Friday, October 19, 2018

Stepping into the World of Antique Cars

Going 'round the bend in your old age ...

In the forty plus years we've been in the antiques business, at one time or another, we've owned and sold just about everything considered antique.  So when we decided that we wanted to buy an antique car, that's what our friends and family thought ... 'they must be going 'round the bend'

It started about a year ago.  We had lunch at a diner and when leaving, we saw two beautifully restored old cars in the parking lot.  "OMG, look at those" I said to my wife and we wandered over to take a look.  I'd never been up close to to old cars like this and I was really impressed.  They looked sort of 1920 'ish to me but I didn't really know.  Spent some time looking them over and finally left.
Model  'A'  Fords at a Club Event

On the way home, out of the blue, my wife said  "Why don't we get something like one of those  antique cars and have some fun with it.  We could do car shows, parades, cruise the countryside ... it would be great".

I had no idea what such a car could cost.  Probably far more than we could afford, but I said I'd look into it, just out of curiosity, mind you.  That evening I Googled something like 'antique cars for sale'  and was completely blown away.  One link led to another and I soon realized that there were hundreds, if not thousands available nationwide.  I started looking at Google images and soon got the bug.

Obviously, you can pay just about any amount for an antique car, depending on what it is and what condition it's in.  From a couple of thousand  for a junk that needs fully restoring, to fabulous  rare show cars that could sell in six figures.  But we found that you don't necessarily have to spend more than you would for any decent used car.  We were encouraged.  The trick is to find a car in good condition, one that's been restored in recent years, and one that is quite common and with many companies stocking parts.

My research told me that the Model 'A' Fords, which were built between 1928 and 1931 met all the criteria and were by far, the most popular and most available antique cars of them all.  There are many thousands of them still on the roads and clubs everywhere devoted to their ownership and preservation.  And most important, there are several large companies in the US who stock just about every conceivable part imaginable and publish extensive fully illustrated catalogs.

When you Google 'Model A Fords' and then click on 'images', you'll see what I'm talking about.  Hundreds of photos of these fabulous machines.  It didn't take long before my wife and I were on a serious hunt for the perfect car for us.  We saw plenty of super cars for sale out of state, but we soon learned that shipping costs are tremendous, besides, the risk you take buying sight unseen and undriven is a risk you don't want to take with a 90 year old automobile.  We figured our best bet was to limit our search to no more that a two hour drive distance from our home.

1929 Model 'A' Ford Tudor - Rose Beige color
We'd established a budget and by now, knew what model we wanted, a two door sedan with seating for 2 or 3 in the back.  We looked at a few dogs ... bad paint, bad tires, shabby upholstery, etc.  It seemed that there was always something that turned us off.  Just when our spirits started to sag, low and behold, we found our car a little less than than two hours away.

It looked fabulous having been completely restored.  And with a few added upgrades that I would have wanted to add, anyway,  (seat belts, directionals, etc.)

We were knocked out ... it exceeded our expectations and was within our budget.  I drove it  (well, sort of)  and we bought it on the spot.  No haggling.  It was the same price as some of the turkeys we had previously rejected.  For an extra hundred bucks the owner delivered it to our house in a closed trailer.

I was in a daze as he explained all the workings of the car and after he left, I thought of a hundred questions I should have asked.  No matter, how hard can it be ... I've been driving for sixty years.  I'll figure it out.
Out for a ride in the Pennsylvania countryside
Fortunately, there are many, many videos on YouTube regarding the Model A and I must admit, without some of them, I'd still be struggling.  It goes without saying that they're tough to drive.  The steering is awful, the mechanical brakes are poor at best, and without the modern syncro-mesh gears, shifting can be a challenge.  Lots of crashing and grinding until you master the art of double clutching and matching the engine speed to the rotating gears.

The necessary ritual  of things to do before starting the car is reminiscent of starting a small aircraft and there's even adjustments you must make  while driving as road conditions change.  You don't just sit there and steer, like a modern car, you actually have to operate and drive this one.  But you must understand that in its day, this machine represented the state of the art and a giant leap toward the modern car era from what came before.

