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Yesterday, the day after Valentines day, my lady wanted to devote the day to traveling to an antique mall that someone had told her was jammed full of old wood woodworking tools. We drove the nearly 2 hours, anticipation high, to find this "treasure trove". So, the first 30 minutes or so were a complete bust. I found 1 wooden jointer plane, an Ohio Tool Co., of which I already have 2 very nice specimens. We turned another corner, and BANG! Hand plane city! There were 3 BIG shelves of wooden molding planes, including several Marples(pre-Irwin, obviously). There was case after case of iron bodied beauties of all makes and models. I thought I'd died and gone to tool heaven. Then I looked at the prices... Then I let out a long string of profanity. Then I asked an employee if they could contact the vendor and see if he would deal on a bulk buy-out. Nope. Firm on pricing. Another long string of profanity.

Now, to be fair, there were some "grail" items there, and they were priced more or less appropriately, but the vast majority were fairly common items in average to nice condition. A #78 missing depth stop for $120?! You, sir, have lost your mind. I really wanted the #7 and #8 type 2's to match the rest of a set I'm working on, but for what he was asking, I could have purchased them in triplicate on the 'bay.

My point is, there is a massive price difference when the name of the establishment is changed from Flea Market to Antique Mall. I should have been a bit more keen to this, as I'm pretty sure I have run into this before, but I was blinded by the promise of more hand tools than I could carry... C'est l' vie, I suppose. I believe I will stick to the rust bins at the dirt malls, for now at least. Thanks for letting me rant.

WCT
 

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Most items in "antique malls" (read: organized garage sale) are either junk or over priced. I've seen many items broken or missing parts with the occasional deal. In some cases I think they don't know what they really have and look in a book and pick the highest price they think they can get for it. You might have better luck on Ebay or one of the online tool exchanges.
 

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I think the only two methods I've found to get the tools I want are patience and perseverance. Garage sales, craigslist, ebay, flea markets, auctions, estates, speaking with friends, poking my nose down the rat hole, even occasional antique store buys. I try to get entire collections whenever I can.
 

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What mavawreck said = There's a lot of leg work to find any prize.

I've witnessed the same thing in estate sales and farm close-outs.
They're still in love with what they're offering for sale.
Nod and smile and walk on.
OTOH, the relatives may just want to see the place cleaned out for whatever they can get to ease their conscience. eg: 12 full size Sorby lathe tools for $100.00? I wanted a spokeshave. "Nope, the whole tool box or nuthin'."
 

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Old School
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They can call it an 'Antique Mall' if they want. There is still old stuff, some are real antiques, while others are just old stuff. I've found it's a constant endeavor finding those treasures. For five sites, one may have something. A lot of the 'miscellaneous' stuff in boxes has to be gone through. You don't know what may be in there.




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On another, perhaps unrelated note but very much in line with the OP's point - I'm a tad curious about the future of the antiques business. Most of the stuff I see in stores now, tools or otherwise, is stale and overpriced. Seems like the inventory turn over is very very low. Not to mention, most everything produced of perceived value is growing older without items from future generations to replace them. I don't picture future junk hunters going gaga over Ikea furniture and import tools. Maybe all that is left in the market these days is crap and there is a shortage of good antiques.

Alternatively, I went in a place with the wife last weekend that was actually loaded with things I'd love to own, which is a rare occurrence. But absolutely everything was priced circa 2007. He had gorgeous glassware, prints, nice furniture, a decent collection of toys, etc. I'm not trying to make money on anything I buy from him, but I can't pay $600.00 for a three stack barrister bookcase that needs to be completely refinished or $100.00 for an older Wyeth print with water and frame damage.
 

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On another, perhaps unrelated note but very much in line with the OP's point - I'm a tad curious about the future of the antiques business. Most of the stuff I see in stores now, tools or otherwise, is stale and overpriced. Seems like the inventory turn over is very very low. Not to mention, most everything produced of perceived value is growing older without items from future generations to replace them. I don't picture future junk hunters going gaga over Ikea furniture and import tools. Maybe all that is left in the market these days is crap and there is a shortage of good antiques.

Alternatively, I went in a place with the wife last weekend that was actually loaded with things I'd love to own, which is a rare occurrence. But absolutely everything was priced circa 2007. He had gorgeous glassware, prints, nice furniture, a decent collection of toys, etc. I'm not trying to make money on anything I buy from him, but I can't pay $600.00 for a three stack barrister bookcase that needs to be completely refinished or $100.00 for an older Wyeth print with water and frame damage.
Let me tell you...

THe last round of auctions I went to, where dealers go to get stuff for their stores, shops, etc... cars everywhere, packed with people of all sorts and prices outrageously high. Many things going for far more than retail but being bought by dealers.

Far as I can tell, prices are rising on lots of categories of old stuff and antiques.

I was in that business in between my prior and woodworking now. I am so happy that I am doing ok making things and building a nice little business. Antiques is becoming competitive and very expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
+1 Gideon. It's a tough, tough business. I'm moving further away from salvage and antiques and more toward salvage and making my own stuff. Tools are going up, for sure, but they're not alone. I think television and Internet have contributed greatly, seeing as how people who would never have known the value in some of their "junk" are now asking for premium $. On the other hand, it also helps to keep items of value, either monetary or historic, out of landfills and scrap yards. I know that the "Schwarz" affect has continuously driven tool prices up(and up, and up), but again, it's not all bad. There are still treasures waiting to be discovered, for those willing to out in the time. I, for one, will continue digging. I'll probably avoid the high priced "antiques", and stick to scrounging flea markets and rural estate sales. It's definitely much more fun, and generally yields the best results anyway. Good luck to the rest of you took hunters, and don't let the b*st*rds beat you!

WCT
 

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What mavawreck said = There's a lot of leg work to find any prize.

I've witnessed the same thing in estate sales and farm close-outs.
They're still in love with what they're offering for sale.
Nod and smile and walk on.
OTOH, the relatives may just want to see the place cleaned out for whatever they can get to ease their conscience. eg: 12 full size Sorby lathe tools for $100.00? I wanted a spokeshave. "Nope, the whole tool box or nuthin'."
Just missed a Sorby set on ebay for $75. Didn't jump as fast as I should have.
 

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w1pers
Don't weep over it. Woodworkers die all the time. Owner #1 was a real dork at edge management. That's the reality of sharpening. I tuned up (freehand) all those tools for owner #2, just to pay it forward for the day that I might like to turn something. What lovely steel to work with. Owner #2 claims they cut better than razor blades.
I don't get all hot and steamy about edge management but I am competent and proficient with any job, freehand. Do your own lawnmower.
 
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