Monday, May 2, 2011

Le Marche' Aux Puces, Mississippi-Style

For those of you who don't speaka da frenchie, that there means "the flea market"--a place that has been my weekend home for a couple months now.

I love it!!!!!

I've also made it to "regular" status, which means that the other regulars are starting to come over and chat rather than come over to scope out what I'm selling.  Well, they're still doing that, but at least they say hello, how ya doin' as they're casting covetous glances at my costume jewelry (cheap!), Pyrex (cheap!), and other (really cheap!) stuff.  I'm also starting to meet really nice shoppers (hey Terri! hey Suzi of Identity Vintage in Bay St. Louis! hey Heisey Bob!). 

I'm displaying costume jewelry necklaces and my handmade jewelry necklaces on an upended table, which I thought was going to work better than it does.  I sold five of my necklaces to a local shopowner, but that's been the extent of those sales--the costume jewelry sells better even though my gemstone necklaces are (cheap!).  Vintage pins and earrings are displayed in the case and they've been selling quite well since I'm pretty much giving them away.  I'm assuming most of the women interested in the costume jewelry are resellers and I don't care who buys my stuff, but it makes me happy when a true collector stops by.

Speaking of which, many of the booth's visitors are people who walk in and immediately start flipping over pieces of glass and pottery looking for a maker's mark.  I've stopped trying to explain to them that many companies didn't mark all their wares--the last time I said that, the man looked at me and said, "Sorry, but it's all about the mark, honey." 

No, it's really all about how stupid and sexist you are, bucko.  I quote from my Westmoreland reference book by Lorraine Kovar, an authority on glass by anyone's definition:
"Speaking of marks, there are a few collectors that refuse to collect any Paneled Grape unless it is marked with a WG.  These collectors are missing out on several of the rarest pieces.  While Westmoreland made a concerted effort to mark Paneled Grape pieces and other lines, it wasn't a priority.  If a mark wore out on a mold it wasn't replaced unless something else on the mold needed to be fixed.  Some of the odd baskets, such as the fireside basket, were produced late in Westmoreland's history.  Some of these late pieces will have the circular Westmoreland mark.  This leads to confusion because many of the reproductions have this same circular mark.  It cannot be said enough that it is up to the collector to know what they are buying.  Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it usually is!  Be wary of dealers that have known reproductions along with genuine pieces.  Either they do not know what they are doing or they are trying to fool the public.  Reproductions do have their place but it is a shame when a collector buys a new piece thinking it is old.  When the collector finds out his mistake, he sometimes gets so turned off that he quits collecting."

During one of my mad eBay binges a couple years ago, there was a beautiful Westmoreland Cherry pattern 12" pedestal cookie jar and lid up for auction.  The seller's description proudly announced that both the lid and the bottom were marked with the WG!  In my eagerness to find out how much this beautiful piece of glass was worth, I flipped to the value page and saw "Rare $200.00"!  Woo hoo--so I bid and won it for the paltry sum of $25 plus, as I remember, about the same for shipping--the jar is a foot tall and solid glass.

In short order, it arrived and I was pleased to see it was expertly boxed and wrapped in a mile of bubble wrap.  Perfect!  I checked for the WG marks and they were there just as described, and, just to reaffirm that I'd gotten the deal of the century, I gazed happily at the value page and it was then that I noticed the picture of the underside of the jar's base with the words "see text description on this base."

Uh oh.

"The cookie jar has been widely reproduced in many colors.  Please view the picture of the bottom of the cookie jar on page 33.  Original jars must have a star, a circle in the center of the star, and a "WG" in the center of the star.  It is impossible to tell a reproduction lid from an original lid;  only the bottom gives collectors a clue."

So OF COURSE I had bought a repro.  Lesson learned.  I did manage to sell the cookie jar at the antique mall but I made sure to write on the tag that it was a reproduction.  The lady who bought it was thrilled to have it, so it all ended well.

So all that is to say that just because something isn't marked doesn't mean it's not the real deal.  Let the buyer beware, though, because there are ALOT of reproductions with all the right marks out there.  Which doesn't mean a hill of beans to the flea market pickers--they want it marked, they want it in perfect condition, and they want it cheaper than dirt.  Since they're going to resell it, probably to someone who will put it in an antique store or mall, they don't have to verify that it's the real deal.

Old Fiesta platter and salt & pepper shakers--the platter was marked, the shakers weren't, but fortunately someone bought them who collected (and used) Fiestaware.

 Genuine Deccafile record case.  No one would buy it because it wasn't stuffed full of old 45's, even though you'd think the $4 price tag would indicate it was empty (plus when you picked it up it was quite light, being made of cardboard and all).  100 year old platter, no takers.  Unmarked milk glass plate with decorative border that was bought at the end of the second day by a tiny old lady who didn't speak a lick of English--when her daughter told her that I'd said "three dollars" when asked the price, her eyes lit up and she dug into her coin purse and pulled out a wrinkled five dollar bill.  Being the sentimental sucker that I am, I gave her three bucks in change.  Ahhhhhhh.