But despite all this, it's very rewarding to be able to meet the challenge and to maneuver the beast to where you want it to go.  We've done a few car shows now and it's wonderful to meet people who are truly amazed to look the car over and ask questions about it.  And the wonderful sense of pride  you get when driving through town and having folks wave and give you a thumbs up.  I usually give 'em an 'ah-ooga' horn blast in return.
A local car show in Bethel, PA

We got the car in late fall last year and foolishly signed up for a few  local Thanksgiving and Christmas parades without really having the knowledge or the skill to safely participate.  We chickened out ... but this year, we're looking forward to the same parades.  A few months of experience makes all the difference.

So have we gone 'round the bend?  Perhaps, but we're sure having fun along the way.

For those readers who wonder why we've deviated from our usual type of blog ... Hey, antiques is antiques!

If you have a comment or a question, contact me, Dave Young, at

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Internet Effect on Antique Auctions

A turn-on ... or a turn-off

Having attended antique and art auctions for the past 40 years, I can recall fondly, the times when my success at an auction frequently depended on the turnout at the sale.  Less attendees meant less competition.  Experience taught me  that particularly bad weather often meant lower numbers showing up  and was usually well worth the extra effort to fight the driving rain or to slog through the snow.

Nowadays, of course, as more auction houses subscribe to live on-line bidding, my old theory of auction attending has gone out the window ...  I've attended auctions recently where the sale room was half empty, yet the bids were coming in thick and fast over the internet.   It's always been hard enough to have to bid 'against the room' but now, you have to bid against some guy in San Francisco sitting in front of his computer in his pyjamas.

Auctions were traditionaly the wholesale source of art and antiques for the dealer.  It's always been that way.  Retail buyers or collectors were always in the minority at an auction.  Many people outside the trade shied away from auctions.  Going up against a room full of knowledgeable dealers could be intimidating.  If you outbid the dealers, did you pay too much or, did the dealers know something about the item that you didn't?

Today, all you have to do is to register with one of the big live on-line auction companies and you're given instant access to many, many auctions in the country or even around the world.  A search engine will help you find the item or items you're looking for.  You can peruse their catalogs, review auction estimates, and even see what pre-auction bids have been submitted thus far.  Then you too, can sit back in your pyjamas, and bid on practicaly anything on sale throughout the world.  Sounds great ... and indeed it is!   Of course, it has its downside.  You will pay a healthy commission for the privilage of bidding and buying on-line and you will also have to absorb the cost of packing and shipping.  Some auction houses will arrange that for you, others won't.  Read the fine print before you buy.  And don't look for bargains.  A vastly bigger pool of bidders usually results in vastly bigger prices.

But let's get back to where I started ... For many dealers, the auctions have always been a major source of new stock.  I've relied on them for years and have always felt comfortable in any setting.  The auctioneers get to know you and for the most part, other dealers are friendly.  But I see it all changing.  Giant flat screens and banks of telephones in the sale room have turned what was once a congenial gathering, often with a joking auctioneer, into a trading floor with the local dealers being largely shut out.

I can see why the auctions do it.  It exposes their sales to a vastly bigger audience than the locals who have been attending their sales.  Perhaps the downside for them is, it's begining to drive once faithful local dealers away.  I, for one, stay away from auctions which are also shown live, on-line, and I've spoken to other dealers who feel the same way.   I find that prices tend to spiral upwards at these sales.  Perhaps it's collectors, but it amazes me that people will bid huge amounts for items that they haven't even seen or handled.  And it's frustrating  to drive a distance to preview the auction, then drive again to attend the auction, devote a day to it, only to be shut out by folks who haven't left their kitchen table or, who are bidding from work on their phone.

I'm not sure where it's all going, but who knew ... that the good old days... really were, the good old days.

