Saturday, February 2, 2019

Thank You Mr. Ground Hog

Oh my goodness, it is time to be looking toward spring and spring antique shows and opening flea markets and good outdoor auctions.

Yes, it is only February.  But--all indications  are that the nationwide collection of ground hogs have not seen their shadows and spring will be early this year.  I am tired of the talk of sub zero temperatures and why ice melt salt does not work when it is so cold and seeing film of news reporters outside with lips frozen to their hand held microphones and hearing yet again that your hands will fall off in two minutes if not covered.  ENOUGH ALREADY.

It is winter, People.  Upper Midwest.  Nature has cycles.  This is a cold one.  To those who scream (and it usually is screamed) CLIMATE CHANGE,  I would like just one question answered.  The temperature records we are now breaking from the 19th and early 20th century--what did people call those extreme temperature swings back then????

Here are a few pictures from our most recent Cedar Rapids Midwest Antiques and Art  Show.  Next Show is April 7.  Well worth your time to attend this one day show.

So, for right now,  keep those gloves on and get ready for a good vintage pickin' year!!  Spring is in sight!!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Ma'am, Do You Have Firearms in Your Bag???

Dear One and I have returned from a trip to the American West and one of our most favourite states. (can you guess from the picture???) Three weeks of traipsing around retina popping scenery, staying in a variety of lovely and some quirky accommodations, and enjoying some seriously delicious food.  We travel at our own pace, seeing sights that we choose and letting the serendipity of each day unfold.

Since we flew to point west and rented a car rather than driving our own car from home, antiquing was going to be of the window shopping variety and not the throw it in the back of the hatch variety.  DARN.

HOWEVER, not to be completely paralyzed,  we did find a way to ship home a fabulous rustic sign and pick up a few things that fit into our carry on suitcases.  All proceeding well, until we stopped into a vintage shop on the doorstep of one of Our National Parks.
Bullseye-- a gorgeous, labelled heavy english leather vintage 1920s suitcase.  Patina to squeal about.  Price incredible.  Had to have it.  And Dear One suggested we could buy it and use it to pack other smalls we bought along the way, and then use it as our free check in on the way home.  Winner winner chicken dinner!

Great plan.  The case was heavy and the locks worked and did not lock.  We had brought a TSA approved locking luggage strap, so we were in good shape to keep our case and purchases safe.

Fast forward to airport check in for the journey home.  Early morning flight, first in TSA line in an airport the size of an Aldi store. Conversation went thusly:

Agent:  Good morning ma'am.  Do you have firearms in that bag?
Me:  Wwwwwwwwhat??  No-no I do not.  Dirty underwear and small purchases.
Agent:  Does this case lock?
Me:  No--it has the TSA approved strap--and the latches don't lock.  Let's open it up.
Agent:  No -that won't be necessary. (as he moved closer and definitely into my personal space)  There are no weapons in your case, is that right???
Me:   Correct.  Happy to open it--it will be pretty dense in your xray, as there are books and some metal cans.  (Hindsight--metal cans were a set of 1920s french enamelware kitchen cannisters stacked inside one another.  Note to self--do not tell TSA your luggage contains metal cans!)

FAST FORWARD to Beautiful Chicago O'Hare Airport.  Luggage Return Number 9.  Yup, you guessed it.  No suitcase.

Finally Dear One checked his phone.  Text message from TSA that my suitcase had been sent to Chicago on an earlier plane and was being held in the unclaimed luggage cage.  WHAT???  I thought passenger luggage had to travel on the plane you flew on--at least that is the way it used to be.

Alls well as I find an agent who reunited me with Mr. Fine English Leather.  At least I think it was my case as it was covered in  blue and white stickie TSA tape and a limp rainbow luggage strap.  Upon opening, there was enough paper disclaimer literature to kindling a bonfire.

The lengths we go to to find good inventory, huh???

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Fresh Vintage Looks for Autumn

Cooler weather means a reset and revamp for Elizabeth Kucera Antiques at the Odana Antique Mall.  A recent day at the shop meant a redesign courtesy of Dear Husbola.

For September, we have added a wall of modestly priced art. 
And this way cool piece--from a Buffalo Wyoming ranch estate sale--a billiard/pool cue holder and a large collection of cues made of different woods and designs--all sold together as one look.

