catching them just as their passion has sparked.

There is plenty of time later to upgrade and hunt perfection, but I’m catching them coming in the front door. They are not buying to build a poorly conceived investment portfolio which usually produces either a loss or another new dealer at the end of the rainbow, but they are buying either from their heads or their hearts, an interest or a passion.

Please don’t get me wrong–I’m not a junk dealer, and sometimes items that squeeze through the front door will leave out the back tied inside a Hefty bag, but I am not above listing the occasional magazine with a coffee ring on the cover; scotch tape at the binding; an otherwise pristine tobacco card with a dim impression at each of the four corners from a previous mounting; or even a magazine stamped “library edition” if it is otherwise in strong shape. I do try to draw the line at anything with water damage, ink scribbles, clipped corners or other malicious defacements, though if specific items are rare or otherwise desirable I may relent.

The key in upholding my reputation is total disclosure. This is why every single card, from the $1 common to the $100 key to the set are subjected to the same scrutiny under high light come grading time. It’s why I make an effort to turn every single page of a magazine passing through here and tell you so along with what I’ve seen in any online listing. A picture may be worth a thousand words but when it comes to buying and selling online the devil is in the details and the most valuable of those details are text-based.

With my baseball card background I grade everything passing through here along a similar system to the traditional American card grading system (P,F,G,VG,EX,EX-MT,MT) and attribute a corresponding numerical grade (1-10) alongside the more traditional nomenclature. I do the same for magazines because I feel it offers more detail than the usual bookseller’s terms.

Here’s a look at my guide, whether you agree with it or not I like to think it offers a brutally honest point of reference for anyone otherwise not understanding my grade (I used to include this in each of my eBay listings, but yanked the reference about a year ago for fear they’d shut down my listings because of the outside link).

On the other end of the spectrum I am especially harsh. I don’t believe I’ve ever used the term MINT or 10/10 in any listing I’ve posted online these past ten years. On the flip side I’ve bought my share of “Mint” items, but I’ve done so expecting EX (5/10) and being ecstatic when I actually receive an EX-MT (7/10) item. I’ve used NM-MT (9/10) though rarely and reserved for items which look so good you’d think I’d printed them myself (no, I don’t do that, it’s all vintage). Typically a high grade item in my stock is going to mark out EX+ (6/10) to EX-MT (7/10) and it really thrills me to see somebody leave feedback remarking on the fantastic condition of such items.

1948 Dinkie Grips Clark Gable and Deborah Kerr
This card is gorgeous grading NM and rare and I must say priced pretty fair considered those two factors. Oh yeah, there's that Clark Gable guy too, he's pretty famous. It's been sitting without an offer for close to a year now. Go figure.

Harsh grading has been one of the keys to my online success. Part of me knows I could bump items a point or even two up my scale, raise prices to reflect such and still satisfy 90% of my customers, but I’m quite honestly making what I make and pleasing nearly a universal audience (after all, there are always a few cranks).

I grade a movie card issued during the Silent Era under the same conditions and curve as baseball card from the Steroids Era; I grade a Civil War era issue of Harper’s the same as I do a Reagan era issue of Time. I try to avoid terms like really nice for its’ age, though I’m sure I’ve succumbed to this phraseology on occasion when I’ve been overwhelmed by something myself. Still, that same era carries a grade like any other.

In the case of condition rarity falls under the same spectrum as age. Just because the item is super rare any crease through the cardboard and we’re talking about a G-VG piece at best. You can price it rare, but please, grade it standard.

What do you say?

  • Is condition the top factor you consider when adding a piece to your collection and if so are you a seasoned collector?
  • Are you a newbie who just wants the item the first time you see it, scotch tape or no?

Though perhaps of greater interest from my perspective:

  • Are you a new collector who won’t settle for less than the best?
  • An experienced collector who picks their spots knowing that poorer condition is sometimes a trade-off for rarity and knowing when that applies?

I’d be interested to hear because after a lifetime of hearing the mantra condition is king practical experience has caused considerable doubts.