Clunkers and Diamonds
As a bit of an amateur antique dealer, I have had my fair share of successes as well as failures. Let’s start with the nasty part.
Some years ago, I bought some very early copies of Look and Learn, a children’s educational weekly magazine from the 1960s. They included the first copy, and were in very good condition. The front page had a photo of a young Prince Charles in a kilt. Memorable.
Took ages to sell, but at least I broke even.
Earlier on in 2015, I called into an antique shop here in Eastbourne, and Neil the proprietor was very pleased that he had bought in some bound copies of Look and Learn.
We were both excited, and I was proud to bring them home with me to show Pam. She was completely unimpressed.
‘Don’t you remember, you couldn’t sell them before. What makes you think you can sell them now?’
‘How much did you pay for them?’
‘What. Are you mad? You will never sell them, not in a million years, if you live that long.’
I was quietly confident that this time there was a profit to be made. For the sake of harmony, I replied along the lines of ‘you are probably right, o wise one, but just in case, bear with me on this.’
They took five weeks to sell, and eventually went for……….£35.
On the other hand, about three years ago I was taken with a large box of old comics at my local auction house. They seemed like a bargain to me, and I paid £25 plus auction fees, totalling £30. Brought them home, and started looking through the box.
Three rare first editions. One hundred consecutive comics of TV Century 21. Various others, with a total of close on 200 comics, all in the one box.
I separated them into different titles, and then sorted them into date order. I put them on e-bay over a four week period, and I won’t say how much, but the profit margin was sufficient to pay for a very decent holiday.
The dealing I am most proud of ended up with a small profit, far smaller than I could have made, but I wanted the item to go to a good home, instead of just earning money.
Again, in an odd box of paper ephemera, this time even cheaper. £5 for an auction lot. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that I went through the box, and the majority related to a lady and gentleman who had lived and worked in Germany at the end of WW2. They had been in the British Police, seconded to the authorities, and there were lots of photos, documents, paperwork, but there was also a jewel.
A 32 page booklet in black and white with 44 photographs of five concentration camps.
The words were in German, the photos had been taken by the American liberating forces, and the booklet had been distributed in Germany as proof of what had occurred and could not be subsequently denied. The photos were horrifically graphic, and I do not choose to elaborate more.
The condition was pristine, almost unread and untouched. I used the internet, and was immediately offered a considerable sum by a dealer in Cologne. This was ignored, and instead I discovered a North London dealer.
We had quite a chat on the phone, and he had only heard of this booklet, never seen one. He was excited, as he was a specialist dealer in artefacts and memorabilia relating to concentration camps. He assured me that it would be sold to a collector who would treasure it for the history that it was.
A figure of £175 was agreed, which I was certain was a thousand pounds less that its true value.
Why did I sell an item for a sum blatantly less than I should have? Because I knew that it had to be in the hands of a Jewish collector who would revere it to be the historical document that it was. Some things are beyond price.