Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Everybody's an Expert

Something insubstantial today, because I made the mistake, over the weekend, to clean out the corner of the property where the groundhog lives. The groundhog evidently knew what I was up to and decided to engage in some chemical warfare, which has led to a most peculiar, and painful, allergic reaction over a good portion of the right side of my body.

In reality: I’m now suffering a very nasty case of allergic contact dermatitis, probably caused by the perennial helianthus I was yanking out with wild abandon. (Knew that stuff was evil the day I picked it up at the perennial exchange. Knew it!) I got something for it, no worries …yet.

On the plus side, it’s just horrible looking enough to keep some of my more annoying coworkers at a distance. ("Hey, can I borrow some of your …gah! Never mind!")

Sunday was another very strange day at the flea market. I found a nice little box lot of horsey-type stuff, super-cheap - seriously, I could sell the wooden box everything was thrown into for the price I paid for the lot, and then some. Nothing spectacular, just some older FAFs, a Hartland Chubby Walker knock-off and some toyish things:

Yes, some of them have been painted over; I totally love the shade of purple on the Hartland knockoff (the Red Ryder one?); I think I see another crazy, Joseph Cornell-inspired art project in my near future.

The strange part was the dealer getting into an argument with me after I paid for it. I’m used to dealers - especially ones that don’t know me - throwing all kinds of BS at me to get me to buy something. But she was trying to impress me after the fact, with other Breyers she had sold in the past.

Everything she mentioned, though, pointed towards them being Hartlands: The Lone Ranger, Tonto, Roy Rogers, etc. And I told her so - either that, or she was confusing them with newer pieces. Nothing rude or anything, just a simple "Oh, those sound more like Hartlands" type of statement.

She got indignant, told me they were OLD, and were marked BREYER, and implied I didn’t have any clue what I was talking about. I started citing chapter and verse about the horses in the box (that the curly eartips on the Family Foals date them to 1961 or 1962 at the latest, that the purple horse was a repainted Hartland copy, etc.) but she wasn’t having any of it.

So I walked away from it. Poor, dumb little me wiIl make money on the deal without even breaking a sweat.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten used to the "regulars" there giving me some props for knowing my stuff. I don’t know everything - nobody does - but I’d like to think that I’m at least the local, "resident" expert. I was just trying to be helpful. Ask around!

I get some of the same from fellow hobbyists, from time to time. Everyone who buys a reference book or two suddenly thinks they’re an expert. Which may well be the case if you’re at a yard sale or auction house, but not at BreyerFest or on MHSP, dearies.

It unnerves me when I see auctions go way higher than they need to, based on bad photography, wishful thinking, or wrong impressions. There have been times when I’ve gone out of my way to dissuade hobbyists from thinking something is more rare than it is, even if it meant me getting less for it in the end.

I tend to err on the side of most hobbyists knowing what they have, generally. There may be some gaps in their knowledge, or finer details they may miss, sure, but unless they’re hard up for cash, or been out of the market for a while, you’ll have to find your crazy-spectacular deals elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

How does one tell the difference between the Hartland Chubby & its knockoffs? I haven't gotten into the horse & rider sets (yet) but I literally just yelled at my screen. "Chubby! BLUE!"

ANDREA said...

The plastic is very tinny and light - styrene, not Tenite - and there's no mold marks to speak of.

Love Breyer Horses said...

That may be the first purple horse I've ever seen, what a fun find!

Julie said...

I know I come across it with antique dealers telling me how to pronounce "BREEEEEEYER". lol

Anonymous said...

Ah, good ol' styrene vs Tenite; thank you.

Suzanne said...

It would be an interesting research topic: on ebay, do poorly photographed items sell better? I’m starting to think “Yes!” :^D