Friday, July 15, 2011

Always Doing Research

The July Brimfield Antique Show is said to be the smallest of the three.  But if you have a bad back and no access to one of those battery powered things from the Scooter Store, it's still a big show.  As it was on my way home from Mom's house where I'm cleaning and organizing for a sale, I thought I'd stop and look around.  I found a great parking lot with trees located about the center of the show and just started randomly checking out booths.  I was struck by how it all just looked like a bigger version of Mom's house.  Now I can find out what all that swag is worth.

The first booth had vintage crocheted doilies, handmade aprons, hand towels, and table cloths.  I found boxes and bags of the same type of items at Mom's.  Doilies started at $2, most were $3, and the biggest ones were $12.  Aprons were $5 a piece, tablecloths $8-$10. And all prices were negotiable.  How sad that items women spent hours creating were going so cheaply.  Other booths with similar items had similar prices.

Several booths had a variety of old kitchen gadgets, dishes, and bowls.  Just like the ones I found at Mom's.  The prices were actually less than what I would pay for similar new items.  Those old fashioned meat grinders from my childhood were $12. Yup, I have one of those too.

I brought pictures with me of a few things and showed toy dealers a picture of my "Screwball" game.  No one had a clue what it was worth.  Online I found one for $105 and another selling for $20.  Cabbage Patch kids don't sell at all but my Ginny Doll might be worth a few dollars with the clothes and wardrobe I have.

The old Singer sewing machine might get $40-$60.  An enamel top table from the 50's that I thought was worth hundreds will bring less than $100.

Old novels published in the 1940s by Somerset Maugham & Thomas Costain are going for $3.  No one cares about print books anymore.

I have a set of china from about 1920.  Unfortunately the glaze is crazed but it has 22k gold trim.  In Brimfield I found dishes in perfect condition with a fancier gold trim selling for $5 each.

I wasn't even looking for the best piece of information I got. I found a booth with old service weapons and lots of survival knives.  I unearthed one in Mom's cellar. The expert there told me that it was issued to service men in WWII and not Japanese as I had thought.  He told me to look for a number on the blade.  Well, it's too rusty.   But in examining the knife again when I got home I noticed, scratched but faded in the dried out leather sheath, what looked like "LST 113?".  After some googling I found out that Dad was on LST1139 in the Pacific and was present when the Japanese surrendered.  Dad never talked about his stint in the Navy so I had no idea.

Like the artisans I talk to at craft shows, these antique and vintage dealers are having a bad year.  Nothing is selling for what it's worth but it still costs $1000 for a spot in Brimfield.  I noticed some people buying, mostly large pieces of furniture that they probably got at a price they could finally afford.   Estate jewelry, household items, hardware, etc. had little traffic and I couldn't count the number of 1/2 price and sale signs I saw.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Crafts on the Common -- Successful and Rain Free

Sunshine and occasional cool breezes made for a pleasant Saturday in Amherst at the Annual Crafts on the Common Craft Show.  We were shouting distance from the always wonderful Amherst Farmer's Market and  had a great spot between Amy, who does wood carved sculptures and Shannon, who drew a crowd of children for face painting.
Didn't even realize my friend, Rebecca, was in the background.

And here's Bethany getting into the steampunk spirit of things with Shannon's help--

We at Jansjems featured mostly steampunk designs.  They are really popular with all ages at this show.  We also had a small collection of traditional jewelry just in case.  But we only sold a couple of those pieces.  I did have to say "goodbye" to one of my favorite steampunk pieces.                                                  

Several other members of the Artisans of Western Mass. were there--

Lou's Upcycles had a corner booth and her banner stood out nicely from a distance.

Cutsomers got drawn in by Aviva's bright and colorful Sieberdesigns.

And you couldn't miss Wild Child's tie dyed clothing.

Steve was there with handcrafted soaps and skin care products from Little Birch Farm.

Another jeweler from the group, Mary Risley Jewelry, brought her beautiful silver and gemstone pieces to the show.

It was really nice seeing some of my former co-workers from the Umass Library who stopped by the tent to chat.  The Indian food was great and the snow cones were enormous.  And it was nice to spend the day with artistic friends and appreciative customers.

Even Hamlet had a good time.  I don't think he bought anything but it looks like he chatted with friends.

For an official review of this show, see my side pages.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Street Drugs

No, Jansjems isn't offering another product.  This is just my latest healthcare/health insurance rant.

Scenario: Mom injures her back, needs to move into assisted living, and has to take narcotic X for the pain.  She subsequently gets sent to the emergency room and is admitted into the hospital.  Those doctors think narcotic Y is a better fit for her and after treatment send her back with a prescription for Y.  I have to take the leftover X home because assisted living doesn't want to be responsible for it.  A week later she again gets sent to the emergency room.  This time for pneumonia.  They treat her and send her off to rehab where, after dealing with her pain issues, they try narcotic Z.  They send her home with a prescription for Z.  I have to remove what's left of Y.                                                                      

I now have 4 blister packs of narcotics with a pretty high street value.  These were all paid for by the insurance company as Mom's co-pay was only $3 for each prescription.  And no one seems to wonder where all the unused pills have gone.

Responsible citizen that I am, I trot over to the pharmacy and ask if they'll take back the unused pills.  They legally can't.  I ask how to dispose of them.  They suggest the local dump.

The dump doesn't want them because they will find their way into the ground water no matter how I package them.

You can't flush them as sewage treatment doesn't remove the drugs and animals who drink the treated water will still be harmed.

I happened to be at the fire station asking how to dispose of some really old traffic flares I found.  While there I asked if they knew anything about drug disposal.  They sent me to the Board of Health.
BTW, the FD couldn't tell me what to do with the flares.  Said they'd get back to me after they talk to the EPA.  I'm still waiting. 

The Board of Health didn't have a clue about drug disposal either but thought the police might have a "drug take back day".  So I stopped at the police station.  They said they might have one in the near future (no date as yet)  and I should watch the local access channel for a date.  Well, this is all taking place in Mom's town.  I'm there a couple days each week cleaning out her house. I don't watch the access channel.  And  I don't subscribe to the local paper.

So I told the cop at the desk that I was going to set up a stand on Main St.  I was sure I could be rid of these drugs in 10-15 minutes and would make some descent money for my trouble.  He smiled and told me that was illegal.                                                        

We all want clean water and a healthier environment. But  sometimes it takes a lot of research to do the right thing.

On a positive note: Last week I took an SUV filled with 60 years worth of oil based paints, weed killers, bug sprays, turpentine, and cans too rusted to read to the dump for their toxic waste disposal day.  I called Casella, they gave me the date, I arrived, and my car was emptied for me and the contents sorted on the spot.  Quick, easy, convenient.  Everything should be like that.  But they don't take flares and they don't take drugs.  And this is why people put into the trash so many things they're not supposed to.                    

Well, before one of you comes looking for me with a wad of cash, I brought the drugs back to my home town and stopped at my police station.  I was told that because we have a transfer station rather than a traditional dump, everything gets incinerated. So drugs in the trash bags are acceptable.  The drugs have been sent off to be incinerated.