Some ordinary guy or gal forks over a few bucks for an old trinket. Later they discover they've found an antique treasure. Although you've been entertained by such tales on Oprah and Cable Channels, they don't take place on television. They happen frequently in your community. Here's one concerning a now kind-of-famous antique typewriter.
Highly respected Avon, CT dealers, Irene and Marty Martin were on their way to a house call to look at some antiques. "It was a Thursday evening, about 5:00 o'clock," Irene said.
The husband and wife team has been in business 43 years. A great deal of their success is said to have come from Irene's astute buying eye.
"In addition to our specialties (old toys, country store, advertising and medical items) Marty and I look for unusual antiques-curiosities. Anyhow, we had left for our appointment early and a tag sale had stayed open late. Thought about passing on it. The owners were getting ready to close up and Marty and I assumed that anything of merit had already been purchased. But we didn't. It looked like the homeowners had a good day. The sale was pretty well cleaned out. On a table, in addition to other items, was a box containing an old typewriter and some of its parts that had apparently fallen off."
Irene explained that although dealers and everyone else who had been at this busy sale had looked at the typewriter and passed she purchased it for its tagged price of $50.
"The man who owned it encouraged me," Irene said. "It had interesting look. I thought it was an antique with good upside potential," she said. Irene's good eye would prove to be right again!
As the eventual buyer, Garden City, NY typewriter collector, Anthony Casillo, describes on his informative web page "Typewriter Memory Lane" www.typewritercollector.com, Marty and Irene's typewriter was invented by a New Yorker, E.A Ford in 1895. (No known relation to Henry Ford) Its most distinguishing characteristics are a three-row keyboard and an ornate copper striped latticework front shield with the name FORD clearly cast in the center. Apparently Ford's marketing efforts didn't pan out because few of the typewriters were manufactured an even fewer have survived.
"As I've learned," Irene told me, "about 20 or so are known but more importantly, the Ford typewriter is a very desirable collectors item. One of the reasons our tag sale find was so valuable were those Ford parts lying in that box. Apparently, those parts were critical to making this typewriter whole and without them the final price may have resulted in only a fraction of its full potential. Marty was funny. He laughed at me when I carried that $50 purchase back to the car. What pile of junk did you buy now? He joked."
Mr. and Mrs. Martin were one of the first dealers to take advantage of Internet technology as a way of marketing their antiques.
"We started almost 15 years ago," Irene said. "When eBay was first started. It's been a super way of doing business."
The couple took an electronic photograph of their typewriter and put it up for competitive bidding on their popular eBay auction site, firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We put a $300 reserve on it," Irene explained. "Soon-after, it skyrocketed past $1000. I knew we had something special three specialists came to our house the next day to inspect the piece in person."
I asked Irene if she and Marty got excited over all that quick action.
"Yes!" she said.
Just as scientific and technological arenas are amongst the fastest growing in today's world economy, so too has antique interest grown these areas. Most old gadgets, especially typewriters, have little antique value. Some do, however. We'll talk more on what to look for next week.
About that old Ford typewriter, veteran typewriter collector Anthony Casillo, who was also early in his efforts to set up his Antique Typewriter Web Site back in May of 1996, had the winning bid at a whopping $15,500. Way to go Irene and Marty!
Copyright 2000 by Wayne Mattox and reproduced with permission, Copyright 2017.
Tag Sale Typewriter Brings Big Bucks on E-Bay