As the weather gets cooler--folks seem to be awakened from a sleepy August--and are out and about looking for something to freshen their home.  Dealers are roaming around looking for items to sell in their fall and winter shows.

And we promise no pumpkin spice potpourri at anyplace in the shop!!

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Philcast, Hippie Tom and Why We Love Elkhorn

This past weekend, Dear One and I were in the Twilight Zone--Wisconsin style-- otherwise known as our beloved Elkhorn Antiques Flea market.  We wouldn't miss it.
Each year in May, June, August and September, more than 500 dealers from the midwest converge on Elkhorn Wisconsin to unpack all types of what-cha-ma-callits with the hopes of driving an empty trailer home and have a few bucks in their pocket.

It is not just the show that is enjoyable--it is the whole package--good neighbor dealers around us, from the Tosa Twins to
Shirley and Phil,  the Saturday dinner at Moy's in
Elkhorn (egg rolls and split a hunan beef, medium spice please-- gotta split these hub cap sized portions dontcha know) and the parade of people--most shows in excess of 10,000.  And the tattoos.  LOTS of ink at Elkhorn.

A treat for Dear One and me this time was a visit by Sandy and Phil Cianciola.  Phil has been a Wisconsin radio and podcast personality for decades and I have followed his career since the late 1990s.   I first started listening to his afternoon show on WTMJ in Milwaukee, pre-computer days, when I had to contort the portable radio on the window sill to pick up the signal at our house!
Phil is a rare breed of radio guy--he is a trained journalist and over the years has developed an entertaining and genuine style that absolutely makes you smile every time you listen to him.  He is just an old soul--and his current podcasts are free from politics! We really enjoyed meeting them and chatted a good long while--seems like we have known them forever.   Best compliment I can give them is--I wish they lived next door!!  You can check out Phil's podcast at 

Every Elkhorn show we run into Hippie Tom either coming or going from supper.  Hippie Tom is  one of those colorful characters --and HE brings a smile to your face.  He was on an episode of American Pickers about eightish years ago--and people still want their picture taken with him.  Phil got an interview with him and you can hear it at

Our show started slowly--August is always a less frantic crowd--but it really picked up and we sold a record number--and more paintings than we ever have sold there.

So--two things to do.  Get yourself to the September 30th Elkorn.    You can get in on Saturday with the dealers if you pay $25 bucks.  Or wait till
Sunday and all the dealers will be set up and admission is only $5.00.  And remember to give Phil's podcast a try.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Box With A Million Stories

One of the more unusual things I have recently inherited is a metal box of drawers that sat on my grandpa's and great grandpa's workbench.

It is a small three drawer piece, designed to be filled with all sorts of bits and bobs and widgets a geegaws that a handyman might use throughout his handy around the house kind of life.  It is spattered in paint remnants of scores of painting projects.

At first I was going to try to sell it in the shop or take it to the antique market and let people pick through it for whatever they wanted like crows on carrion.

And then I started thinking.  This piece of family history is more representative of family history than a pair of cufflinks or an old draft card.

This box of "stuff" represents a thousand little pieces of life, that were kept together "in case I might need one of these" some day.
Washers, latches, drill bits, brass plomb bob, hooks, screws, nuts and bolts, small corks, more screws, more widgets and more thingie-ma-bobs than I know what they were used for.  Even some of those "Real Brass Do-Dads That Fit Into The Metal Strip That Allow You  To Position A Shelf At Different Heights" (and never have the right number or the right size.) All of these bits started out someplace--as none of the items are new--Pieces from several houses over several generations.

It actually reminds me--on a small scale--of the drawers and drawers of hardware that real hardware stores used to have.  The kind of drawers that the Helpful Hardware Man (sorry ladies, there were no employed hardware ladies then) could go to and in an instant pull out what you needed even if you did not know what to call it.

My Drawers of Treasure are now displayed on a table in our living room.  Please don't hesitate to ask me if you need one of those clampie things that is really called a rolled barrel butt hinge--I have a couple of spares.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

To Pluto and Back

We just got back from selling at Elkhorn Antique Market in Elkhorn Wisconsin.  Great weather and huge crowd makes Lady Antique Dealer a happy gal.
Elkhorn market takes place in May, June, August and September each year for the last 30-some and is owned and operated by wife and husband team extraordinaire Nona and Skip.  Elkhorn is clean, well laid out and organized to benefit the attender and the dealer alike.  We think we have been selling there for more than 10 years.  Great crowd, easy set up, Wisconsin friendly.