It goes without saying, that this blog (or rant) is my own opinion.                                                                                                                                              

Friday, October 19, 2012

Small Currier and Ives Prints - Some Tips for the Novice Buyer

Many years ago, back in the 1970's, when we first ventured in to the art and antiques business, Currier and Ives prints were still about ... that is, the large folio prints that most folks think of when they hear the words 'Currier and Ives'. We're all familiar with them from seeing them on everything from Christmas cards to calendars. Americana at its finest and depicting every aspect of life in America in the mid nineteenth century.

Depending on condition and rarity, of course, these large prints used to sell in the high hundreds to the low thousands of dollars and were still often found in antique shops and auctions. For the most part, they're gone now. Sure, you can still find them at the big auction specialty sales and the top antique print dealers will have them, but what used to sell in the high hundreds of dollars now sell in the thousands and those prints that used to sell in the low thousands of dollars can now be found upwards of ten thousand dollars with the rarest and most sought after sometimes exceeding fifty thousand dollars.

Remember though, we're talking about those large folio prints. The big scenes. There were several sizes published and they can loosely be described as large, medium and small. (There were some very small prints published but we'll ignore those for the purpose of this primer). The most common prints (because they were published in the largest quantities) have always been the small folio prints which were hand colored stone lithographs of Victorian ladies; children; animals and religious subjects. When we first entered the trade, these prints were known as 'sentimental' prints and at that time (the 1970's) you couldn't give 'em away.
Times change, of course. Since the early 1970's there has been a steadily growing interest in Country and Americana antiques in general and the theme is as popular as ever when it comes to decorating. So those old 'sentimental' prints which nobody wanted have finaly attained popularity. Antique lovers, and Country Style decorators in particular, love the look of these mid nineteenth century prints in their original old frames, sometimes with wavy or bubbly glass, and collectors have sprung up who search for them by subject or theme ... ladies, children, etc.
Naturally, as the demand for them has increased, so has the price and some of the rarer and most popular ones have risen into the low hundreds. Typically, an original small folio print in the original or period frame, in reasonable condition, will sell in the $100. to $150. range. They're not hard to find, either. Take a trip around most large antiques malls and you're bound to turn up one or two. But whether you're a new collector or you just want them to decorate with, there's a few things you should be aware of and to watch out for.

First, of course, is originality. Fortunately, the vast majority of small folio 'sentimental' type prints haven't been reproduced. Be very cautious when you run into a typical large folio subject in a small version. Chances are it's a calendar print or a book illustration. You'll find these in the malls too. However, modern photomechanical reproductions just don't have the look of an old hand colored stone lithograph and even the uninitiated can usually spot the difference. Once you become familiar with the originals it's hard to be fooled.

Next, be aware of what is an acceptable condition. You can expect a 150 year old print to show it's age. Let's face it, that's sort of what makes them attractive in the first place. A little fading or 'time toning' of the paper is acceptable. We can even put up with a few tiny holes or even some light staining outside the image but major stains inside the image or any significant tears in the paper is out! The acceptability of old frames is a personal thing. Some people are willing to lovingly accept a ratty old frame ... other's aren't. You're on your own there ...

The hand coloring is something to be aware of. These were originally hand colored in watercolors, more or less on assembly lines by young ladies working for pennies. Don't expect all the colors to be 'inside the lines' These ladies were being paid 'piece work' and quantity was more important to them than quality. Also, some colors used were fugitive ... that is, prone to fading over time. This is particularly true of greens (a combination of yellow and blue) ... the yellow fades with the result that a green dress becomes blue over time. Because of this color fading, many prints have been 'touched up' or recolored in more recent times. Most of these efforts are easy to spot. The colors are often too garish and just don't look right. A good rule... if the coloring doesn't look right, the chances are it isn't!

No matter what your reason is for purchasing a small Currier, always strive for the best overall condition you can find. Like everything else in the antiques world ... prices keep going up. Some day, your little Currier just might be worth a lot of money.

