Shake It Off!

A small fender-bender adds up to $5k

I haven’t been in an accident since I was a teenager…  So getting hit was quite a shock.  But I think it was worse for the young woman who hit us.   

But here’s the good news:

  • No one got hurt.
  • The other driver took full responsibility.
  • The Traverse was still drivable.

So all we had to do was wait (45 minutes) for the police to show up to write a report.  And file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.  While we waited we got to know the young woman who was driving the other car.  She’s 17, just learning to drive and made a rookie mistake.  I think that’s happened to all of us.  And before we finished up with the business side of the accident we met her sister, her mother and her boyfriend — all who came to support her!  Pretty nice, huh?!  

By 8PM Friday night we were finally back on the road and headed to Oklahoma City.  We had another little adventure that night at the hotel involving a different young lady — dressed in a very tight, very small black dress coming out of a hotel room.   But I’ll leave the details of that story out of our G-rated blog!   

The next day was Saturday — and I have to admit that it was not our best day.  There wasn’t a problem with the people we met that day or the places we visited.  I just think we were still a little shook up from the day before and some of the fun had worn off.  So after one stop at 23rd Street Antiques where we purchased a lovely flow blue pitcher and a Blue Aurene Steuben vase we headed back north.

Sunday we stopped by the Overland Park Antique Show.   Wow.  Okay let me say that again.  WOW!

  • Okay, it cost me $6 bucks a person to get in. 
  • And Yes, there were only about 50 vendors. 
  • BUT Talk about high end.  I’ve always said WE carried high end, but these vendors REALLY had HIGH END
  • AND  the vendors were willing to deal!  

We saw more Tiffany, Steuben, Loetz, Pairpoint, Flow Blue and Brilliant Cut Glass at this show then we’ve seen in ALL OF OUR BUYING TRIPS PUT TOGETHER.  It was magnificent!  And as I walked the aisles I kept finding things that took my breath away.  Honestly — this show is worth the drive — even if all you are going to do is ooh and aah.   The vendors were VERY knowledgeable and the education itself was more than worth the door fee!

Don't Let the "American Gothic" look fool you. These two are a HOOT!

I have to admit at first glance we assumed everything was going to be out of our price range.  WE WERE WRONG.  Yes, there was a lot of high end art glass.  And high-end art glass is not cheap.  But we found that the majority of the vendors were very reasonably priced.   

Mom found out that this was the place for a Good Deal and a Good Time!

We also assumed that prices would be “firm” in this kind of venue.  Once again, WE WERE WRONG.  We found that with very little haggling we were able to negotiate a discounted price. 

This show was GREAT.  And no doubt about it…we WILL BE BACK in 2011!

So that’s the story of our 2010 Fall Buying Trip. 

  • We spent 5 days on the road together.  
  • We opened the door to build relationships with 4 more dealers. 
  • We learned a ton. 
  • And we purchased 97 new items.   

All-in-all, even with the Wham Bam  I think it was a valuable way to spend our time and money!

Wham Bam!

Yep — It’s been an adventure!

Keepers Antique Mall

We spent Thursday in Missouri.  The day started with breakfast.  We found a “joint” outside of Harrisonville that had a pork chop breakfast special.  Awesome! 

At 8:45AM we followed the staff into Keepers and started shopping.  It was a nice first stop.  We picked up four candlewick dinner plates, some salts and a great Geisha cobalt chocolate pot set.    Then just around the corner we found a HUGE Blenko vase at Trade Fair.  

A short drive down I71 took us to Faithful Peddlers in La Mars.  What a wonderful place — and the owners are AWESOME.  This shop has two floors and Mom decided she was going to start up stairs.  And of course, she found the good stuff including a Victorian Brides Basket and a nice RS Prussia bowl.   On a personal note — I found a very unusual Spaghetti Santa Nodder — and NO, it is not for re-sale.

We found ourselves having pancakes in Joplin, Missouri on Friday morning. 

