Feb 21, 2014

Whiskey Making Collectibles: Remembering our Moonshining History

Aug. 10, 1958, just north of Blacksburg, Va.:

The blue ’58 Ford sedan was hard to keep on the road. Moving at nearly 90 miles per hour and heavily loaded in the back, the car’s front tires weren’t making good contact with the pavement, causing the vehicle to “dance” over the winding and hilly mountain roads. The Ford was equipped with a supercharged Offenhauser engine, believed by many to be the best racing engine ever built. At 90 mph, the Ford was nowhere near its maximum speed. The back seat and the trunk of the Ford were loaded with 200 gallons (1,300 lbs.) of moonshine whiskey destined for Winston-Salem, N.C..

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) enforcement agent spotted the Ford from a high bank overlooking the road. ABC agents had received intelligence about this run, and a trap had been set. At the Gap Mills Bridge, two Thunderbird interceptors blocked the road, forming a “V” that no car could pass. A mile down the road from the lookout, a pursuit car waited: a souped-up 1950 Oldsmobile 88. The pursuit car would chase the liquor-laden Ford to the blockade, bringing it to a halt.

That’s the way it was supposed to happen. But the Ford’s driver had other plans. Read More...

Feb 19, 2014

Rarity Is Key In Vintage Board Game Value

Growing up in the 1950s, board games were a regular part of my family life. Back then we only had three TV stations and AM radio—that was the BC era: “Before Cable.”

Whenever the weather got stormy, TV reception would suffer. No matter how much Dad fiddled with the rabbit-ears antenna, we would get more snow than show. No TV; too rainy to go outside. A sibling would say to Mom “I’m bored”! She would reply, “So, play a bored game.”

At that point, some portion of the seven of us would gather around the dining-room table to play a board game. Every Christmas, one or more of my siblings received a board game as a gift. Over time, our family accumulated a cupboard full of them.

Given the abundance of board games found at estate sales, it seems that my family wasn’t the only one with a cupboard of games. Estate shoppers almost always find a tableful of board games at sales. Most of the games will sell for a dollar or two, but if the game is complete and in good condition, it may fetch $5 or $10.

Vintage board games sell regularly on eBay for $10 to $20. But, as with most collectibles, some rare games may fetch hundreds of dollars or more.

Which board games are collectible? Any game that is in excellent condition is collectible, but not necessarily valuable. Excellent condition means that the box is intact and has no split edges and the graphics are not faded. All the pieces must be in the box; no missing dice, tokens, spinner or any other item that is needed to play the game. Read More...

Feb 17, 2014

Smart Pickers Find Gold in Vintage Bikes

Pickers everywhere dream of finding collectible “gold” stashed away in a barn or an attic. It seems almost weekly that the media is abuzz with the latest story of an artwork, coin, first-edition book or historic document found among household goods at an estate sale or thrift shop.

Most of these finds are just dumb luck, but collectors know that gold is often found among commonplace items at estate liquidation sales.

Take vintage bicycles, for example. Every estate has them; they’re as common as pots and pans.

Back in the 1980s, suburban streets and parks were jammed with BMX bikes. Top-of-the-line bikes could be purchased new for a few hundred dollars. Kids outgrew them or moved on to racing bikes or mountain bikes and then on to cars. When that happened, the BMX bikes with banana seats and passenger studs in the rear went into the garage, and decades later they were found, tires stuck to the floor from lack of use, seats mildewed and with a light layer of rust on the handlebars. Estate liquidators hosed them down and offered them for sale.

Rideable bicycles of all sorts are regularly sold at estate sales for under $100; unrideable ones for $10 or $15. Sometimes, though, they sold for $32,928. Or $5,500. Or $400.  Read More...