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What's Going on Out There?

Here we go again. It's LAST WEEK AT THE AUCTION. America’s Favorite top 10 list of Auction Results from around the globe & I am your Host JOSH LEVINE.

Raised by hoarders, in a boarding kennel, my family vacationed at antique shops, flea markets and dog shows. And yes, all of that probably explains how I got in to cheerleading, metal, auctioneering, appraising, and writing. So why not host a reality show? And yes, this show is reality. It is your real-world guide to the secondary market & what’s really going on out there. Out there in the resale world that is. You can learn so much from auctions and their results. I know it’s a fascinating subculture, one I truly love, and I bet you will too.

So, if you want to know what stuff is really worth and perhaps why? I got you.

Want to know what to look for when you are yard sailing and hitting the thrift shops? I got you.

Want to know about some seriously strange things people collect? I got you.

For many of you, this is a whole new world, but I tell you, this is going on everyday and just under you nose. Auctions are everywhere. 2nd hand buying and reselling, is everywhere. But be warned. Once you enter this world, you may never look at things the same way again.

You’ll be wandering past a 2nd hand shop and say, “Hey, is that one of those things I saw on that show?” I wonder how much they want for it. And then you will realize you are infected or have the flipper gene. But, on the bright side, watching this show might just make you a few bucks. It might save you a few too. Well, you just tell me when it’s all over. Let me know if you learned something and if you had fun. That’s all I want. So Here We Go! It’s Last week at the Auction...

Let’s go to Fowler Indiana.

Coming in at #10 is a 1995 Hot Wheels Camaro that hammered for $850 at Toy’s Trains and other Old Stuff. This auction house often features toys, but I bet you guessed that from their name. Well, one thing I can tell you is, when I want to know what’s going on with toys, I watch Wylie’s sales. I believe they have several Hot Wheels records, but why I chose to feature this car is several reasons. First, 1990s toys are hot. Many collectors scoff and anything post 1980 but experts know, people want what they fondly remember from their childhood and buy, or become collectors, when they have disposable income. So as Gen-X and Gen-Z send their kids to college or begin to make decent salary, nostalgia kicks in. Second, this was a mint, carded version meaning an unopened package and collectors will pay a premium for that. Note that even the condition of the outer package is graded these days and super important to the serious collectors.

Maybe you will remember this when you are buying toys for your kids. If they really love something and they are cheap, maybe buy 2. One to play and one put away. I am just saying, it might pay for their college. Or AI Robot School.

But let’s move on. I gotta click my heels together quick and head to Kansas.

#9 is an English Cameo Art Glass Vase that sold for $3000 at Woody’s. This, just under 12”, bottle vase was attributed to Thomas Webb & Sons, the English glass company founded in 1837. I have seen Webb & Cameo Glass in particular on the rise over the past few months. Dealers know Antique Art Glass has been a bit soft the past few years, but I believe I am seeing a trend. I have several theories as to why.

Want to know?

Popular Culture

Shows like Bridgerton and all the period pieces on Netflix and Hulu influence style.


The Aging of Our Influencers

As we get older, we get nostalgic and collect. As the celebrities and influencers we follow start to talk about what they collect….it flips our collector switch too. Not just because we are sheep, but because what our peers are doing is contagious. I am trying to get the Beebs or Kardashian to collect Hummel’s. It’s a social experiment. Call me.

But enough about glass, we are off to Cali.

#8 A Maison Odiot (ooh-dyo) French sterling silver serving dish brought $7500 at John Moran. Hallmarked 950 Silver and made in Paris, this 19” covered server illustrates a few points. Know your marks and don’t base your price on melt values alone. First, French silver hallmarks are often missed. People assume a lot of European marks are Silverplate. If you do not know, or are not sure, ask an expert. It’s the difference of $100 or $7500 in this case. But second is something I often talk about. People often sell their silver to Gold based strictly on weight. Even several jewelers I know do. Believing there is no demand beyond the metal content. And I know its true in many cases but there are several makers, designs and patterns that destroy that theory. I don’t want you to leave money on the table.

This piece for example was 130 Troy Oz so with a 95% purity it would be worth $3475.29 to an assayer. That would leave $4000 on the table. Have a I made my point? Good.

So Let’s stay in the Los Angeles Area...

#7 A Lacquered Wood Attendant as it was billed brought $22,500 at Abell’s. This 42” tall seated, carved hardwood statue illustrates what I keep saying. The global emerging market means more collectors, or bidders and buyers with disposable income looking for their passion. Many of these antiques from the Orient were brought back as souvenirs or sold to the West after war and conflict, post WWII and the People’s revolution and now there is an enormous demand. Auctions love demand. This piece had a $400-600 estimate from this very reputable auction house and their experts. But no one can predict an auctions power and performance when there is demand and scarcity. I keep saying, Chinese Antiques are hot, but it is really most things Asian. Keep your eyes peeled.