  • Mom tried pecan cinnamon
  • Dad had one pinapple pancake and one peanut butter pancake
  • And I went with an old stand-by — blueberry pecan

But by 10AM (based on a recommendation from the good folks at Faithful Peddler) we were roaming the aisles at Southside Antiques.  Three hours later we had two more boxes to  put into the truck that included:

  • Red Behemian Cut Glass
  • Vaseline
  • American Fostoria
  • Viking
  • Fenton
  • Loetz 

Hidden Acres

Then based on another recommendation we headed off to Hidden Treasures.  This is a neat little one-owner shop.   He specializes in crystal, colored EAPG and Asian-ware — and while he didn’t have any moriage — during the hour we spent there I learned a ton! 

At that point we ran out of recommendations — so we went back to my internet research and decided to stop in Claremore, Oklahoma.  As we drove into town we found a bunch of stores.  After a quick drive-by we decided to stop in at the Hudson – Metcalf Antique Mall . 

Good decision!

I found Christmas presents for two VIPs.  And after a quick conversation they sent us down the road to Tulsa to the I44 Antique Mall.  Specifically, they suggested that we visit “Marcia’s” booth.   And for the first time during the entire trip I wished we had more money for inventory. 

Can you guess what Marcia is holding?

Marcia had Gold Aurene, Tiffany, Irridescent Bohemian. Cameo Glass, Brides Baskets, RS Prussia,  Victorian Vaseline, Blenko, Mary Gregory I need to continue?

With an hour to go before closing we identified our “like-to-have’s” — prioritized the items — and chose a cut-off point.  Unfortunately I think I’m going to remember the Blenko we left behind.  Then after a full day we headed off to dinner. 

The next thing we knew — Wham Bam — a young driver smacked into my truck!

On the Road Again

It’s that time of year!  Yep every fall we go on a buying trip.  Two years ago we headed east and spent some time in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.  Last year we spent most of our time in Kansas and Nebraska.  And this year we’re headed to Oklahoma.

To get ready we’ve:

  • Completed an inventory — so we know what we currently have in stock
  • Ran customer purchase reports — so we know what we’ve sold in the past 24 months
  • Ran profit reports — so we know where we’ve actually made money
  • Reviewed our client wish-list — so we know what people are still looking for
  • Scoured the internet looking for out-of-the-way places to pick up antiques
  • Planned a “potential” route

Now comes the fun part.  Wednesday afternoon we hit the road.  Our plan is to get south of Kansas City by dark.  Thursday morning we’ll go to our first “official” stop…and from that point on all bets are off.   

At every stop we’ll ask the same question to everyone we meet including the gas station attendant, the waitress, the shop owner and even the woman walking by on the street.  What’s the question? 

“In this area — who should we be talking with about antiques?” 

What’s amazing is that 1)  People actually know and 2) People will tell us!  And based on those conversations we may head to an area antique store.  We may end up in someone’s attic.  Or we could get invited to a local dealer’s home.  But no matter what — it’s  an adventure.

One of my favorite adventures was when we visited a dealer’s barn.  It was located right on a gravel road and everything was COVERED with gravel dust.  Seriously — it was so thick everything in the barn was grey.  And our first thought was THIS IS A WASTE OF TIME!  But we walked through, picked some pieces off the shelves, wiped them down and found a couple of low-end pieces that were priced right. 

As we were paying the man we asked if he knew anyone that had high end Victorian Glass that they might be interested in selling.  And all of the sudden we were ushered into heaven. 

The dealer took us through a door that lead to a great room where he lived.  What a difference.  The place was clean as a whistle.  There were actual lights that highlighted everything.  And three of his four walls had built in display cabinets full of RS Prussia, Brides Baskets, Pickle Casters, Pigeon’s Blood, Old Amberina, Vaseline and Cameo glass.   

He was protective and VERY selective about what he was willing to give up — but we made a deal on four stunning pieces! 

You know, at every show customers AND vendors ask us “where do you find such good stuff?  And this situation is a perfect example.