The world of Currier and Ives is a fascinating one. I haven't even scratched the surface here. If you want to learn more, simply 'Google' the words. Wikipedia is a good place to start. If you want to see lots of them for sale, take a look at the website for The Old Print Shop in Philadelphia, our favorite antique print dealer. For the small Curriers I've been talking about, we always have a few for sale on our website and as of writing this, some of the prints illustrated here are currently for sale.

Oh, and we should point out that the opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pawn Shops, Pickers, Storage Lockers and TV Auctions ... you've got to be kidding!

 There's a popular show on cable television where folks walk in off the street, to pawn the most amazing things. From 18th century firearms to George Washington autographed signatures.  From rare instruments to rare automobiles, they seem to flock to this particular pawn shop. When I first watched the show, I enjoyed it.  A new concept in antiques trading. But after a few episodes, it began to wear a bit thin.  Haven't some of these people heard of any of the major auction houses, where the real experts are, and where world wide exposure is offered, with access to the biggest collectors and museums in the world?

Any pawn shop I've ever been in seems to have an abundace of cheap goods with a heavy leaning toward cameras, cheap guitars and questionable jewelery. If I had an eighteenth century firearm, or a signature of George Washington, a pawn shop would be the last place I'd take it.  Are we to believe that nobody understands that.

And what about the never ending supply of friendly 'experts' who so willingly drop by to freely give their opinion. In the real antiques world, knowledge isn't cheap and it surely isn't free. Try taking a painting which needs to be authenticated to a recognized expert.  As likely as not, they'll charge you, at least, $300.00 for their opinion ... regardless of what it is!   Of course, I recognize it's just an entertainment show and they've got to keep digging up things for people to bring in, but I get annoyed when, week after week, people keep showing up with things that ought to be going somewhere else.  Too phony for me.

And don't get me started on people who uncover fortunes that have been left in storage lockers by people who couldn't come up with the rent.  I mean, ask yourself ... If you had several thousands of dollars worth of antiques or whatever, in a storage locker, and you couldn't come up with a couple of hundred dollars for the back rent ... would you walk away?  And what was several thousand dollars worth of antiques doing in a storage locker in the first place!  The concept of that show is pretty far down on the food chain as far as I'm concerned.

Another popular show involves pickers, bottom feeding in the antiques pool.  They constantly discover absolute treasure troves of their type of merchandise each week, but only seem to buy one or two items from each find.  Why wouldn't they go mad and buy as much as they could carry ... then come back for more.  Sorry guys ... not buyin' it.

I notice, too, that after the pickers have purchased an item, they reveal what it's really worth and how much 'profit' they've made.  I also notice that they never show the pickers actually selling the item, and making this so-called 'profit'.  Those of us who earn our living in the antiques trade learned years ago that the road to poverty is paved with the mythical 'profits' that we all seem to see when we buy something, but never quite seem to realize it when we actually get around to selling it.  I think a little more transparency is called for here.

It seems the television people have hit a new vein. (or a new low) in programing.  People must be fascinated to watch other people, either buying junk, pawning rare antiques for peanuts, or crawling through filthy storage lockers looking for treasure. I notice too, an uptick in knock-offs of these shows.  More people picking through junk, more folks pawning things and lately, a ridiculous auction program which is about as far from reality as it gets.

And speaking of television auctions, did you ever wonder how the camera man at a televised auction can miraculously capture each individual person as they bid, or hold up their bidding number. The bidding moves so fast, that the camera man wouldn't have time to re-focus, let alone move the camera from one side of the room to the other. That always puzzled me until one day, I became involved, and learned how they do it.
A few years ago, I attended a provincial auction in England and It just happened that this particular sale was being televised for a popular British antiques show at the time.  The premise was, that the (TV) antiques expert would preview the sale with the auctioneer, then both would discuss (with the TV audience)  what certain items would fetch.  Then later, after the sale, the expert would again discuss the items, what they sold for, then show how clever he was.  Well, at least, that was the idea.

