Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mrs Smith's Family Treasures

A long time ago, I had a call to see a lady down in W Va.
If I recall right, her home place was in N.H. When her husband retired, he insisted on moving to the country.
And that they did. It took a long drive through many winding roads to finally find their new home. It was a sleek modern home, so, I really did not expect any treasures to be found.
She was actually the best treasure. The fist call found me haggling prices with her all day. We enjoyed it tremendously.
We made the arrangement that she would travel to the home place and bring as much down to the new home as possible for me to buy.
The first load was wonderful, but the second load is my fondest memory. She had a box of buttons and wanted a fortune for them. I joked with her about the amount and since we had become buddies at that point, I told her no way could those buttons bring such a price.
She looked at me in such surprise that I was worried that I offended her, and chastised myself for not remembering my house call rules I had always set for myself...But, no, instead, she looked at me and said, " oh my, you do not know buttons ? "
I looked back at her and said.., " Buttons ? No, not really ". She made me promise to buy a button book ( the Internet was not born yet ). We put the box of buttons aside, and after I brought just about everything she had brought down from the home place, she reach over , patted me on the hand, and told me she would sell me the buttons for a very low price..and promised once I knew buttons, I would be delighted with this treasure. Well, to her , the price was low..but to me, at that time, it was high, really high..but, I brought them anyway.
And when I got home, I went to the book store and brought a button reference book.
My eyes were opened to a whole new world. Do you know buttons ? If not, you need to buy a button book and loose yourself in the fabulous world of buttons.
I still have that box of buttons.
Mrs Smith, my dear friend, died before she could finish bringing the rest of her treasures down for me to was a sudden un expected illness..she had Cancer of the Pancreas and was gone in 2 months.
By the time I found out, it was too late to say good bye.
No need to. She will always be in my heart. And whenever I see buttons, a bell rings in my head, and I remember our visits together haggling out prices of things I was to buy.
This is the first story of this blog, and it is dedicated to her.

House Call For The Local Antique Dealer

I live in Hagerstown Md, a place that has always been nicknamed " The Hub ". Which actually for today, means in the center of things. I can search for fabulous antiques and collectibles in the tri state area easily in one day instead of traveling days to visit one antique mall. I am well known in the area, due to the fact that my husband founded Beaver Creek Antique Market, which at one time ( before he sold his share of the mall ) was one of the most visited antique malls on the East Coast. A house call is always a welcomed call. It means I am invited to go to the person's house and see what they want to sell. Sometimes, instead of buying, I give advice as to where to send their items to auction and so forth. You never know what you might find at a house call. Although I am always excited when going on a house call, 9 times out of 10 the call will end up with me just giving advice. But, with patience, and kindness ( it pays to listen ) , the house call sometimes is a call back, meaning they call me back to the home to sell me the items after all. Here's some advice to those of you that might someday be asked to go to a house to buy. Open your ears and listen...and talk to the people, not at them. And, if the item is a cherished family heirloom that they truly believe should be in a museum, and you know it is a common item, not rare...let them down gently...tell the good points of the item first...then be truthful. After all, families do cherish items because so and so declared this and that. There's always that phase, " I got this from my grandmother and she would be 100 years old now if she was alive..she lived to be 80 "...well, she could have brought the item when she was 79...which in most cases, the item declared to be so old, is actually later 1900's pre 2000. Sometimes I will make an offer on an item, and if the person hesitates, I tell them to write my offer down..I give them my business card..and they can call me back if they find no one will top my price..sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. So, there you have it. This blog is to help those of you that are thinking of having someone over to buy your things, and it is to help those of you that are in the antique busines too...what to say and when to say it. My next blog will be about one of my favorite house calls and what I sure to watch for it.