  • We’re not afraid to ask questions.
  • We treat people well — even if we think we’ve been sent off on a wild goose chase.
  • And we do our best to be personable.  

This dealer does not advertise.  His place was out in the middle of nowhere.  And we couldn’t have found him even if we knew how to find a needle in a haystack.  And yet — we were able to buy four pieces from him THAT WERE NOT ON THE MARKET.  

“In the good-of-days” (that many antique dealers like to reminisce about) all you had to do was know your stuff, go to garage sales and Goodwill and then simply put out your merchandise at a local antique show or flea market.   In those days even rude and obnoxious dealers made money.

My have times changed!

  1. It’s much harder to find quality antiques
  2. There is more competition then ever before
  3. What took years for many dealers to learn is now readily available on the internet
  4. Customers KNOW what things are worth

So really — how do you find quality antiques?  How do you make money?  And how do you stay in business?  

  • We’ve found out that it pays to be curious. 
  • We found out it pays to do your research.
  • We found out it pays when you willing give information to others.
  • We found out that it pays to listen. 
  • We’ve found out that it pays to be kind.  
  • We found out it pays when you don’t have to sell something for “what it is worth.”
  • And we found out that it pays when you treat people well.  

Lucky for me — that’s sounds like the kind of values my parents taught me years ago.  Thanks Mom & Dad!

RSP Auction

Hi. This is Michael – and I thought I’d tell you about the RS Prussia auction that I attended.  This is my first ever blog so bear with me.

This trip started when I saw the auction advertised on Woody’s site.  It was the R.S. Prussia auction being held in conjunction with the International Association of R.S. Prussia Collectors Convention in St. Louis.  I’ve developed an increasing interest in R.S. Prussia Porcelain – and I saw this as a great opportunity to see and learn more as well as hopefully buy a few things for the booth and maybe even for me.

Unfortunately the auction coincided with a visit from Tammy’s sister and brother-in-law to her parent’s house in Spirit Lake. So we decided I would go on my own and she would go see her family. After lots of preparation (i.e. research) and conferring with Walt and Lois, we came up with a short list of the items from all that cool stuff that we thought our customers would like that I was going to bid on for us. I had an even shorter list of things that I was going to bid on for myself.

So after my day job on Friday I hopped in the car and took off for St. Louis. I arrived around midnight, got a good night’s sleep, got up and had a terrific omelet at the breakfast buffet. Then I went to the auction room and set up ‘base camp.’ Then it was time to start looking.

Holy Cow! Everything was spectacular!

But I had to focus and get down to business. I VERY carefully examined each and every piece on our list for damage or flaws. I KNOW that Woody’s does their very best – but it really is the BUYER’S responsibility to ensure the condition of items they are interested in. So I tried to ignore all of the pieces that we were not interested in s—and spend my time concentrating on the 12 items that we thought we might have a chance to add to our collection.

After an hour or so I finished with my examinations and called Tammy. Based on my look and touch test – I suggested we drop a couple pieces. And since I couldn’t totally control myself – I found a few new pieces that I suggested we try to buy. After a few minutes of debate I headed back to ‘base camp’ to check my assumptions via some RS Prussia resource books. Then with 30 minutes to spare before the auction – I took one last walk – to ooh and ahh over the beautiful pieces that I was NOT going to be able to take home. .

The auction started right on time – and people were not shy. Within the first 30 minutes four of the items we were interested in went up for bid – and I didn’t even get the chance to lift my hand before the bids blew by me faster than a speeding bullet!

Pretty soon it was obvious that the prices were out of my league – and the guy next to me struck up a conversation. Turns out he was a knowledgeable collector and former member of the Association. We exchanged pleasantries and he introduced his wife and daughter. Real nice people. He pointed out the 4 or 5 deep-pockets buyers in the crowd to me who were buying many of the best and most valuable pieces. Oh don’t I wish we had $5K to spend on one piece!

Now I’m more than half-way through the auction – I still haven’t made a purchase. But a couple of items on my personal wish list were coming up. And since I was willing to spend a little more money (since these items were not for resale) I thought maybe there was hope.