I happened to be wearing a red baseball cap that day with the letters USA emblazoned on the front in large white letters. Not a particularly smart thing to do in Europe, but that's another story.  As I moved around the preview, I was fascinated to watch the expert being filmed while discussing an American art deco cocktail shaker.  I watched and listened as he explained (to the camera) that if there were any American buyers at the sale, they would snap that up and there should be some spirited bidding on it.

Later, in the sale, when it came up, it didn't even draw a bid.  They couldn't give it away.  I thought nothing of it and the auction moved on.  (Although I did wonder how their expert was going to explain that!).  As it happened, I was located fairly close to the podium and noticed that the camera man, positioned behind the podium, seemed to point his camera at me several times throughout the sale.  I bought a variety of items, mostly furniture, but I certainly didn't buy the deco cocktail shaker.

Imagine my surprise, when I actually saw the show on the BBC a few weeks later, and there I was, with my prominent USA cap, bidding vigoroursly on the cocktail shaker and looking as if I bought it!  They had cobbled together a variety of different shots and totally fabricated the event to match their expert's opinions, Goes to show ... don't believe everything you see on television.

About a year later, I saw a rerun of the same episode while I was In Florida and believe it or not, they had re-edited it again.  I still bought the cocktail shaker, but this time, they had me bidding on all sorts of things that in fact, I didn't do.  I'm not complaining, mind you.  At least I did have a shot at stardom ... although I'm still waiting for Hollywood to call.

Pickers, Pawn Shops, Storage Lockers ... No thanks, I'll stick with the Roadshow.

In my next blog I'll talk about real auctions, with some tips on how to avoid getting burned, an inside look from a dealer's point of view, and a couple of amusing anecdotes from some of my own auction experiences. Oh, and it goes without saying, that the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Dave Young ... Black Buggy Antiques


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Early Ironware - Art from the Blacksmith

Back in the early nineteenth century, while England was starting the industrial revolution, Americans were still producing things the way they always had, mainly from skilled craftsmen and artisans.  In Colonial times, the blacksmith was an important member of any community and in fact, a town or village needed a blacksmith before it could develop and grow.  Today, we think of a blacksmith as the man who shod horses.  Well, they did that, too, but their skills went way beyond that.

The blacksmith made tools, latches and locks, hasps and hinges, fireplace and cooking utensils, lamps and lighting devices, in fact, anything you can think of that would be forged and hammered out of iron.  He repaired farm tools, wagons, carts and carriages.  In fact, a Colonial village or town without a blacksmith had a serious problem.

Eric Sloane's book 'A Museum of Early American Tools' is a
great place to learn about them .
Because of the lasting quality of iron, many implements created in Colonial times have survived until today and perhaps while not as aesthetically attractive as other collectible antiques, there is nevertheless a large number of collectors for this early Americana.  Be it in the category of tools, fireplace or kitchen collectibles, someone is bound to collect it.  It's a category of antiques collecting where true early Americana can still be found and still quite reasonable in price

For the most part, knowledgeable dealers and collectors are able to identify it and date it within a time frame, but because most hand wrought iron is never marked or dated, the task of accurately dating it is impossible.  But there are two ways we can determine the approximate time frame in which an item was created.  One, is from the design of the object.  While common utilitarian objects are the most difficult to date, items that incorporate design features can give us a clue.  As style and fashion changed over time, many of the blacksmith's designs changed too.  Take for example, the pair of andirons shown here. 

 Pair of Handmade Eighteenth Century Andirons
The design is distinctive because of the 'Posset Cup' holders.  We know that the posset drink was used in England as a medicinal aid, from medieval times until about the end of the eighteenth century, when it went out of use.  We can therefore reasonably assume that these hand wrought andirons date from, say, 1750 to 1800. perhaps earlier, and that they were probably English or, made in America by an English blacksmith.  We discovered them here in Pennsylvania, so more likely than not, they were made here.

