What to remember before you refinish a piece of furniture

You finally found that piece of vintage furniture that would look great in your house or apartment.  There are some things that you need to remember before you refinish the piece.

The first thing to remember is that you could be messing with the value of the piece.  With antique furniture (like items in the Chippendale era for example), there is a sizable chunk of the value of the piece invested in the original finish.  I’ve seen the value drop up to 50% when the piece of furniture was refinished.  A good rule of thumb on valuable pieces of furniture is to refrain from doing anything major yourself (dusting it off is more often the way to go).

The second thing to remember is how much it will cost to refinish and repair the piece.  I have seen furniture at auctions, flea markets and estate sales that need a good amount of repair work to go along with the refinishing.  Replacing legs, chair seats or even table tops could drive up the cost quite a bit.

The last thing to remember is how much time it will take to do the refinishing.  Over the years, I have seen a refinishing project take up to a week because of the number of steps in the process.  If you don’t have much time to begin with, you may want to stick with just stripping the old finish off and putting on some new stain.

What types of furniture have you refinished?

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What you need to know when you set up an antique booth

You start to look around the house and you notice that you have quite a few things that you have collected that you now want to sell.  You know that the items are too expensive for a garage sale, and you don’t have the time to list the items for sale online.

What do you do now?

A booth in an antique mall or a flea market is a wonderful way to help you make some money and clear out some of those things that you have around the house.  There are some things that you need to know before for jump into renting a booth.

The first thing you need to do is to find the perfect place for you to set up a booth at.  This could be at a place that you love to shop at or even heard of.  The best thing to keep in mind is to see if that place has a pretty good amount of foot traffic going through it.  This will help you have more potential sales.

Another thing you need to know is if the antique mall or flea market requires you to stay a certain amount of time.  It’s rare for this to happen in the area that I live in–you can shut down the booth after just one month if you want to.

More often than not, you will need to pay for your first month’s rent on the booth.  I’ve seen the rent cost anywhere from $35 for a small booth or showcase all the way up to $300 for a large booth.

The place that you want to rent a booth at may charge you a commission on every item you sell.  You need to ask if they do, and even how much the commission is (I’ve seen it around 10% of the selling price of the item).

You might be able to opt out of the commission; the mall might charge you a little more on the rent of the booth to cover this commission.

The mall will require you to have a number—this will help the mall separate out who sold what.  This will be done the day that you set up the booth, but don’t worry—the mall will have a list of what numbers the other dealers have so there is no confusion.

A word of advice—look to see what kind of tags the dealers are using (a piece of tape may not be wanted at the mall).  One thing that I have seen a lot of is a piece of paper cut into a small square tied on with twine or ribbon.

Good luck and lots of sales to you!

Here’s some fun facts about PEZ dispensers

One of the things that I remember having around during my childhood is a PEZ dispenser.  The Hulk, Garfield and even Spiderman were some of the dispensers that I had, and nothing could beat that cherry flavored candy.

PEZ candy was first produced in Vienna, Austria in 1927.  The candy was first advertised as a compressed peppermint sweet, and PEZ is actually an abbreviation for PfeffErminZ (that’s German for peppermint).  These candies came in a tin that looks like what Altoids come in today.

When the dispensers came about, they were not always called that.  They were called “regulars”, and they looked a lot like a cigarette lighter.  They dispensed an adult breath mint that were marketed as an alternative to smoking.

When 1955 rolled around, the dispensers started to have character heads on them, and this happened after PEZ was introduced in the United States.  One example of these character heads is this POLICEMAN dispenser.

pez man

As you can see, the dispenser should have a police hat on it, but has been lost over time.  Over the years, PEZ has made dispensers with and without feet.

pez feet

As you can tell from the picture above this great example has no feet, and the dispenser date to 1968.

What kind of PEZ dispensers have you had?

Look at all the assorted colors that glass has been produced with!