Yahoo! I finally made a purchase. A gorgeous Castle Vase in browns and yellows!

And my luck started to turn. One after another I picked up:

• 10” Schooner Bowl

• 10” Peacock Bowl

•  Stippled Tankard

Not bad for a day’s work!

After the auction I found out that a lot of convention attendees display items for sale in their rooms. BONUS! They put flags on the wall and/or doors to tell people to come on in! I wish I had know earlier – because I dawdled after the auction – and by the time I started looking many of them had closed up shop.

I’ll know better next time!

But here’s what I found. RSP collectors are a friendly bunch! They love showing off their collections, telling their antiquing stories and sharing their knowledge. It was wonderful to learn from a group of long-time, experienced collectors! And I decided – based upon some expert advice – that I need to:

• Expand my RSP toothpick collection beyond florals

• Join the Heartland R.S. Prussia Collector’s Club, Inc., based in SW Iowa.

• Convince my wife that the Peacock Bowl would totally work in the living room!

All in all – it was a great auction. I touched and felt items I had never seen before. I learned a lot. I found two pieces for my collection. I picked up a piece for resale. And that night – I headed off to bed with visions of RS Prussia dancing through my head…

Lights, Camera, Action!

We LOVE Oronoco Gold Rush.  Why?  Three reasons:

  1. We talk with customers from sun-up to sun-down.
  2. We banter all day long with many of our neighbors.
  3. We always meet someone who has something to teach us.

But this year we had a BRAND NEW experience.  B-B Entertainment stopped by and decided to make us TV stars! 

It started Thursday morning.  During set-up a camera crew started filming us as we unwrapped.  The next thing I knew B-B Entertainment producer Deborah Raguse stopped in to explain that they were filming a new show for the History Channel called “Antique Show: Life on the Road” and asked if we would be interested in being “on the show.”  

Deborah was looking for eccentric dealers, vibrant personalities and a carnival atmosphere.  Of course we volunteered!

The series is intended to be a combination of “American Pickers and Pawn Stars with a show and tell component with antique apprasials.    The host is a man named Mike Kozak of Youngstown, Ohio.  He specializes in stained glass windows and chandeliers — and has traveled the antique circuit for most of his adult life.  

B-B Entertainment stopped by to film us several times during the weekend.  We quickly learned that Mike was a character.   He flew into our booth like a hummingbird and rushed from one display to the next.  He obviously LOVES antiques — and he was pretty excited about our inventory.  I’m not sure if he preferred the Steuben over the RS Prussia — but I know he fell in love with our Nippon!

Mom took a video of them video taping us!  Take a look.

Bohemian Iridescent Art Glass

Last week we picked up a couple of new pieces of art glass.  When we made the purchase — we assumed they were Loetz vases.  But like always — we dug in to do our research.  A couple of clicks later we found out that we had purchased pieces that belonged in the Bohemian Iridescent Art Glass family — but that they were not all Loetz pieces.  So what is Bohemian Iridescent Art Glass — and how is it different from Loetz?   

Loetz Aeolus 1902

Some of the big names in American Art Glass would include Tiffany and Steuban.  But North America was not the only innovative place in the world.  And during the Art Nouveau period — there were some fantastic glass designers in and around Czechoslovakia.  This body of work is called Bohemian Iridescent Art Glass.  Most of these pieces are NOT marked — and many dealers mis-identify the entire genre by calling it Loetz.  But just like not every piece of Aurene glass is a Tiffany — not every piece of Bohemian Iridescent Art Glass is a Loetz.  Other master designers included Kralik, Rindskopf and Pallme-König.   And their work is just as significant and beautiful as Loetz — just less expensive. 

So how do you tell the difference?

I’d start by going to  This site does a great job of identifying the surface treatments and decorations that the various designers used.  Then I’d visit Loetz and Glass.  The pictures on this site are VERY helpful.  Finally I’d check out the resource list that Alfredo Villanueva-Collado has put together. 