Another method of dating an implement, is knowing the time frame that a specific tool or device was used before being superseded by a newer or better design.  Good books, museum and auction catalogs become a necessity and the serious dealer and collector accumulates a good library over the years.

Today, many antiques are being reproduced.  The market is flooded with them.  Honest dealers and collectors have learned to recognise and avoid them.  Usually, reproductions are of the most popular forms of antiques and with ironware, the reproductions we've seen are limited to the castings of decorative items which can be created cheaply and in huge quantities.  We don't foresee the antique reproduction manufacturers employing craftsmen to spend hours in recreating a single item, to duplicate an early blacksmith's handiwork.

We recently sold this eighteenth century Pennsylvania
'Rams Horn' hinge.  It still showed marks from
the blacksmith's hammer.
But of course, there are still skilled artisans today who produce replica wrought iron artifacts.  We attended an open air Crafts Fair last summer and were fascinated to watch a blacksmith working at a forge and creating wonderful iron pieces.  Of course, his prices were quite similar to that of similar antique items, so we'd hardly consider them 'repros' in the usual sense of the term.  His recreations rivaled anything we've ever seen, and represented the very finest works of a contemporary craftsman.  But being antiques lovers,we'd still prefer the thrill of holding an object that was handmade two hundred years ago and reflecting on the history of the period and the man who made it.

So if you're interested in early Americana, and you're willing to learn about it, you'll find that you can still unearth fabulous items created by Colonial and early nineteenth century blacksmiths for far less than you might have to spend on other antique items from the same period.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Redware Pottery - a Pennsylvania Tradition

Simple redware items  -  Once found in every home
Redware pottery is admired and collected by different folks for different reasons.  Some, the country antiques collectors and decorators, love the simple forms and earth colors of the early utilitarian pieces.  Jugs, pots, jars, plates, bowls, etc., once used as everyday items in every home, fit in wonderfully with the country and primitive furnishings that are so popular today. 

These items are still easily found, particularly here in Eastern Pennsylvania where so much of it originated, and still at reasonably affordable prices.  Here, we're looking at a price range of say, $50. to $150.

The more sophisticated collector, whose tastes run to the antique decorated redware such as plates and bowls with slipware applied designs or sgraffito decoration, has a much harder task to locate these items and will need a much larger budget to tap into when they do find them.  Rarity has its price and the price range here can start at several hundred dollars for the simplest piece and run into the low thousands for a fine example.

A  Pennsylvania slipware charger - circa 1820

Then we get to the third level.  That is,  the highly decorated plates and chargers that were produced by known potters and created specifically as display pieces.  Some of these eighteenth century creations can cost in excess of $50,000.00 and the only place you're likely to find them is in a museum.  For all practical purposes, we're most unlikely to ever find such a treasure.

A rare sgraffito plate by David Spinner  (1758 - 1811)

But wait ... there's another category that's extremely popular with collectors.  That is, the fine redware pottery that is being produced today and which, for the most part, is highly decorated with slipware or sgraffito designs.  The most desirable being those items designed with the ever popular Pennsylvania Dutch motifs of distilfink birds, hearts and tulips, etc.

There are many potters and studios producing these wares and while they're certainly not restricted to Eastern Pennsylvania, some of the more talented and famous ones do come from this area.  Our favorite is Lester Breininger of Robesonia, PA.  (perhaps, because his home and studio is only a few miles from our house and we've visited several times).  Lester is a 9th. generation Pennsylvania German who began his pottery in 1965.  He's been featured in numerous local and national magazines and has works in the Winterthur, the Smithsonian and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Lester in his shop
Every year, in August, Lester holds what he calls a 'porch sale' at his house and studio.  Collectors come from all over the east coast to view and purchase his latest creations.  We look forward to the event each year and have managed to build up a nice collection of his decorated pottery. 

His pieces do show up at local auctions here in Pennsylvania, and because of his growing national fame, his works often appear on the secondary market all over the country.   We frequently have a few of his fine pieces for sale on our website.  

