Monday, September 29, 2014

Querulous Quandaries:  
A section of the scandalous Black Studies unit.

 This happened years and years ago and really wasn't a question, instead it was one of worst, confusing and most ill placed dressing downs I'd ever received.

Door opens and a man, whom I've never seen before enters.

(me) Hi, let me know if you have any questions.
(man) Thank you. I'm browsing for now.

He makes his way about half way  through the store, before briskly walking back towards the front.  He stops in front of the counter where I'm at. 

(man)  I just wanted you to know that I will not shop here and I'll never be back.
(me) Sir, what's wrong? Can I help? 

By this time I can notice that he's gone pale and is starting to shake.  I mean he is furious.

(man)  I will not condone the poor treatment and flagrant disregard for humans and their race and culture! 

Well I'm shocked and puzzled at this point. 

(me) If I've done something wrong, tell me and I'll try to fix it. I'm kind of lost here.  
(man) How can you attempt to fix what I've seen what I've discovered to be the true nature of this store and its owner!
(me)  What is it that I've done!  (I'm getting mad myself.)

I'll pause here to state that book dealers and libraries so something strange... strange as in we put books into categories.  You know World War II, Poetry,  Religions, Classics and the like. 

(man) I see on that wall! That you have chosen to single out and segregate books on Africans and African Americans! And I will not condone nor accept it! 

I was almost dumb founded and speechless.

(me) That is a category. I have many black people who come in asking for the Black Studies section.  I keep it up front, as many of those titles are either fragile or are expensive.  AND if I had enough books on... China, I would keep them in their own categories too.   I in no way shape or form would single out or exclude any culture or nationality. It is a category and I'm sorry if you're upset BUT you are wrong!
(man) Its too late for covering up!  I see your heart and your intentions.  Good day! 

As he went out the door  I had to shout and ask him...
(me) Do you think its wrong that I have Kentucky in a separate section too!  lol.

 Boy, when I think back on all the people I've had come into the store I can't help but laugh or cry. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

As I sit here, with the crickets chirping on this cool fall night. I like to let my mind wander and pause and think about what happened in the store today. I'm glad that the day was busy and active at the store. The weather was incredible. There were lots of people out, even with all the festivals, in the surrounding communities. A saying among old merchants is, "Want to kill business on Main Street?  Have a festival." Sadly there is a grain of truth to that dark humor.  Sometimes the more activities you have, the more people stay at those activities, and don't venture into the stores to shop.

Another thing that I ponder on is, when did people become so aggressive in their offers? I mean I know and understand that this business calls for and expects some haggling. Its been around since time in memorial.  Just all at the stalls at Alexandria and the Turkish markets.  But today you can have a piece that is priced, fairly, at $50.00 and someone will offer you $10.00 for it.  I mean really? Come on if I did that in Macy's I'd be laughed at. But some folks think that its customary for an obscene offer to be made on items.  Part of the problem is that many think that dealers pay little if anything for merchandise. Honestly, sometimes this is true, but with business expenses being what they are today, picking up a "steal" for $1.00 at a yard sale and selling it for $75.00 are becoming rare and hold less and less meaning. Please don't make rude offers  This job is how many of us put food in the table and pay bills.Just ask what the best price is and if its still too high, walk away from it.   AND its OK for a customer to say,"This is all I have or This is all I can afford." That's all it takes. we might not take it but we could surprise you. Just  stop with the nasty offers and comments.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Querulous Quandaries:

I had to laugh over this one.  For those who don't know, an astral lamp is an early type of whale oil lamp.

 Phone rings

(me) J. Sampson Antiques, Books & Appraisals
(man) How much is that astral lamp you have for sale?
(me) (I'm thinking of the astral SHADE, I actually have listed on eBay.) Opening is only $20.00.
(man) Well, its a stunner.  How much is it?
(me) Well, its for sale, right now, on eBay? The auction... you know.
(man) So, you don't have the lamp? It shows it with a lamp base, bronze column, marble base and long prisms.
(me) Sir, I'm confused. Where did you see this lamp of mine.
(man) Online.
(me) Where on the internet?
(man) On Pinterest.
(me) You're looking at my pins and albums? Sir, I don't have any of those things for sale. They're not mine.  I don't own any of those things.
(man) Well, I saw your name and phone number and I thought that those things were for sale.
(me) NO, that's not how pinterest works. Its just online images that everyone shares for reference and entertainment. Few people own ANY of the things that they put on their boards.
(man) Well, thanks anyway.  I thought it was some kind of catalog or something.
(me) Thanks for calling.

