Storage Wars meets Real Housewives meets Dog the Bounty Hunter

September 23, 2011

Recently, during a 12 day stretch, I attended 10 auctions. That’s actually pretty easy to do – just go to and the home page will give a default mileage of 30 miles from whatever zip code you type in the blank. You can widen your circle and/or narrow the field by putting in key words in the search blank. Everyday, there are plenty to pick from. There is a small circuit that I hit almost every week and occasionally I will travel a couple of hours if a listing looks promising for some key issue comics.

Hoping to spy some of those sweet, sweet white boxes that house our favorite hobby hidden in the back, I went to a storage bin auction. Having not been to one in months, I was not surprised to see so many more people in attendance compared to others I had been to in months past – the TV shows had to have had an impact – more “lookey-loo’s”, as the pros call them. There was a minor drizzle and many of us had our umbrellas in hand as we waited for the auctioneer to arrive from another site. The comraderie (sp?) was decent as some of the seasoned ones exchanged stories and the rest of us tried to listen and learn. The older gentleman with the 12″ diameter, 15 million candle powered flashlight shared some of his finds. He was retired and trying to supplement his social security income. I’m with you, brother! The auctioneer was running late, and due to the size of the crowd, all of the parking spots in front of the office were filled and most of us had to park in adjoining lots. Just before he arrived, a huge, black HumVee with tinted windows showed up. The driver pulled up and parked right in the center of the parking spaces, effectively blocking in about 10 cars, and turned off the engine. Then the passenger side door opened and the reason for the title stepped out. First you saw this what seemed like a long leg appear. She had on 5 – 6″ heals with a tattoo on the side of her calf, wearing black a pair of short-shorts and a tight, long sleeve black coat. The blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail, but up close, one could see that the bleach had been applied at several different times, and it was time again for the roots. Darn, do I ever sound catty! But this is all true. And, did I mention, that this was no spring chicken, either. Then “daddy” got out. Perhaps, my impression was already slightly tilted against them due to their rudeness in blocking everyone in, but this over weight gentleman had a pompous air, talking loudly into his cell phone. I didn’t see any cameras present, but thought to myself, “This must be what it is like on a reality TV show set.:” We had the main cast. The auctioneer arrived almost immediately and we followed him through the gate and on to the first bin. Not surprisingly, when our two friends won the first bin, the auctioneer already knew their names. There were 5 up for grabs that day, but one turned out to only have a beat-up TV stand in it – that’s all. No one wanted to pay even one dollar for it. They went for $150 to about $650 per bin, and all went to our reality stars. We filed out and some were going to follow the auctioneer to the next site. I hung around a little while, talking to another muscle car owner, and then it occurred to me as I was leaving – our winners had to settle up before they left this site. The HumVee hadn’t moved, nor did, or could, any of the others by the office. Common courtesy is no longer common.

As an aside, if you go to auctions, you will meet other people who are down right pushy and it may seem that the auctioneer even caters to them – looks their way first to take to low bid. Don’t let this upset you. Quite often these people are the ones they can rely on to get the ball rolling and have sort of “earned” this privilege of first dibs.The job of the auctioneer is to sell the stuff for the most he can – he’s working on a commission! It may seem that he is ignoring your hand as he goes back and forth between two other bidders. If you are truly interested, keep your card up and he will get back to you. Should the amount go past what you were willing to spend before he gets to you, you weren’t going to win it anyway. Again, don’t get upset at anyone else – life’s too short.

