I Picked A Picker!
July 17, 2017
If you’ve ever stopped in the shop on a Thursday afternoon while I’m on duty, you probably saw an episode of “Pawn Stars”. However, on a Monday, you’re pretty sure to see one of the re-runs during an “American Pickers” marathon.
Occasionally, Mike and Frank actually “pick” items from another picker. Not quite the same, but recently I learned that the comic book accumulation I was checking out belonged to someone I had known for years on the flea market circuit. Unfortunately, he has recently passed away, and his estate needed to be settled. The storagefacility unit where I met the executrix was filled with all types of collectables and interesting items. I was there for the comics, naturally, but I could have filled the back of my SUV with baseball cards, if I wanted. I didn’t, but a well-known auction house had already seen the collection and was going to take the lot on consignment.
What was originally described as ‘about 300 comics’ turned out to be 18 boxes and plastic totes as more had been uncovered. And many were Silver Age superheroes! Going through the various containers, it was obvious that these were picked up at different times–different methods of bagging, different eras of comics and genres. There were the expected death and reign of Superman issues as well as issues of significance, such as–Amazing Spider-Man #3, the first appearance of Hawkeye, Hulk #3, Fantastic Four #15, Aquaman #1 and more. As I went through the boxes, I pulled out the better ones to help me judge what would move faster and help me come up with a fair offer. I think I scared the lady somewhat when I was creating this stack for she asked, “You’re going to take them all, right?” I assured her that she wouldn’t be stuck with the bulk. After about an hour and half, I made my offer and she was pleased. We loaded the car and I went home to sort.
As I finished up the job the next morning, I came upon a box that I must have over-looked the previous day in the storage bin. In this box was a copy of Showcase #23, the second silver-age appearance of Green Lantern, plus two single digit issues of the regular series! Again, no where near near-mint, but this was too much of a bonus find for me to ignore. Only having her phone number and the location of the storage unit, I had to call to get her address as another check was headed her way!
If you are into back issues, be sure to check the showcases regularly. Many of these key books went right out the door or into a member’s bin, but there are lots left – also, check the boxes sitting on top of my back issues bins for newly acquired stock. Counting another sizable collection I bought two weeks before this one, I have many, many long boxes at home of unsorted comics that will be up for sale at our Labor Day Flea Market (if they don’t sell at the Columbia, Maryland Galactic Con or the Dover Comic Con coming up soon).
This past Saturday, chores done and nothing else on the schedule, I did something I rarely ever do – went to an auction that mentioned comics in the listing but did not show any pictures. It was only an hour away and up near Lancaster. Being an estate sale, it started at 4:00 PM with household items and dozens of boxes of books with guns and coins due to go off at 5:30 and the estate (an extremely well maintained house, cinder block barn, and large shed situated on 8/10 of an acre) to be sold at 6:00.
I arrived around 3:30 and found a box of comics sitting on the first table inside the barn on the left side. The previous owner liked Disneys, Archies, and Jonah Hex (no All-Star Westerns, but some Weird Western issues). Normally, I would have just left, but I already spent the time and was fascinated by the crowd. I’d guess that of the 100 plus attendees, at least 90% were Amish. Even the auctioneers and staff were! I noticed that no one (neither men nor women) wore any form of jewelry – no rings, watches, or necklaces. The kids were as cute as can be and everyone had a very pleasant look about them. It was nice to see. Just as the sale was to begin, the auctioneer gave the order of sale – inside the barn until they were to do the guns and coins, then the house, then back to the barn, and finally the ladders and outdoor equipment that was scattered on the yard.
You guessed it – when they started carting out items from the barn, they started ON THE RIGHT! Many lots only brought a dollar and some were a “no sale”. Well, I’m in it now, but I might get the whole box for 5 or 10 dollars. That thought was reinforced when boxes of reading books sold for a buck or two. They hadn’t gotten to the left side when it was time to sell the guns (all shot guns). Then they sold the coins (nothing terribly special). Then came the house and real estate.
We were informed that there was a reserve. If the bids reached an acceptable level, the real estate would sell and the high bidder was to pay 10% down immediately with settlement to occur by early September. The auctioneer repeatedly mentioned how well maintained and in ‘move-in condition’ the house was as he tried to summon up the bidding, but it seemed only two people were in it to win it. Only ONCE did he happen to mention that there wasn’t electricity in the house! Starting at $300,000, he had to drop it to $125,00 before anyone raised their card. After long, drawn out beseeching on his part when the bidding stalled at $225,000. The family members went inside to discuss the bid since it hadn’t reached reserve. After maybe 10 minutes, the auctioneer said that they weren’t looking for the moon but needed more and the bidding resumed. He worked hard, even asking only $2,000 increases and did manage to get it up to $235,000 before all stopped again. Still not what they hoped, but the family decided to let it go anyway. Next item was the wood burning stove that heated the home followed by 10 huge skids of wood.
The sky had been getting dark and all of a sudden it opened up. Although we were under a 40′ by 40′ tent, it was coming in sideways and you had to be 10′ in or you were going to get soaked. They tried to sell some of the items in the yard but gave up and came back to the boxes still in the barn. My fear was that they would bring the box of comics to the tent but walk it under the run-off from the downpour–the comics weren’t bagged. Finally, they get to the box and then decided to break up the group and sell in small lots. I see them separate out the Jonah Hex issues and place on two flats. They confused the crowd and instead of the high bidder getting choice of either tray of 6 – 7 comics, unknowingly, he was bidding for the privilege of buying ONE COMIC of his choice for the price of $22. Once the obvious confusion was discovered, they started over and high bidder got his choice for $5.00 percomic. I went home empty-handed and in a driving rain.
Looking at the word count, it’s about time to wrap up this one. A quick question or two about spam emails. How does one get on a list for a company that advertises a product to stop your cat from spraying? I’m a dog person and have never searched the net for a solution to that problem. Evidently they insist that I need their service as the emails keep coming. Also, who keeps messing with my Amazon orders? I’m getting several notices a day confirming the cancellations. And, who’s this Tiffany who thinks I’m a sugar daddy? Oh, wait a minute, I think I figured that out.
’til next time.