A beautiful sgraffito decorated bowl
by Lester Breininger
So, the contemporary potters like Lester Breininger  have filled a void.  For those of us who love the highly decorated Pennsylvania redware, in the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, but could never begin to afford to build up collection of antique pieces, we can still collect it and enjoy it.    

If you would like to learn more about redware pottery, get a copy of Kevin McConnell's informative book entitled 'Redware - America's Folk Art Pottery'.  It's inexpensive and readily available on the internet.                                     

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Antiques from the Amish Farm - getting down and dirty

An Early Amish Milking Stool - Straight from the Barn
Country Antiques are reputed to be the most popular area of collecting in the entire antiques trade. That may or may not be true but it certainly seems to be, when one pays attention to all the antiques trade magazines, popular home decorating magazines and the huge amount of antique shops and malls which seem to cater to that area of the market.

Spending much of our time at auctions, estate sales, and the like, my wife and I have watched this phenomenom grow over the past thirty or so years. What was once considered to be just plain junk, is nowadays treated with a reverence once only bestowed on 'formal' antiques.  But be that as it may, we cannot dispute the fact that it has happened and will undoubtedly continue in the future.

Which brings us to the subject of our blog .... Antiques from the Amish Farm, and why you sometimes have to get down and dirty, to find 'em.

We live in the midst of a Pennsylvania farming community, which I'll admit, certainly helps if you're going to look for these items. New York City ... not so much. Yet it's surprising just how many of our antiques, which originated on one of our local farms, will work their way up the food chain to major urban areas.

Some of the items we've acquired locally, we've sold over the internet and shipped off to upscale dealers in New York and New England. One can only imagine what they do with them, but it's a fair guess that the local Amish farmer who sold it to us at a barn sale, would keel over if he knew where his old milking stool wound up. (One of our primitive items appeared recently in a dealer's ad in a prestigeous national antiques magazine).

Most of our surrounding farms and farmers are Amish and they may live a spartan life but they sure have a keen business sense and can be hard bargainers. Nevertheless, we still manage to obtain things like stools, wooden buckets, and primitive old hand made tools. The Amish must surely think the English (non Amish) are odd, to actually collect these old things, but they do seem aware of the market and are keenly aware of the values. Some of them have even become dealers, themselves. (but not on the internet!)

Starting in the early Spring, we keep our eyes open for roadside signs announcing farm and barn sales. We've poked around several Amish farms way off the beaten track and have found a few treasures in the process. Last Spring we spent a couple of hours at an Amish sale and we were just about the only non-Amish folks there. Bit of a language problem, because they tend to not speak English when among themselves. But despite the handicap, we still managed to obtain a few farmantiques that have since found their way to homes throughout the Country.

Parked Buggies at an all- day outdoor Auction
We attend a huge all-day, outdoor Amish auction each Summer. Usually 5 or 6 auctions going on at once. Most of the attendees are Amish families, out for the day. It's a sight like no other. They sell everything from quilts and baked goods to old farm tools and equipment. Tons and tons of it.  They bring it in by the wagon load.  Most of it is junk, but a keen eye can always spot the wheat amongst the chaff.

And starting at the end of February, several Amish communities hold what they call a 'Mud Sale'   An all day affair with livestock auctions, farm equipment and some antiques. If you can stand the cold (and the mud) they're an occasion not to miss. The youngsters play Amish games and there are contests among the young men. Quite a festive occasion. Again, country antiques from the farm can be found scattered among the many offerings and the dedicated dealer will be there, searching.

We've always pondered the attraction that some city folks have for the primitive things that originate in the country. But let's hope they continue to do so, for as long as there is a demand, the country dealers like us, will continue to endure the hardships, sometimes necessary, to provide them ... while at the same time, enjoying (almost) every minute of it!

Amish Parking Lot at an Outdoor Sale
 It goes without saying, that the opinions expressed on this blog are our own.  If you would like to comment or discuss any matter relating to the antiques business or collecting, we'd be happy to hear from you.