On Saturday, the 17th, which everyone knows is not only Constitution Day, but the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg), and, eh, something else… eh, oh yeah, Captain Blue Hen Comics Founder’s Day! It other words – it was my birthday, and how did I spend it? 11 hours in another country – somewhere near Kutztown, PA. The listing on said “dozens of comics from the 40’s and 50’s” and had one picture of 4 comics. I couldn’t see exactly which issues they were, but 3 were two digit Action Comics and they appeared to be in nice condition. The day before the auction, the listing was slightly updated and said that the comics included about 40 Batman issues, starting with #5. Mapquest said it would take me about 2 hours to get there, so I took off around 6:30 to make the 9:00 AM start. When I got there, and in time, posted were approximate times that they planned on hitting certain areas of interest. Most of the items were farm machinery and tools. The antique toys were not to go off until 1:00 PM with the comics to follow them!! Yes, they were the absolute last items to go off that day. It sure would have been nice if this information was on the website. But I stayed the whole day because there were some nice, nice golden age comics. As it turned out, there were only 3 Batman issues – #5, #12, & #21. The woman who was watching over these unbagged gems, sitting on a table in a back room of a barn, said that she saw the same logo in the corner and thought they were all the same title. Those numbers also included Superman #13 & 19, loads of Action and Detective Comics, and even an early World’s Finest. What wasn’t listed were the Nickel Comics #1, Spirit Comics #1, Flash Comics #10, Marvel Mystery Comics #11, a 1936 edition of Mickey Mouse Magazine, and many more. Most were at least fine condition with some having WHITE pages! They were found in a box in the attic of an Amish family. Speaking of the Amish, they were a plenty at this sale, Loads of ladies with the bonnets, men with the straw hats, but not like the more subdued ones in black and blue that one sees around Lancaster. I heard conversations being held in German and lots of the younger guys were wearing hats that were shaped like fedoras, though not made of felt. All were a dark gray and the material looked like is was woven (straw?) and the teenagers curled up the sides of the hat. Any older gentlemen who wore then did not curl up the sides. Anyone know anything about what sect this is? Anyway, back to the comics. There were left bids, actually mostly all from absentee bidder # 203! He outbid everyone on almost everything. As a retailer, the high bids left me no room and I did not take home a single issue. Two guys who traveled 6 hours to get there from Indiana picked up the Spirit #1, but paid more than they really wanted. I understand doing that, as you want something to bring home for all of the time and gas invested. I bought 4 Big Little Books. These were also considered comics by the auctioneers and sold right after the regular issues. I was bummed, but at least I was going home to my wife’s famous crab cakes for dinner!

My other auction trips were pretty uneventful. A few resulted in me just touring the offerings and heading straight back home; however, I did score a 1950’s Hopalong Cassidy thermos – one of the rare glass lined versions that are always missing from the lunchboxes you see. And… a “sugarloaf” Knights Templar style helmet!! If you plan on going to the Renaissance fair in Lancaster in the next month, need a Halloween costume idea, or just want a really cool conversation piece for your man cave, have I got something for you! 40 bucks and it’s yours. The extra neat thing is that it is full size and has some wear already – a few dents and scuffs and rust spots – as if it had already been in battle!

Wow, almost 1300 words so far – better wrap this up. Just two more items – first, How ’bout dem Phils?! We have 2011 Topps Phillie Team sets in – just $5 each! Unfortunately, Topps produced these before Pence and Mayberry became regulars, but it has 17 cards – Doc, Cliff, Cole, Howard, Chase, J-Ro, Placido, Raul, Shane, Ben, Wilson, Dominic (rookie card?), Chooch, Brad, Madsen, Oswalt, and a Citizens Bank Park card. Mint on card packaging. Get’em while they last – great gifts and stocking stuffers (Hey, the big box stores are already putting out Christmas items!)

Last item – we never tell people what to invest in, except high grade early comics, like those in that Kutztown auction. I know that there are probably a few hoping that this new DC “relaunch” issues will rise in value and are sticking some away for the kids and grandchildren. Heck, they’re relatively cheap – why not? Besides doing that myself for my one grandchild, I had always planned on putting aside a few bucks here and there for him. But, it always seems like a little of a hassle going to the bank and since they pay so little interest, it did not really appeal to me. Finally, I found something that made more sense – a no risk insurance policy that gains value and can be tapped into with NO TAXES owed. I know it sounds too good to be true and most agents don’t bother with it. It is complicated for them to set up, but if they are willing to do it, it is a no-brainer. I know, I know, most of us hate even the idea of insurance. The connotation is that it only pays off if something terrible happens – a theft, a house fire, a car accident, a health problem, or worse, a loss of life. The policy I just signed up for builds cash value, allows one to take out an interest free loan from yourself; and the way it is structured, unlike interest earned on a bank account, taxes are not owed. Again, sounds too good to be true, huh? I set one up for the grandson, because at his young age, the rates are low, and because I will get a bill (can be set up as an automatic withdrawal), I know I will continue to contribute on a regular basis (I know myself and need that push). As he grows older, he may take over the plan and increase the contribution. Oh, and who did I use as an agent? Why my son, of course! Paul has been a real estate agent for years, and as you know, THAT market has been down. He has added an insurance agent license to his resume and is quite willing to help you set up your own little, or BIG, policy – A few bucks can get you rolling, either for yourself or a child in the family. Call him at 302 – 383 – 7998.

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