If you haven’t already recycled your Goldmine record guides (and we certainly have), it’s probably time. These days, the most accurate record values are found on the internet. Websites like popsike compile online auction results that give you the most current sales figures for albums in all genres. As long as you are accurately grading your LPs, popsike will give you an idea of the current market value of your vinyl. Other web sites, like Discogs, are selling web sites that will show you what collectors and dealers are asking for similar records. As always, condition is critical as are the specs of any album (import, original pressing, mono/stereo, cut-out/stock).
Customers often ask about polishing their antique & vintage metals. My general advice is that (unlike wooden pieces where value can be greatly affected by altering an original surface) metals can be certainly polished. With regard to copper and brass, polish to your taste but I personally prefer hand-polishing. People do use polishing wheels but my feeling is that this kind of aggressive polishing can give your antique brass and copper a finish that is so bright the character of the piece can be lost (until Mother Nature takes over and everything darkens up again). As far as silver & silver plate, hand-polishing is essential. The depth of the design in silver & silver plate comes from the tarnish that is left in the grooves of the scrollwork–when you remove all of the tarnish, you lose the beauty of the detail.
So what are best polishes? My favorites are in the grocery store. If you have water available, try Bartender’s Friend for copper & brass and Wright’s Silver Polish for silver & silver plate. If you are in your antiques shop 24-7 (without a kitchen sink available), try one of my favorites, Nevr-Dull. The polish is in the cotton wadding so it’s soft, it’s easy, and it works on a wide variety of metals without water. Just buff your metals clean with the wadding and wipe with a dry paper towel or cotton rag.
Why did this week’s road trip require a ladder and needle nose pliers? To remove original Boston Tea Party & Fillmore West posters from the walls of an old New Hampshire barn, of course! Until we pulled the tacks and staples, these posters had been hanging in this barn since the 1960s. All are “as found” but they are rare finds in any condition. The Fillmore posters include The Kinks & Taj Mahal; The Mothers of Invention; Otis Rush, The Grateful Dead & The Canned Heat Blues Band; and The 13th Floor Elevators, Sopwith Camel & The Great Society (handbill). The Boston Tea Party posters include Lothar & The Hand People with The Hallucinations; The Velvet Underground; Lothar & The Hand People with The Raven; The Grateful Dead; Quicksilver Messenger Service; and Ultimate Spinach with Canned Heat.
We have spent our morning gently brushing off the dust with cotton balls and soft toothbrushes! Though in all honesty, the tack holes & dirt just add to the story of these pieces. These posters traveled to New Hampshire from historic Sixties concerts in San Francisco & Boston and were proudly tacked in the owner’s old barn. Incredible. Now the dilemma begins…which ones to keep and which ones to sell…
This week’s road trip took us thru a wrinkle in time…straight into the 1950s! We spent the day in an old abandoned ranch so overgrown with brush that, when we arrived, we sat in the driveway wondering if we would find anything salvageable. Though water and small animals had gotten to some areas, the bedrooms and sunken living room (so fab) were virtually untouched.
Don started in the basement bar area and I started in the master bedroom. We gathered up old beer signs, vintage clothing (including silk stockings in their original packing), old medicine bottles, lucite dresser pieces, and lighting. Then we moved to the main living areas where we were amazed to find this yellow tufted Hollywood Regency sectional sofa (in pristine condition) along with French Provincial side chairs, plaster statues, glass top side tables, and various other decorative mid-century pieces.
In some ways, it’s sad to sort through someone’s life by going through their belongings but in other ways it’s absolutely fascinating. The people who lived in this home were vibrant, fashionable, and very hip. They obviously entertained a lot (did I forget to mention the cases of unopened bottles of scotch & whiskey) and they lived their lives with exuberance as illustrated by the shag carpeting, yellow velvet furniture, and nude statues. A little bordello…and a lot of fun!
We are constantly amazed by the fascinating people we meet in our little state! This week’s road trip took us down a gorgeous dead end road to an old farmhouse where we met a woman who worked for concert promoter Don Law back in the day. As head caterer, she spent 30 years cooking for crews & musicians…and her stories were hilarious. Before looking through her memorabilia collection we sat on her porch and listened to tales that only a backstage crew member would know…like the time Freddie Mercury asked for the dressing room guard to be swapped out for a cuter guy…like the time Iggy Pop grabbed a homemade lasagna from the crew buffet and threw it over his audience…like the time she had to prepare dinner next to a backstage whirlpool with a naked Graham Nash in the tub. (Needless to say, many of her stories aren’t fit for a wholesome blog like ours so stop in the shop and we’ll give you the dirt in person!)
After an hour on the porch, we sorted thru her very cool collection of music related memorabilia. We bought a double-sided quilt made of vintage concert t-shirts; several framed pieces including a Boston Tea Party poster and a Fillmore West handbill; some vintage sweatshirts & t-shirts, and assorted backstage passes. But our most fascinating buy was a collection of original show riders specifying the requirements of each artist. Did you know that Jimmy Buffett must be served sauteed prawns on Sundays? That the Grateful Dead bar order always included 6 quarts of green Gatorade? That The Eagles required McDonald’s three days a week while on tour? That KISS needed a dressing room with 4 banquet tables, 80 bath towels, 4 full-length mirrors, 4 trash cans, 2 sinks & 2 showers? That Queen required a large assortment of nuts (heavy on the cashews)? Well–now you know!