I had to laugh as DAMN I wish I did own the things I pin on pinterest. There is a lot of Kentucky coin silver, art, jewelry and partially naked women I'd love to say I owned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

That's a Good Question: 

Personal Effects Hatpins March 2014

Question: Jerry I hope that you can help me. You know I've collected hatpins ever since I was a little girl. Thats been some years ago. I have a collection of over 400 hat and stick pins and many holders. Some I've bought from you over the years. I've asked both of my daughters and my daughter in law if they would like to have them. I want them to have them now as opposed to when I'm gone. So I can see them enjoy them and collect it like I did. R. and I are looking at retiring to the warm weather of Texas in the next few years. Though I've enjoyed my collection I don't know what to do with it. I've not bought anything new in over a year and find the prices very high on the ones that I like. We have been to the Hatpin Society meetings several times over the years and many fellow collectors have asked if I would sell one or two pins that I have in the auction. I can't get my daughters to make a decision on my collection. One of my son in laws took a stick pin that he wears in his reenacting costume. Nobody else wants them. How can I convince them to take my collection? What do I do? Thanks for helping an old lady out.

 A wonderful selection from this Lady's collection.
Answer: I'd sell them. Point blank that is exactly what I'd do. First, you should sit down with all your children and their spouses AND your collection, and ask them one more time about what the future of your collection is going to be. I wager that you'll get the same reaction as you have in the past. I'd give them one last chance to step up to the plate and accept your hatpins. Also, you need to explain to them that they will also need to provide insurance coverage, they will need to know how to take care of them and have at least some of them on display. You see here's the real heart of the matter, you can't make others collect what they don't love or enjoy, its that simple. If your children wanted your collection, they would have been asking about it years ago. You've collected for many years and gained much enjoyment and knowledge from it and when the pleasures of collecting are fading away, its time to find a new home for your treasures. If you want to keep a bit of this as your family legacy, I'd assemble a nice but small grouping of pins and holders for each of your children, so that one day, it might encourage a grandchild or even great grandchild into collecting something that they love. Frankly, I wouldn't give them the “cream of the crop” either. More than likely, they will be tucked away in a drawer for many years. Save the rare stuff for your auction and future retirement.

There is some good news though. You sound like that you've kept up with the market. By attending The American Hatpin Society meetings and being a member of that group, has kept you current with what things are selling for. I'd talk with some of the other members of this society and see what they think of you consigning part or all of your collection to the next auction would be like. If that meets with approval then I'd talk to the auctioneer about consigning your collection. Bear in mind, selling your collection as a whole and not in parcel and parts will enhance a collectors desire. You also will likely have a sellers premium that you'll have to pay. It might be the auction of the year! I'd happily liquidate a collection, knowing that it would be going to people, like yourself, who will enjoy and treasure the things your took time to carefully collect. Spend the money on your retirement home in Texas or start a new collection.    

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Inside Tips (Business):

One thing I know for sure.... when you're setting up your first business. Make sure that your email accounts are in gmail or hotmail format. Do not go with a service provider email. After 5, 10 or 20 years, you are kind of held tight to your email address. People will keep your business cards, see your signs, your letter heads and on and on. They will remember your email address over time. This also doesn't take into effect your contact lists, business contacts, family, friends and others.  If you and your service provider part ways, you have trouble, as you'll have to be issued or will select a new   email address. There goes all those years of cultivating your email contacts, pushing your name and business email address into the faces of the world. Don't make that mistake. Take it from someone who knows.

Monday, September 22, 2014

 Insider Tip: 

You know selling is an art.  There are hundreds of books, blogs and websites on selling.  Many excel at it and some stumble along.  In regards, to personal property many make huge mistakes.  From time to time, I"m going to offer little tips and hints to aide you in selling your property.  Now, we both know that the market is soft for many items.  The term "soft" means they won't sell well in the open market.  Strike one. So, folks you don't want to be making mistakes now.  One mistake is that many make, is that they either, sing the praises of their property too highly OR they degrade it to the point that no one wants it.   Just be cool with it.  State the facts, your price, note its condition and let the piece speak for itself.  If you talk too much about how fine or how bad it is, it makes the (possible) buyer skiddish. Just be calm over it.  Less is more, sometimes.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What's selling: 

