Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hanging With The Big Dogs...Part II

***Author's note: You can read Part I of this story by clicking here.***

...It wasn't quite the 1909 Wagner card, but any Mickey Mantle card would be a great addition to my collection.

When I scanned the crowd at the memorabilia auction I knew I might be out of my league. This wasn't the usual "Let's go to the auction because there isn't anything else to do in this town on a Saturday night" crowd. I noticed most of them (older men and their grandsons) were wearing Rolexes, Polo shirts, Duckhead shorts and Top-sider shoes. One kid wanted a soda and his grandpa pulled out a wad of bills and shook his head because he didn't have anything smaller than a hundred. Another guy, upon further inspection, was wearing sunglasses that had dollar signs as logos and so many rings and gold chains that Mr T would have been envious. Another guy kept walking around looking at everything while talking on his cell phone. Maybe, I was out of my league.

The auction continued throughout the morning and into the afternoon. I had purchased a few Civil War relics at what I thought were very reasonable prices. The auctioneer would divide his time between the ball cards, war relics, vintage train parts and other signed pieces; this auction had a bit of everything.

I heard a voice beside me say, "Are you gonna bid on anything here?" It was one of the guys that worked at the other auction that I normally attend. "These prices are way to high!"

"I'm about to bid on something right now," I said. It was time for the Mantle card to be auctioned and I was ready. I had my set price in my head and my bid card in hand. The opening bid was $400, I was out of contention before I even got to bid. The card ended up going for $1200.

The man and I smiled at each other, shrugged our shoulders in a resigned fashion and watched the auction continue on. After a few moments, he turned and said, "I'll see you next Saturday night."

You might think the story ends here, but it doesn't. Another fellow I know who owns a pawn shop was at the auction too. He purchased a few signed pieces and some of the Civil War artifacts. He is also an expert on military items. One of the items purchased by me was a Bowie knife reportedly used during the Civil War. It had all of the markings to make it seem like I had found another Holy Grail and would be one of those people on Antiques Roadshow that goes, "How much?" However, the auctioneer had tested the knife and it was of that era but not the one that would make me a millionaire.

I took the knife to the pawn shop the next week just to show it to the man; he had arrived after I had purchased it. His eyes lit up when I showed him the knife and I related everything I knew about it. "Let me have a friend look at it," he said. "Come back in a few days."

I returned to the pawn shop and noticed several of the pieces that I had seen at the auction a few days before. "Looks like you have a good collection started, "I said.

"Yeah. I bought a couple just to put here in the store. I'm glad I didn't buy anything else; those signatures are all fake. Another guy came in here wanting to pawn a Mickey Mantle signed card that he purchased at the auction and I told him it was a fake. He reminded me of Mr T for some reason."

"Wow! I bet he wasn't very happy."

"Nope. Anyway, you've got a good piece here. It's not the Holy Grail, but you should get a couple hundred for it. How much you give for it"

"Only $35," I said.

"You got a good deal. Good thing you're into knives and not baseball cards. That fella told me he paid $1200 for that Mantle card."

I guess I wasn't out of my league after all.

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