Estate Sale Companies that I Avoid

I live in a fairly large city. There are a half dozen companies that liquidate estates. Most are good and fair to work with. Now I am talking from the point of view of being a picker. The point of view from the family selling the goods is another story.

There is one estate sale company who's sales I will never attend. The owner is a nice guy, and we get along, but his sales are not for the picker. First of all, he buys all of the goods in the house from the family. He high-grades the good stuff for himself before the sale which he sells on eBay. He then checks everything in the estate online and prices it at full retail. He is very organized and everything is organized by topic and size and color. It's like walking into an antique store. All laid out and priced and not a good deal in sight. No way to discover a treasure here. You will also see how he has many items from previous events he could not sell here again for another try. I just ignore these sales.

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Picker’s Bible Podcast Interview

I am excited to be interviewed as a guest appearance on Harry Rinker’s  Radio / Broadcast program January 11th. We will be discussing my book, “Picker’s Bible”.

Harry is the host of Whatcha Got, a nationally syndicated antiques and collectibles call-in radio show that airs on Sunday mornings between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM Eastern Time.

Whatcha Got is designed to answer the questions: (1) What do I own? and (2) How much is it worth?  In addition to answering questions from listeners, the show features the latest news from the world of antiques and collectibles, collecting tips, guest interviews, and letters from the mailbag.

Listen to Harry on the Internet

Whatcha Got streams live on the Internet on Sundays between

8:00 AM and 10:00 AM Eastern Time on You also can listen to archived podcasts of the show by clicking on “Archive/On Demand/Podcast” on You can also see more at

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A Picker’s Pile of Regrets

I can vividly remember “the one’s that got away”. There have been many times I was hunting for antiques an hesitated or just did not have the cash, or talked myself out of a good deal. Then I find out later what a dummy I was. Last week, I was behind one of my competition buddies in an estate sale. The ad said they had antique cameras. I actually saw the antique cameras after my friend. There was a box with a vintage Leica and a bunch of lenses, and accessories, and literature. They had it marked $700. I commented to the dealer $700!? He said “Yeah, punch it up” (look online) then blurted out some prices. I walked away, asked my buddy, “Did you see the Leica?” “yeah, he said, $700 is to much for me”. So I felt my decision was good. I find out later that day that he just walked up to the dealer putting on the sale and asked, “What’s the least you’d take?” He said “$550.” My buddy bought it. Gosh, I would have paid $550!

What happened here is, I was one of the regular buyers the dealer knew, so was my friend. We and everybody else were passing on the camera. The sale continued on with no purchase at $700. My asking was not a negotiating question. My friend’s asking WAS a negotiating question. So the dealer probably decided quickly, (“I’ve got to get a sale here..”) and sold it to my friend. It will probably go for about $2000 on ebay.

I beat myself up about these regrets. So, I’ve decided to just put them all on my “picker pile” with all the others that went south. It’s now just a pile. I learned. Now I’ve taught you.

Do you have any regrets you want to share here? It’s very therapeutic!

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Best time to end an auction on Ebay for Antique Pickers

I’d like to take a survey from all the antique pickers out there. When do you think the best time to end an auction on ebay? Both time of day, and day of week. We will post the survey results, and keep adding to it as we get results. So far we have from people I have polled:

Sun 6-10 PM PST 30%
Mon 6-10 PM PST 22%
Tue 6-10 PM PST 18%
Wed 6-10 PM PST 7%
Thu 6-10 PM PST 18%
Fri 6-10 PM PST 0%
Sat 6-10 PM PST 5%

Please let us know what you think! (think of your experience in selling and buying items). Also do you use a sniping service?

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“Quotes” Legends, Laws, and Definitions for Antique Pickers

I will be updating this list occasionally. It is a list of un-famous quotes, made by un-named people I either hear myself, or overheard waiting in line, etc.
I will not list who said it, because of privacy, and because I will edit or paraphrase, etc.

> Definition: Deliberate Collector: One who seeks for certain types of products to fill holes in their collection. Their collection is important to them, and more valuable if complete. They pay higher prices for an items they have been looking for!

> Definition: Haphazard Collector: Collects all sorts of things that “catch their eye”. Takes it as it comes. Collection is varied, has more breadth. Has many unique surprises.

>Quote: “You need to be very shrewd with your competition. But… fair with your customer and seller”

> Law: Until now, an un-written rule. Family history items, records, photos, albums, etc, should always be pointed out to the family. These could be very precious memories and treasures to certain family members. If the seller is okay with you buying it, then you may.

> Quote: “When you have a certain “aire” of desperation, and people feel and see it (you need cash fast, or you want something really bad, etc). This brings out the worst greed in people. They become vultures!

> Definition: Serendipity Picking: Finding treasures when you weren’t looking for them. (give thanks…)

> Definition: Caveat Emptor: is Latin for “Let the buyer beware”. This is the First lesson for pickers.

