Last week, we left you at 7:30 am, drinking coffee from a plastic thermos lid on the porch of a three-generation factory worker's house advertising a tag sale.  You had done your preparatory "homework." Of all the tag sales advertised in the classifieds, this was the most promising. A peek in the window made your heart beat faster.  Then, the door opened, somebody took your number, and you ran in.

The house was filled with fancy European furnishings, a few oak pieces, and like-new oriental rugs.  Prices seemed cheap and people were buying like crazy.  You were ready to join the madness when you studied the floors and walls and an internal warning bell went off.  Trust such bells.  Rugs and furnishings leave imprints and shadows when they sit for years in the same spot.  In this house "shadow lines" did not line up and the furnishings seemed out of character.  This is an indication that some of the original contents were removed from the residence, probably sold at auction or to a dealer, and replacement pieces were brought in.  The new stuff is just that-new stuff.  It's one of the oldest tricks in the business.  The bowfront oak china closet you spied through the window was grimy and old-looking, but it didn't have a scratch in the glass.  Is that normal?  No. You passed on it.  The tin fire wagon looked like a bargain at $200, but that would be gambling against stacked odds.  Most likely, it was a "problemed" addition.

You paid $75 for a shoe box filled with old photos; tintypes, ambrotypes, and two mirror-like daguerreotypes of the old hat factory down the road.  They seemed legitimate to the estate and you remembered an "Antique Talk" article about early outdoor shots being valuable.  The box is worth four hundred dollars.

You bought a thick old leather-bound bible written in Dutch for $6.  The people who lived in the house descended from old-time German immigrants.  It was cheap, decorative, and a genuine estate item.  Thumb though it when you get home.  Valuable family documents and old artwork sometime appear in the protective pages of old bibles.

You bought a blue Shirley Temple mug for $30, a signed Mickey Mantle baseball for $50, and a gaudy antique-looking vase marked "valuable and rare" for $79 that all turned out to be fake.  You can live with the mug.  The machine-signed baseball and the factory made Persian vase you wouldn't have in your house ... put them on the learning shelf.

You researched old golfing antiques because such was advertised.  In the corner of the garage you spotted a canvass bag with five wood-shaft clubs priced at a hundred dollars.  The pros who replaced the furnishings probably priced it on a quick run-through.  It seemed like a fair price, but not cheap enough; until you notice the rusty pocket that hadn't been un-zipped in years. You forced it open and found a half-dozen weird looking golf balls inside.  The bag turns out to be your best buy in months.

Besides the antiques, you also found a stack of non-stick ice cube trays for a nickel, a un-opened toaster for half price, and a box of wood clothes' hangers.  Finally, you can get rid of those tangled, ulcer causing, wires hangers.   Good luck in your real-life tag sale shopping.

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Wayne Mattox Antiques | 82 Main Street North | Woodbury, CT 06798 | 203-263-2899 |
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