Early 19th century English cup and saucer
 People always ask me what sells.  Tea items, among other things.  In this day,whole dinnerware sets go begging for attention, regardless of the cheap price. People often don't look for or use massive sets of china, like their mothers and grandmothers did.  But people love anything dealing with the lifestyle of taking tea. Teapots, tea caddys, tea strainers, cracker jars, pretty cups and saucers,jam jars and on and on. They always sell.  Be they clunky, paper thin,English, American, porcelain, pottery,
what have you, they will sell.  I don't know if its the Downton Abbey effect or the repeated efforts to slow down and smell the roses, that spur this on.  There is something available for every budget and lifestyle.  Keep your eyes open for good value and good prices.  Remember the adage of supply and demand.  Concentrate on good quality and fine condition.  Only the rarest of the rare has any value when damaged.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Querulous Quandaries: 

This was a funny one.  BTW:  these "Querulous Quandaries" are stories that happen to me here in the store!  Names and identities have been changed to protect the innocent. 
This HENRY HUGGINS not Higgins.

(me) HI, can I help you? 
(man) Yeah, have you got books by Tom Cleary? 
(me) Do you mean the the guy who wrote The Hunt For Red October?   That's Clancy. 
(man) No, that's the woman who wrote those kids books. All my kids read them. You know... Henry  Higgins that other little girl.
(me) That's  Huggins not Higgins.  
(man) YEAH! That's him. Have you got any books by him. 
(me) Nope I'm sorry I sure don't.
(man) OK, I'll just look around. 

He did buy a French/ English dictionary for $1.00.  
I wish him luck with it. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Inspiring Thoughts:

Success is never owned... its rented and the rent is due EVERY day. 

You're only as good as your last appraisal, in my case it is.
Querulous Quandaries: 

This happened first thing this morning.

Phone rings...
(me) J. Sampson Antiques, Books & Appraisals. How Can I help you? 
(woman) What time do you open? 
(me) I'm open now. 
(woman) Well, what time do you close?
(me) At 5:00 o'clock, unless I'm busy and then I'll stay longer. 
(woman) Are you open at 7:00 o'clock tonight? 
(me) No, not unless I'm busy
(woman) Are you going to be busy today?
(me) I don't think so.  I hope to be. 
(woman) I have some Ray Harm prints I wanted to sell. 
(me) I don't buy prints.
(woman) Are you open tomorrow?
(me) Yes, 10:00 - 5:00. 
(woman) Do you think that you'll be buying any prints tomorrow around 7:00 o'clock? 
(me) I don't think that I'll be buying any prints... at anytime. 
(woman) Well shoot. I'll just call back early one morning and talk to that other man. He said he'd buy my prints.  
(me) thanks for calling. 

I have no idea what other man she spoke to.  Maybe someone is setting up shop in my store before I open? 

Personal Effects The Radio Show: 

Tune in Tomorrow, Saturday, September 20th on WHBN 1420 AM for Personal Effects:The Antiques Show. I'm in the studio with my guest Jan Jennemann and we're talking all about radiation and antiques. Some surprising information.10:10 am right after the AP News. Come on, tune in you might learn something. Remember you can also listen to this show LIVE on your computer. Go to and click on the Rooster icon. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review:

Kentucky's Cookbook Heritage by John Van Willigen
 OK, I'm really excited about this.  Just checked this out of my public library. I'll make sure to add it to my appraisal / reference book collection.  If you have any interest in the food and cooking heritage of Kentucky, you've got to lay hands on this book. This is  200 Years of  Southern Cuisine & Culture, Kentucky's Cookbook Heritage by John Van Willigen.  What a book!  This is not a typical cookbook, there are some recipes inside, but its all about the history of cook books in Kentucky.  Yes, local folks, Harrodsburg is featured several times with mentions of Beaumont Inn, Shaker Village and Thelma's Treasures.  Covers history of famous places, authors and the foods. But what I love is the detailed bibliography in the back. Boy there are a lot of central Kentucky cookbooks that I've never heard of.  This annotated bibliography covers just about every major work from, the 1839 edition of the Kentucky Housewife to books published in 2008. This is a must have for anyone in the book trade. Has 299 numbered pages with a full index and that bibliography don't forget.  Hard back editions are still available at local book stores and I'm sure on line. I spotted it at Amazon for about $38.00.  In time, you'll find it cheaper, but don't wait too long.    Would also make a great Christmas gift for the food lover in your life. 