When you look at the area of glassware, you will see many different colors and finishes that the glass was made with.  There are as many distinct color combinations as there are manufacturing techniques.  Here’s a few of them that you will most likely run across:

Cased Glass—this is glass of one color that has been covered with one or more layers of assorted colors. The outer layers are then acid-etched, carved, cut, or even engraved to produce a design.  This design will stand out from the background, and will have a kind of raised motif when done. The first cameo glasses were made by the Romans in ancient times, and the genre was revived in England and America (to a lesser amount) in the late 19th century.

Flashed Glass—this is glass that has one color with a very thin applied color on the outside (like crystal glass that has a cranberry color applied to it).  This technique is accomplished by applying a chemical compound to the glass and then re-firing the piece to bring out the desired color.  Flashed glass is often used for etched glass (the flashing will be applied after the etching is completed).

Gilding—this is the process of decorating glass using gold leaf, gold paint, or even gold dust. There are examples that have the gilding applied with mercury (it’s called Mercury Gilding.  It’s rarely done today due to its toxicity).  The gilding is then usually attached to the glass by heat.

Peachblow—this is a type of Art Glass made by quite a few American factories in the late 1800’s.  Most Peachblow glass has a coloring that shaded from an opaque cream to pink (or even red), sometimes even over an opaque white.  There was a similar glass that was made in England (it was by Thomas Webb & Sons and even Stevens & Williams).

This is only a small sampling of what has been made.  What kinds of colored glass have you run across?

What are some places for me to sell some of the items that I have bought?

What are some places for me to sell some of the items that I have bought?  This is a common question for everyone from collectors to people trying to start their own business.  There are three places that you can use so you can sell some of your stuff.

The first place is the internet.  There are websites like Etsy, eBay and even Craigslist that allow you to sell your goodies, and the internet has the biggest audience for you to sell your items to.  Just make sure to pack everything really good when your items sell.

The second place to go is open yourself a booth at either an antique mall or flea market.  If you have quite a bit of good items that you want to get rid of, a booth allows you to do this.  It also allows you to go month-to-month on paying rent until everything has been sold off.

The third place to go is to a swap meet.  Swap meets are a lot like setting up a booth at an antique mall or flea market—you will have a booth to set up what you have to sell.  Swap meets typically run a day or two instead of an entire month like a booth.  These are great if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on rent.

These are just a couple of ways to sell the items that you have.  What other ways have you tried or run across?

What are some things to remember when you go shopping for antiques?

Whenever you go shopping for antiques, there are always a few things that you need to remember.  The first thing that you need to keep in mind is what kind of budget that you have.  What I do so that I don’t go over my budget is to write down on a piece of paper how much my bill will be.

Another thing to remember is to keep an idea (or even a list) on what you are looking for.  It could be a lamp for your living room, a carburetor for your Indian motorcycle or even a Morgan dollar for your coin collection.  I often look in reference books or on the internet to see how much the item that I am looking for will cost so that I know what to expect to pay.

The next thing that I do is to figure out where I would like to go.  You may have several antique stores, flea markets and even swap meets that are pretty close to home, so you could hit several of them in one day.

The last thing to do is to throw a box or a sack into your car or truck.  It might sound silly, but I have one when I go shopping—you may be at something like a garage sale or even a swap meet and need to pack something in it.

The best rule of thumb of all is to have fun!

What are some things to consider when it comes to restoring an item?

When do you restore an item?  Do you leave it well enough alone or do you restore it?  These are questions that you will hear when you are dealing antiques and collectibles, and it can be kind of hard to know what to do.

The first thing to know is how much the item is worth—both in its current form and what it will be worth after the restoration.  An effective way to do that is to get an appraisal on the item.  Ask the appraiser to give you an appraisal on both before and after values to see if it is worth it to restore the item.

If the item’s value will go up after the restoration, you need to keep in mind on what the item is.  If it’s something that you don’t feel comfortable restoring yourself (like a rug or a painting), then you will need to find a good conservator to help you out.

Be careful though—restoring an item could get to be a very expensive proposition.  I’ve seen restorations go from as little as $500 (for a painting) to well over $50,000 (for a car).  To help figure out what it will cost to restore your item, I would contact people who do restorations to get an estimate on what to expect.

The last thing to consider is if you want to do the restoration or to just do a few simple repairs to the item—after all, all the item may need is a good cleaning and one or two new items on it.