So what did we purchase?

One Loetz.  A pair of matching Kralik vases.  And a Rindskopf!

Kralik Rough Crackle

Rindskopf Pepita 1900-1905

Amberina Glass

Nice selection of Amberina!

One day Michael and I went to an antique show in Valley Junction.  We were browsing — you know just walking by the booths — looking in occasionally.   We had been there about 30 minutes when Michael stopped dead in his tracks.   In front of him was an entire booth of  1950’s amberina glass — and he was mesmerized.   

The colors were bold and many of the pieces were over-sized.  Michael didn’t know what it was — where it came from — or how it was made.  All he knew is that he wanted it!   We bought a few pieces that day — and then set out to learn more.     

The first lesson that we had to learn is that there is a big difference between what many dealers call “old” amberina and “flashed on” or “painted” amberina. 

Old amberina was made from a batch of amber glass that contained gold.  Adding gold to the mixture made the glass very heat sensitive.  And glassblowers quickly learned that if a piece got too close to the furnace after blowing — a red color would develop on the part that was reheated.  These “mistakes” were discarded until 1883 when Joseph Locke and Edward D. Libby of the New England Glass Company decided to capitalize on these occurences and patent the process.    

"Old" Amberina

To create a piece of old amberina glass — glass blowers blew and shaped a piece using the amber glass that contained gold.  They left the piece attached to the pontil rod and re-inserted it into the furnace glory hole after they were done shaping it.  The part of the piece closest to the fire turned a ruby color with the color graduating from red at the top to amber at the base.  If a piece was “slightly overheated” the red color turned a reddish purple or fuchsia shade. Today, this deep fuchsia shade seems to be the most desirable among collectors – not only is it very beautiful, but this fuchsia coloring almost always indicates a late 19th century piece.  

Amberina became very popular in the late 1880’s and other companies tried to replace the look.  They used two different methodologies.  The first one is called “flashed-on.”    

The glass on the right is flashed on amberina

Take a look at the flashed-on piece in the picture on the right.  Notice how the coloring is not as graduated as the piece on the left.  Flashed on pieces are NOT made of heat sensitive glass.  To make flashed-on amberina glass makers took a piece of amber glass and applied a top-coat of gold to the piece.  The piece was then re-heated.   The glass made in this fashion does not change colors — only the coating changes color.  Often times you’ll find flashed-on pieces where the coating is flaking off.    

Painted on amberina

Other companies created an amberina effect by painting the entire glass surface with a mixture of copper oxide and yellow ochre and then firing the piece.  After cooling, it was repainted and reheated to develop the ruby color. Pieces made in this fashion are easy to recognize because they have an iridescent finish.  

Many new collectors confuse “old” amberina with “flashed-on” or “painted” amberina.   And that can be a costly mistake.  “Old” amberina is hard to find and very collectable.   “Flashed-on” and “painted” amberina has LITTLE to NO VALUE.    


The second lesson we had to learn was the difference between “old” amberina and 1950’s amberina.   “Old”amberina wasn’t seen much after 1915.  But in the 1950’s a new, bold and modern amberina hit the market. 

1950'S Amberina Compote

Just like old amberina — the glass used to make 1950’s amberina is heat sensitive.  But instead of using gold in the glass — glass companies like Blenko, Pilgram and Kanawha used selenium or iron to transform their pieces. 

1950's Amberina Banana Boat

This chemical change had a huge impact on the final color of these pieces.  Instead of soft ambers and purple-reds — vibrant yellows and bold oranges and reds were created.  And once again the public responded to this unique color combination.  Amberina became a favorite color choice throughout the 50’s and 60’s.    

Old amberina is still the most difficult to find and the most expensive to own.  But 1950’s amberina has it’s followers.  A lot of collectors remember seeing 1950’s amberina in their parent’s and grandparent’s home — and they want to bring some of that nostalgia into their lives.    

1950's Blenko Decanter

So what happened with Michael’s collection?  