Our favorite part of this business has to be “the hunt.” Every person has a story to tell and we are fortunate to be able to hear those stories and relay them to our customers through the pieces we acquire. Here’s to next week’s road trip!
Our days rarely unfold as expected and this week’s “on the road Tuesday” was no exception. We started out with plans to hit two of our regular haunts, a favorite antiques shop and a consignment shop that was holding four 1970s Steel Case chairs for us. As we headed out, we called two of our favorite pickers to see if we could come by to look at their recent acquisitions…so our 2-stop day was now a 3-stop day. After an hour and a half in the antiques shop, we left with a 1960s crystal rock lamp, a few pieces of vintage clothing, records (of course), a 1950s cat statue, some jewelry, and other assorted smalls. At our second stop, we loaded the Steel Case chairs and then spent an hour picking everything from vintage Dickies coveralls & a 1960s faux leopard coat to industrial gauges & a 1950s siamese cat lamp. As we were loading our purchases, our friend/shop owner said “Hey, do you have time to make another stop? There’s a man in town who has some great beer lights and bar stools in his basement. I haven’t been able to get there and I’d love to give you the call.” So we called our picker friends to delay our arrival time and we set out to meet Rocco (and visit his basement).
Rocco was a charming, wheelchair bound gentleman who was waiting for us when we arrived. He told us that he had lost his wife two years earlier but he was making the best of it. After telling us about the parties they used to have in his 1960s man-cave, he sent us down to the basement to see it in person. With Rocco’s approval, we found a screw driver and removed two 1960s Budweiser lanterns and a Knickerbocker light from the cement wall behind the bar. We also bought 4 vintage wooden slat bar stools and a pair of kitschy plaster statues (a pirate and his busty sidekick). Rocco showed Don his LP collection (opera, classical, and jazz vocal) and told us about his favorite operas. He tried to persuade us to stay for cocktails but we still had another stop to make and we try not to BWI (buy while intoxicated).
So off we went to our fourth stop of the day! We hadn’t seen these folks since last spring and discovered that a prostate cancer battle had sidelined their picking. But they had just received a cancer-free report and were ready to get back on the hunt. Despite being sidelined for 4 months, they still had some great things for us including an industrial mannequin, a pair of 19th century iron handcuffs, a cement greenman plaque, some Roseville pottery, and a 1980s jewelry mannequin head. After we paid them, we left them with a wish list and headed for home.
So our 2-stop day turned into a 4-stop day. Fortunately, my picker instincts told me that we should take the truck and the van…and we filled both! But more than the hunt, the best thing about our road trips is seeing old friends and making new friends. Because in this business, it’s all about the story.
So how to we get the big stuff to you? If you’re local, and you’re not in a hurry, we can generally deliver larger pieces (as long as we can work delivery into our schedule). If you’re not close by, we do have a number of local shippers that offer delivery up and down the east coast and to some locations between New Hampshire and California. And then, there’s option three! In the case of our hammerhead shark, the buyer called and asked if we could deliver to his cabin in Maine (about 2 hours away). I told our buyer that my son Beau might be willing to deliver and we agreed on a price of $200. Hoping to get the shark to his cabin in time for a family party, the buyer offered to throw in 2 cases of beer for next day delivery…needless to say, Beau and the shark hit the road the next morning! So how are we with customer service? Well, we do our best!
As most of our regulars know, Don & I are on the road on Tuesdays and Saturdays doing our house calls. (Yes, you are correct, we do work 7 days a week during the busy season!) This week we had to split up in order to get everything done. Don had back-to-back record calls and I had a pick up in Portsmouth that filled my van with a collection of English antiques including a beautiful oak corner cabinet; a marble top commode with tile back splash; a tall filing cabinet with shelves, drawers, and a pull-down tambour cover; as well as a Louisiana drop-front writing desk and a carved oak coal hod. We managed to squeeze a couple of pieces in the back barn but the rest had to go into the storage barn (which, despite an early summer purge, is filling up fast). As has been the case since he graduated from college, I was fortunate to have the company of my fabulous assistant, Beau Pingree. Smart, handsome, and all muscle!
We’ve become increasingly enamored with record hype stickers during the past several years. Hype stickers are the cover stickers that record companies use to highlight specific tracks on an LP or to draw attention to other attributes like Grammy Awards, multiple LPs, musicians featured on the recording, etc. We read lots of blogs on new vinyl that disregard these stickers but we strongly disagree! In fact, we encourage buyers to seek out covers and shrink with these stickers intact. In the world of vintage vinyl, hype stickers add a “cool factor” that gives insight into the pressing and reminds us of the old fashioned “point of purchase” promotional efforts of various record companies.
In terms of the collectability and value of hype stickers, think of it this way: to what extent does the value of an LP increase if it has it’s original inserts? how much does the value of an LP increase if it is still in its original shrink? what is the value of new vinyl if it still has its original download card? From our perspective, if you’re choosing between a cover with a hype sticker and a cover without a hype sticker–buy the sticker. If you are opening a sealed LP with a hype sticker, keep the shrink in tact and sleeve the cover. Remember, it’s always the things that people throw away that become sought after.