A great question about a southern iconic piece of furniture.

Question: Mr. Sampson, I am new at sending digital pictures, so this email is an explanation of the pictures to follow (I hope). The pictures are of a "hutch" that was in the first home my husband and I purchased (1966). The home was in Somerset, KY, and the house was sold with some furniture included in the sale. The "hutch" was one of the pieces we were fortunate to get. The owner of the house said that the markings you will see in one of the pictures was the personal marking put his work by a cabinet maker of Pulaski County many generations ago. I welcome any information you could give me about this hutch. / I've never had it refinished. Isn't that amazing?

Answer: What a sweet piece you have. Congratulations! You have a Jackson Press and not a “hutch.” A hutch is usually an open cupboard affair. Really, the proper name for this, is simply, a press or a cupboard. On one knows where the name Jackson came from. Perhaps, it was from the Andrew Jackson's home the Hermitage in Tennessee. Maybe, there was one in his home and the someone just said, “That looks like a cabinet down there in Jackson's house.” We may never know where this phrase came from. Well, the name stuck, and now its part of the southern antique vernacular. Either way you have a beautiful walnut wood press.

I love the high style leg / foot on this piece. The addition of the pressed decoration on the stiles was very interesting, a detail, I've not seen before. Its more of a country piece and is a blend of the Hepplewhite and Sheraton styles. I enjoyed doing the research on this. I looked through the cabinet makers listings in Mrs. Edna Talbott Whitley's book “ A Checklist of Kentucky Cabinetmakers From 1775 – 1859. I found that there were several cabinetmakers from Pulaski County. However, they were operating, almost exclusively, in 1859. I think that you're press is a tad earlier. Could it be one of them? Then I decided to concentrate on the pressed decoration. I found no other examples, anywhere.
So, its kind of a mystery. Is it from Pulaski County? I tend, for some reason, to side with my gut instincts and say that its likely from Lincoln or Boyle County. Still, all counties are very close in location and styles did flow back and forth over county lines. It is well made, by an unknown cabinetmaker, certainly not a carpenter. Ahhh, this is one of those things that makes me sad. The state of Kentucky needs and deserves to have so much more scholarship done, in relation to, its furniture culture. I feel that there are possibly, other examples, that are out there,waiting, to be identified to a certain maker and region.

Furniture questions are a tricky wicket. Even with nice photos, its hard to tell if the cornice is original or if the doors have been re-hung or if the feet have been altered. Everything looks right to me and I'll base my opinions, as though, it is pure. One thing I can tell you, at some time, it was refinished. This is just not an old, grubby 1840's finish. Don't feel bad. More than likely, it was refinished, years and years, before you got it. This was a popular thing to do, as far back as the 1940's – 1950's. It will affect the value to a degree. I say that your handsome, walnut wood press, with a Kentucky provenance, in good condition, will be priced in a retail store for about $3,000 - $3,500. This amount could go up, if we could determine who and where it was made. Be sure you write down any and all details about it, that you can remember. Thank you for sharing it with us.

A detail of the chip carving on the sides. 


Really enjoyed my day off on Wednesday.  It started early and still left me with enough time in the afternoon to get a walk in.  And such a beautiful fall day it was too.  I hated the thoughts of waling around in a circle indoors. So I chose the Springhill Cemetery to burn off a couple of miles in.  Now for me, I love the cemetery, its history, monuments, the beautiful trees and plantings.  It really is a history less on you can walk through. Burials at Springhill date from the 1860 to the present day, so there is ample history available.

Looking at the row upon row of head stones made me think.  It made me think of all the things that these people left behind. Some these people would have been millionaires and some would have been destitute, as evidenced from the blank "Potter's Field". Just imagine how much property has trickled and filtered into the markets with the passing of these people. Real Estate, silver, jewelry, toys, farm equipment, clothing and much much more have all been left behind. Left behind for others to either sell, keep or dispose of. Nothing ever really goes away.