It’s been more than 15 years since that day in Valley Junction and now Michael has 40+ pieces of 1950’s amberina glass in his collection — most of it Blenko.  He proudly displays it in the cabinets and window sills of our walk-out basement.  And he’s still shopping — forever on the lookout for giant Blenko floor decanters — some of  which go for $500 – $800.  Yep — that man-of-mine has expensive tastes!

Girls Weekend

I’m not just an antiquer — I’m also a golfer.  So when the Kansas City Metro Chapter of the EWGA (Executive Women’s Golf Association) invited the Des Moines Chapter to join them for a golf outing in Grove, Oklahoma — I jumped at the chance.

The carpool picked me up bright and early on Friday morning and we headed south on I35.  We had a 6 1/2 hour drive ahead of us — and I had antiquing on my mind!  

I love to drive I35 because Missouri has this antiquing thing figured out.  Every 45 minutes there is a GOOD antique shop — just off the highway. So you can drive 45 minutes — and then shop for 45 minutes.  Drive 45 minutes.  Shop 45 minutes.  Yep — it takes a lot longer to get to Kansas City — but it’s worth it! 

Now, if I had had my way — we would have stopped at every antique mall in every small town between Des Moines and Grove, Oklahoma.   But alas — I was a passenger on this trip.  So I had to strategize. When would we require gas breaks?  When would nature call?  How long would our knees last?  And if I could only convince them to stop once — what would my 1st choice be… 

The Enchanted Frog

I love this place.  They have great dealers with beautiful merchandise.   But the one thing that makes them stand out is that the people behind the counter really know their dealers and are more than willing to call them and negotiate for you!  And if you are looking for something specific — they know just where to look.  Did I tell you I love this place?

My golf mates were very kind — and agreed to stop.  To save time I had planned to just shop 3 of my favorite dealers — but the gal behind the counter suggested I look in two additional booths.  And that ended up being good advice.  I found an unusual RS Prussia Hidden Image Shaving Mug for one of our regular customers.  And two pieces of Czech glass that I know will draw a lot of attention in Oronoco

I admit I wanted to spend more than 30 minutes shopping.  And for the rest of the trip — every time I saw a sign for a mall or spotted that antique flag flying — my heart fluttered and it broke my heart to drive right on by.   But I know I’ll be back.  

Earlier this year we decided that it was time to do a little picking in Oklahoma and Texas.  And now I have a travel plan in mind.  I-35, US-71, I-44 — here we come!

Antiquing over the Weekend

Last weekend Michael and I had the opportunity to do a little antiquing on our way to and from a family reunion.  YEAH! 

We drove the back roads and stopped in every small town along the way.  When you do that — it’s always a crap shoot.  Is there an antique store?  Is someone having a garage sale?  Or will you meet someone at the diner that thinks you should call Uncle Ed because he inherited Aunt Mabel’s stuff and doesn’t know what to do with it?  You never know.  You might find a treasure — or it might be a total bust.  

We were fortunate last weekend.  We stopped at 9 places.   At the first stop we walked through a HUGH warehouse.  Now I’ve got to admit that I am not like American Pickers.   I don’t enjoy wearing gloves and fighting my way through piles of junk.   So this stop was tough for me.  There were three levels of bad garage sale merchandise with a few good items tucked away in dusty corners.  We left with some hand painted butter pats and a couple pieces of amberina.

Royal Nippon Tankard

A few hours and 4 stops later we made the purchases of the weekend.  This time we were in an antique mall about 15 minutes from the Mississippi River.  We had walked the entire mall without much luck – and then at the last booth Michael spotted a hand painted Royal Nippon Tankard.   With a phone offer going to the dealer — we had a few minutes to kill — so we headed back around. 

That was a good decision!

Moriage Cobalt Crescent Vase

For some reason — on the second pass we found two more treasures.  I found a beautiful piece of cobalt moriage.  And Michael found a gorgeous 1949 Esquire Calendar.  He says it’s not for sale —  but as Walt says — everything is for sale!