Let’s go to Jersey, because my ship just came in. Well, I wish this was my ship.

#6 is a Toy Battleship by Marklin that brought $32,000 at Bertoia. This rare clock work mechanical toy would have been made between 1902 and 1907, so early 20th Century. Marklin, the German toy maker was founded in 1859 & began as a doll house accessory maker. But just before the turn of the century, they moved in to the model railroad and technical toys market. They never looked back and are still in business today. In Europe, Marklin is how we in the US think of Lionel. And just like Lionel, their prewar toys and trains are really worth learning about.

And let’s stick with toys and head to Ohio…

#5 is a Bandai Flying Spaceman Friction Toy that soared to $46,000 at Milestone Auctions. A yes, that flying Spaceman sure looks a lot like Superman but in the days before licensing or authorized copies, all bets were off…especially in the 1950s and early 60s. This is also what we call a Cross Collectible. It’s collectible as a vintage tin toy, a superhero comic book toy, a space toy, you name it. It is freakin’ collectible. This also shows us that condition, having the original box and overall rarity can mean big money. This had a $15,000-$20,000 pre-auction estimate or educated guess as I like to call it. Many people out there believe that pre-auction estimates are appraisals, and they are not. Knowing what the bidding public will do on any giving day is not an exact science, but it’s sure fun to try guessing.

But anyway…Let’s head to Dallas for this next one, which just feels fitting.

#4 is 1953 Hank Williams Concert Poster that brought $120,000 at Heritage. WOW! But why so much you ask? I’ll tell you. This was an original concert window card for the great Hank Williams…and it was advertising his upcoming Canton OH New Year's Day 1953. Sadly, as many of you may know, this never happened. He died on his way in the back of the car taking him to this very show, or "the day the music died.” Mr. Williams was only 29 years old. This poster has great provenance too, having previously been on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was recently featured in the Ken Burns Country Music TV docuseries. A chance to own this one made all the serious bidders come out. It had all the makings for Auction History. It did not disappoint its fans.

Okay, lets jet From Dallas to London.

#3 is a Pair of Adidas Sneakers that scored $173,000 at Christies. These were not just any shows but the Soccer Boots of 1 Lionel Messi. (lee·uh·nel meh·see) Further, these were the game-worn boots, used to break a long-standing football record and one the Great Pele’s records. His 644th goal December 22nd, 2020 was the most goals scored ever for a single club. Also, proceeds benefitted charity which tends to boost auction action, but why I bring this up is Sneakers, the genre.

It’s not just sneakers owned by the world famous commanding the big bucks, but there are several makes and models you should be hunting. I knew Vintage Sneakers had a cult following but now, mainstream, they are fetching $5000, $10,000 and more if you know what to look for. I, myself am going to learn more. I have been seeing crazy records being set.

My buddy Scott in Prescott just sold a pair of 1985 Air Jordan’s for $5000. There is real money here. Maybe we will shoot a sneaker episode.

But lets go to Chicago.

#2 is an Alphonse Mucha (moocha) Painting that just brought $370,000 at Hindman. Again, about $300,000 more than it’s pre auction estimate, this 1920, 30x25 inch beauty was authenticated by the Mucha foundation and had most recently been in a private collection, here in Scottsdale Arizona. Not a household name, you may recognize Mucha’s work as an illustrator and graphic artist. If you know Art Nouveau, you know Mucha’s work. The turn of the century features his art on everything….Champagne Bottles, Magazine Covers, Cigarette Packs, Calendar Toppers, Travel and Movie Posters. Yes, that’s pretty rock star for any artist.

In fact, several of his posters can fetch $10,000 plus. This period poster fetched $42,000 at an auction Florida in 2018. And while I am at it, other original period posters from other artists can be of considerable value as well. Just another tip and something to keep your eyes peeled for.

But lets keep with this Art and Illustration theme and head back to Dallas.

#1 this is week is Original Art for a Saturday Evening Post Cover that brought $3,450,000 at Heritage and NO…it was not by Norman Rockwell. See smarty pants…oh wait, I thought it was too, but it was Joseph Christian Leyendecker. To most, not a household name but a principal figure in the Golden Age of Illustration for sure. With his Arrow Collar Man, it is said he defined the dress and everyday activated for the prewar generation. With over 300 covers to his credit, he and The Saturday Evening Post revolutionized modern magazine design. His influence on Norman Rockwell work is obvious.

I also wanted to mention that after 3.4 Million Dollars, you might want to keep an eye out for original magazine illustrations. This may be a dying art…. heck, maybe dead, but all the more reason to keep an eye out. There will be demand and collectors for several reasons and for years to come. Nostalgia and reverence will be felt no matter where the future of art is headed.

I am Josh Levine and we made it. That was Last Week at the Auction. Next week I’ll have more from Last Week or this at the Auction, I think that’s right.

Until next post...



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