>Definition: “Running the Traps” It used to be that fur trappers would check all of their traps often, to see what was caught, and to re-set the traps. Today, we call it “networking” Ask everybody, check everywhere. Get leads and follow them up. Word of mouth private sales are the best!

> Quote: “Everything old and used, and obsolete becomes worthless, until it’s value is discovered”.

Definition: Wheeler Dealer: Usually a hustler. Cheap, irritating picker or trader or dealer. They weasel information out of you, complain a lot, and cheat. Don’t sell to them, don’t ever swap with them, don’t buy from them. Never have the owe you money.

>Definition: Primitive Funk: Things like old beer signs, metal, and neon. Old Gas Station stuff. Phone booth stuff, etc.

>Definition: Scoop: To scoop someone, is to get the item or information first. It’s fair, just discouraging to your competition. It’s the early bird and worm law.

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Ebay Watched Item List. What a Dummy I Have Been!

I am not only a “live picker” that is Estate and garage sales, etc. But, I am a “virtual picker”. I buy great deals from ebay and other online sources, and then turn around and sell them for the actual value. I’m not going to tell you what I just got today, but it cost me $55, and is actually worth $950. I suppose this is a form of EBAY ARBITRAGE! It works all the time.

But I am here to admit, I have been very dumb! (I’m sure some of you are just as dumb too).

I have been a pretty big user, until now, of the “Ebay Watch List”. It’s been part of the fun of buying stuff cheap, and selling high. Sometimes my competition is pretty fierce. My competition has in fact been caused BY ME!

Ebay advertises to other buyers, especially ones who are looking for similar items I have been watching, that I am watching what they want! Let me explain this better. If I am watching for a (let’s say for kicks, Pet Rock). I find a cool one for $.99 and I really really want it. I used to click as soon as I could to add it to my watch list. Now, when my competition is looking for a Pet Rock, and somehow missed the one I picked to watch, gets shown: “See what others are watching” and shows my item, because it’s on my stupid watch list! Dang! What a dummy I’ve been.

It would be better to just quietly save my searched item in a file, or an email. Or, if you use a sniping service like Esnipe, you can place your bid now, but it will not show up anywhere on ebay until the last second. You can still get reminders through Esnipe, etc.

I now use my ebay watch list just for pricing stuff, or reminders, etc. Everything of real value will be hidden from others.

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My Pinterest page

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This Might be Why I Like Antiques and Picking

I really suppose it was all instilled in me from my dear mother. I remember her showing me things, as I was just a very young child that were important to her. She also seemed to want to find old classic collectibles, and save them for us. Once in a while she would pull out a very old book, and say, “Maybe I should see if I can sell this…” I’d always cringe, and say, “No, it’s an antique, you should hang on to it”. I really think now, she was trying to make me learn that these historical things are important. She saw something in my care and concern for vintage items, and tried to cultivate it.

I should have guessed it was her, that secretly sent me a subscription to “Christies Auction Catalog”. I thought somehow they made a mistake and sent them to me. Or, somehow I must have signed up for something, and now received the catalogs for free. They came for several years. I did pour over them, seeing amazing and valuable items in their pages. I even mentioned items I had seen to mom several times. She stayed cool, and never let on she was the provider of the subscription.

I would drag home stuff that I felt was important from thrift stores, from junk, from grandparents homes, etc. She seemed to encourage it. She would take pride in my finds. She loved old things too. She was an amazing, and smart woman. Her photo, as a little girl, is on the cover of my book “Antique Secrets”. If you click on the link, you’ll see her in the photograph in the old swing frame, sitting on the radio. – Thanks Mom!

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New Idea for Pickers and Dealers! Tailgaiting at Estate Sales!

I saw something interesting when at an estate sale yesterday. At an advertised Estate Sale I visited, there was a person who was parked out in front of the yard selling items! He had his back door opened, and on the back seat was about eight or more handguns, all priced, ready to sell to people coming to the Estate Sale! (I wonder about what he was selling, of course), but I thought it was a brilliant idea to follow someone else’s ad, which will bring many individuals, and tailgate, selling your own stuff! I’d really like to see this expand, and have it be a regular occurrence at sales. People selling collectibles, and antiques, or whatever. Mini flea markets while you are out hunting. Anyone else see something like this?

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Picker’s Secret: (Other ways to find GOLD!)

Because I am a picker, I not only look for antique stuff, I look for VALUABLE stuff. I am very interested in the technical side of junk. I love old radios, and electronics, and industrial surplus, and I make a lot of money buying and selling all kinds of stuff.

One thing I have been doing, is collecting e-waste. Electronic waste, has the potential of being a gold mine for you. There is quite a bit of gold plating, especially on the old stuff (after tubes, and just as transistors and early computers came on). I have even written an ebook on the subject. Please see the listing HERE. If you have any questions or suggestions on the subject of reclaiming gold and silver, and platinum, and palladium, please let me know. I just had about 800 lbs of the stuff refined, and got a real nice settlement!


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