The flow blue meat platter for years held savory meat, until it developed that huge chip. Then it was in storage for a while, you know way back in the sideboard, and suddenly it was pulled out and was used to hold the geranium over the winter. It held that position for decades, until it was sent to the basement,            
for decades it slept there.  One day someone, who found its color appealing, hung it on the wall. It hung there until the tree fell against the house and sent it crashing to the floor to be transformed into dozens of blue and white pieces. Now it lies in a garbage dump... waiting to be uncovered by some future set of hands.  From clay it came and to the clay it returned.  It doesn't go away.  

I makes me think of a little saying / joke I use when I give a lecture on personal property.

Two men are walking away from the funeral of Malcolm Forbes, one gentleman looks at the other and asks, "I wonder how much money Malcolm really left?" The other man with out missing a beat says, "He left it all!"

 You know how true is that? No matter how much you save or spend, you give away or hoard, collect or trash... you will one day leave it behind.   That's why its so important for us to use an enjoy our property. Use it everyday, sell it or give it away, sleep on it or eat from it but not to stuff it back in closets or storage bins.  People often think, "Well, one day I'll use that." Well today should be that day.  Hold  back nothing for a tomorrow that might not come.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Querulous Quandaries

 Ahhh the funny things that happen in the store.  A woman asked me the other day, " Do you buy silver?" "Yes, I do" I said, " But I don't buy silver plate. "Oooh, I don't have plates, I have coins." Well I don't buy coins, that's just not my field." She said, "These are 1/2 dollars are they worth anything?" Quickly I said, "Yes, but it depends on the year and the condition. They might be more valuable than a bullion price, those could be collectors items." Then she said, so seriously, "I'm going to polish them and bring them to you to look at." "NOOOO" , I almost shouted. " Don't polish them you could ruin them!" Then she said, "Well...good, cause' I'm out of polish." I said, "Good, don't go buy any either." Then she said, "Never mind, I gave those 1/2 dollars away years ago. I just wondered if I should have polished them or not." A strange call. lol. I wager she did polish them. lol
Well its the close of another Monday.  A few out today, but not too many.  I did have one odd customer to come in. She was very sweet but she horrified me. She fell twice in the store!Yes, falling in a store is the nightmare of any small business owner. She never admitted to it and I would see her just sitting on the floor reading a book. I offered her a chair, but she declined, saying that she "liked sitting on the floor. I heard the sound of someone falling.  You couldn't mistake that noise. I think that she had some type of health or eye issues. But, she seemed to take it all in stride and never said a word about it. The lady she was with, acted  as a caregiver or watcher.  Though she didn't do her job too well.  I'm sure that she had her hands full. She bought several books and I appreciate that, but damn she made me nervous. Here is to a great Tuesday.  Please no more falls, from customers or myself.  May sweet sleep cover you gently with her blanket of peace. Until tomorrow.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Well, its Monday. One never knows what could happen on a Monday.  Most of the downtown is shuttered up on Monday and this can be good or it can be bad.  Lets hope for the best for today.  I started to write this blog with some anxiety.  As of late, I can't tell if these are still salad days or the beginning of twilight for this field. After twenty some odd years in business, I can tell you that things have changed.  There was a time that you HAD to bring your lunch, as there was no time to close up and get something to eat. There was a time that a Saturday called for two other people to work with you in the store. People used to stand at the door at 10:00 O'clock, just waiting for the doors to open. Are these days over?  I don't think so, I think that things have just changed, as they always do.  I think that you have to approach the trade aspect differently. The biggest obstacle to this antiques & collectibles business is the change in tastes and trends. What was the little darling one day is sent to attic or the trash the next week. Grandparents and parents spent a lifetime furnishing a house. The cost was measured and marked.  Its just that today, people relish a new and different lifestyle. A simplified lifestyle. Now the Greatest Generation and the baby boomers are dying off, moving away or downsizing to extremes and are leaving a trail of personal property behind, and grandma's Victorian sofa doesn't fit in.   We all need to think differently in regards to the ownership of our property.
A view of homes for sale on Beaumont Ave.
Welcome, I'll be sharing what its really like to be in the antiques business, today, and in a small town.  Its not always like Antiques Roadshow or American Pickers.  Don't get me started on the latter.  I'll share the dirty little secrets that all dealers know and use. I'll let you know about market trends and what's not even on the radar anymore. I'll be explaining how appraisals and appraisers work. And most importantly, I'll tell you funny, but true, stories that happen to me at the store. All in all, its going to be a funny, entertaining, eye-opening, amazing saga.  Look for it soon. I think you'll enjoy it.