I say this with a smile on my face and fondness in my heart--we have been to planet Pluto and back--and that is the beauty of Elkhorn.

Fellow dealers are pleasant and happy small talk abounds.  The cares of the country and world are left at home--and topics usually include what good  (or bad) shows have you done recently, what are millennials buying these days (or not buying more like) and will the crowd be as strong as last month.

After set up--which for us involves setting up lights and hanging paintings- and advance dealer sales--we head off to Moy's in Elkhorn for chinese food.  But not before a stop in their bar for a drink made by one of two women who have been bartending for more than 25 years.  People in the know are aware you order one entree to split at Moy's. After all--this is Wisconsin Restaurant Portion Land dontcha know.

We used to stay overnight locally--but we now travel further out.  Elkhorn motels inflate their prices on flea market weekend--and Lady Antique Dealer gets nuts when she has to overpay for mediocre.

This Elkhorn, the weather was spectacular and the crowd was huge. The true definition of diversity was developed at this market.  The visual and lifestyle variety of people is worth the price of the modest $5 admission.  Just Off Their Boat Lake Geneva Types  attend as well and Young Families Pulling Junior in the Wagon Eating Popcorn at 8 am Types.  To illustrate--notably striking were the two young women dressed identically in black, one with dyed lime green hair that matched the lime green hat band and purse sported by her friend.  Tattoos?  I'll give you tattoos.  I think I saw the entire Canterbury Tales inked on the arm of one woman--or maybe it was the skyline of Milwaukee--I did not get close enough to be sure.

Gotta love it. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

You Can't Win Them All

I didn't realize how spoiled I was for customer oriented auction houses--and the customer service provided to us from our favourite auctioneers.

Until today.

Dear One is occupied elsewhere,  it is gray and drizzly at the moment, and I ventured out of my usual territory to attend an auction by a company I was unfamiliar with.  I had viewed their site online and saw some wonderful mid century chairs that really interested me.  The drive would be an hour-ish, the auction starting time reasonable and off I went.

I arrived on site about an hour ahead to view the sale--and the crowd was already huge.  It easily swelled to 200 people. 
They were there for all the tools and hardware and traditional man type things.   I was very warmly greeted by the clerk.  She directed me to the one of the auctioneers to answer my question of the order of the sale--I knew that pieces of furniture are usually not the first items that are sold.

Let's cut to the chase.  I really had been waiting and waiting and WAITING.  The drizzle started and my patience was thinning as I heard the auctioneers auctioning choice on a large box of belt buckles.  $2.50 each belt buckles.  It was going to be a long day.

I had viewed the chairs I was interested in.  Strangely, they were in the basement of the house, in a very poorly lit room.  Normally in "these parts" the items are brought out of the house for good viewing.  I was glad I had a strong flashlight with me--and saw the four of nine chairs that I could be interested in.

Waiting waiting WAITING, I decided to double check on something with a couple of the ring men.

 "If I am successful in winning a few chairs in the basement, will you bring them up the stairs for me?

" Ha ha Lady.  We are selling as is, where is, when they are sold they are your responsibility."

"W-w-w-what?  I am by myself and I could not possibly get them up without help.  I can load my truck, but the steps are steep.  Quite a hazard actually."

"Yeah, right. Not my problem  Bring somebody to help you."

And that was that.  It took me exactly four minutes to walk to my car and drive away--to drive away with my eager bidding card and full checkbook.

My interpretation.  This Deadbeat Auctioneer was able to get this estate to auction by keeping their costs down---not much sale set up- which was attractive to the consignor.  This means--sell the stuff in place-- you don't have to pay set up people- and let the buyer deal with it.  I wonder what happens if someone is injured loading stuff out--who is responsible?  The hapless consignor who does not know that they hired a Loser Auction House?   

Live and learn.  How can I still be learning after being in the business this long?

Thank You Mr. Ground Hog

Oh my goodness, it is time to be looking toward spring and spring antique shows and opening flea markets and good outdoor auctions. Yes, i...