 For the first time, I brought a bunch of my salt & pepper shakers and sold about half of them.  The best S&P sale was when a huge heavily-bearded biker-looking guy walked up, spied the vintage poodle set and almost started to jump up and down with excitement.  Turns out he collects vintage poodle stuff!  Who knew? 

I always stay at my booth when I'm at the flea market because if I started walking around I'd spend every bit of my profits. Unfortunately, a new vendor showed up just two booths away from me and as soon as I saw her hauling out boxes of Pyrex I knew, tragically, that I was doomed. Plus she totally made my (cheap!) prices look (not so cheap!).  I managed to stay away from her most of the day but every once in awhile she'd pull something else glorious out of her van--the prize of the day was this fantastic vintage red bullet Xmas tree stand that sat there ALL DAY LONG until I happened to notice it and immediately ran over and snagged it for three bucks.  Of course I also sent a photo of it to Miz 1950's Ranch, Expert On Everything, just to make sure it was what I thought it was.  And it was.
(You will note the close proximity of my booth to the restrooms.  This was not an accident.  I knew I was going to have to be as close as possible since I could only force the hubby to sit there with me for 1/2 of the weekend.  Now that I've become a regular, though, my fabulous neighbors Joel and Lisa are kind enough to watch my stuff so I can dash off at the last minute, and hubby gets to stay home with the dogs in the A/C).

So now you know what I've been doing instead of blogging and hitting the thrift stores.  What have YOU been up to?????


  1. It's great when you get to know people you're selling alongside, isn't it? makes the time go faster too! I hope you're doing well with it.

  2. What a fun post! I love hearing about your adventures in selling at the flea market. I'm one of those people that needs to see a mark on the bottom of something, otherwise I don't know what it is. I wish McCoy had marked everything, but that doesn't stop me from buying something if I like it. I don't need the mark for resale purposes, I just want to know for myself whether I have a piece of McCoy or Napco or whatever.
    I sent GJB an Easter card, and I hope he's doing well. He's so funny. Now I know where you get your sense of humor!

  3. I love the motorcycle dude who jumped up & down for the poodle S&P shakers!! Sounds like you're having fun & making some friends & $$; that's so great!

  4. Hi stranger! Figured you were up to 'no good'! lol
    I'd be in heaven at that 'market' and I'd be able to ask the expert, that being you, about everything.
    You mentioned A/C? Well we have the 'natural' A/C here.......still!!

  5. Hey, did you sell the egg salt and pepper shakers? If not, I want 'em. Send me an invoice!

    I wish I could come and really LOOK at your booth...

  6. What a great post. I enlarged the pics and scoured them from top to bottom. I've been junkin, spending time with family traveling back and forth to Tulsa. Faded Roses is going to join me mid-month for some marathon junkin and shopping, and I'll be sure to take pics.

  7. Gee your days sound so wonderful Christine! And glad you have established yourself as a "regular". Helps to get to know the folks you "work" along side of. P.S. I'd HAVE to be located by the restrooms!

    I thought how selling there must be "easier" than selling on eBay, then I remembered when my Dad used to go sell stuff at the Swap Meet back in the day, and the hassle it was for him (I don't think he ever unpacked the station wagon, he just drove around with the swap meet stuff and saved himself the trouble on the weekends).

    I had to cancel and get all my cards reissued (a shitty business related problem, which sucked as everything stopped for a week including my little netflix enjoyment) so that meant NO shopping or even LOOKING at eBay without being able to buy anything.

    So... In lieu of anything FUN like shopping, I have been painting the master bedroom. Zzzzzzzzzzz... Lord help me to get all this stupid painting done lol...

    (((hugs))) Hope you sell everything you have!!

  8. I would love to visit you at the Flea Market! I would be broke though... I love all your stuff and you have the best things! Pyrex down the way from you, OK so I 'might' have to visit that booth also. No sales for me right now. I'm trying to recoop from helping with the new baby....they cost lots of $$ and Grandma contributed. hugs, Linda

  9. Vintage Fiesta has that certain something. And the colors were fabulous. I don't care much for the modern colors that they're producing now. I missed out on my yellow pitcher. Some day I'll find one via eBay or in a local store.

    We don't have flea markets like that around here. The ones around here are generally junk, pure and simple.

  10. Your booth from what I can see looks great! It would surely catch my eye.. I would PROBABLY RUN TO IT!! hehehe

    We have a weekly flea market here I have been giving the thought to paying the $5.00 for a spot and seeing how it goes for a week or two, but I still have not got around to it. =/ "Good ole putting things off at its best"

  11. oh wee you have some juicy stuff. i lurve the vintage record box.