Deal Or No Deal? #2 Art-Prints

Every bargain hunter looks for that piece of art that will someday put them on The Antiques Roadshow, preferably getting an appraisal for a “find” that makes you jump up and  down with joy, rather than the ones that unfortunately discovered as over-valued and over-paid.  Art is especially tricky, unless you are an art expert and even then there are fields of expertise within the various forms of art and periods.  However, this does not stop looking and going to those estate sales, thrift stores, flea markets, rummage sales, auctions and, online auctions.

Online auctions are especially risky since the other bargain hunting forms allow  you to inspect the item in-person to see if it is an original, reproduction, or fake.  Some easy ways of identifying an original from a fake among drawings or prints is to look for raised lines from ink such as in an ink and pen drawing, an etching, or a wood block  print.  Many famous prints can be reproduced by a computer and printer; however, you will be able to tell that with closer observation–you will see the pixels or dots,  a clear indication that the print was reproduced on a computer.  Again, online auctions prevent such verification unless the entity or person putting the piece of art up for bid describes it in detail, and then again, trust comes into play. Additionally, you can see if the print has an artist signature or  any documentation or stamps, provenance, as to its’ authenticity.  Given all that, sometimes it is worth the risk if the item is within your means, and you have done as much research as possible.  The current bid will determine the extent of your research and whether or not you will want or need to seek the advice of an expert.  There are blogs that can assist you in finding answers on value, one is Antiques and The Arts Online a forum for bloggers.  However, if the item is not terribly expensive, you just may want to take a chance–sometimes hunches, preferably educated hunches pay off.

Recently, two drawings were put up for bid at an online auction site.  They were listed as two antique etchings, one of Shakespeare’s house and one of Ann Hathaway’s Cottage signed by C. Dickens.  The description was as follows:

1st etching is titled: Shakespeare House and 2nd etching is titled: Ann Hathaway’s Cottage. Both are titled and signed below the art piece above the matting. The sticker on the back indicated these are original etching by C. Dickens. There is no pixilation and when looking closely the lines appear to be raised. They were received in a wooden frame with glass over it. The frame measures: 9 ½” x 12 ½” and the art itself measures: 5 ¼” x 3 ½”. The matting has yellowed, the frames finish is worn, the paper backing on both frames are torn and appear to be delicate.

The starting bid was $5.99.  Take a look at these etchings, what would you bid for two etchings possibly by Charles Dickens?

Etchings C.Dickens

Check Back This Week at this post to see what The Final Bid was and whether it was a Deal Or No Deal.

Final Bid: The winning bid was $601.00 plus $40.44 sh, 41 online bids at  It is difficult to determine whether or not this is a deal since an object such as this should be inspected in person; however, having said that with a cursory investigation online although Charles Dickens was not known as an artist, he did direct artists and had input into the drawings for his serial novels.  It is up to the individual to determine if the amount risked here was justified .

10 Points To ConsiderTo Buy Or Not To Buy Cars On Craigslist

Craigslist is a source of many deals including cars, but when shopping for a newer car always remember buyer beware:

  • DEALS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Some deals that a buyer thinks are local are really scams especially when they ask for money up front.  These scams will often provide only an email and will involve the “shipping” of a car.  DO NOT SEND OR PUT UP MONEY SIGHT UNSEEN.
  • LOCAL DEALERS MAY OFFER GREAT DEALS; However when you go to see the car–oops! It was sold two days ago, and they forgot to remove listing.  This is a bait and many times if you phone them or email them ahead of time, they do not answer.
  • LEADER CARS.  Often dealers who are using Craigslist more and more have “leader cars” to bring you to their lot.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, just make sure it’s there and hasn’t been sold already.
  • MAKE SURE TITLE IS CLEAR.  This is important no matter where or from you, you buy the car.  Titles can be impaired because the car was in an accident.  A dealer should be upfront with you about this because it affects the value of the car.
  • GET VIN NUMBER BEFORE BUYING. This will enable you to research the history of the vehicle.  It’s important to do this even if car is listed by the owner because he/she could be second or third owner of the vehicle.
  • BY OWNER” MAY BE IN BUSINESS.  Many people are going to car auctions and they are not always large enterprises, some may buy 1-3 cars and fix them up themselves for resale.  Many small lots and individual dealers are picking up hurricane vehicles, etc.  Just because vehicle is listed as being sold by “owner,” doesn’t mean they were the original owner.
  • ASK IF EVERYTHING ON VEHICLE IS “ORIGINAL.” If repairs have been made, ask to see what they were and when.  Also, when dealing with the seller, ask them if you can have your mechanic go over the vehicle prior to purchase.  If not, walk away.
  • MAKE SURE YOU DRIVE VEHICLE PRIOR TO BUYING. Be wary when owner posts vehicle and shows it, but says that the car is out-of-gas and he/she has to fill it up, so you can’t drive it that day.  This really happened!  Can you imagine posting a vehicle and not having it ready to be driven?
  • KNOW THE DEALER & GET INFORMATION. Ask friends, family, and even other dealers if they know whether or not the person you are dealing with is reputable.  You would be surprised how other dealers not only know what their competition is like, but also know history of  individual cars being sold in their target areas.
  • SEE A GOOD DEAL, ACT ON IT IMMEDIATELY, some deals can be had from Craigslist and you have to act quickly; however, this does not mean you forego all of the steps listed above.


Tip Of The Week #56 Bad Gift? How To Exchange, or Sell The Mistakes of Christmas Past!

Well, the holidays are over and Santa has fulfilled all our wishes–maybe not.  What to do with those gifts, well, how can we say it?  Those gifts that just weren’t your style–okay, that sounds good.  Or how about those gift cards from stores you seldom or ever visit?  What to do?  Do you toss the gift or gift card back to the giver and tell them, “Thanks, but no thanks!”  or “How could you?  Don’t you know anything about my tastes by now?”  Bad form.  Or do you ponder who you can regift these less than stellar gifts to?  Well, Markdown Mom has a few suggestions:

  • Ebay®Plus:  Many items no longer needed or wanted by their owners find their way onto this auction site.  Not a bad idea.  Potential Downside: you will give a cut to Ebay, and it involves setting up an account, etc.  It is an auction site.
  • Craigslist.  Plus:  No middle person, potentially faster sale since you can sell it to a local party, reaches a wider market than waiting to hold a yard sale to sell your gift.  Potential Downside: you will have to  be responsive to the inquiries about the item either through emails and/or phone calls and there can be crank calls, etc.
  • Bad Gift Emporium.  Really bad gifts go here to hopefully find a new home.  Photos of items are ranked by the site, listed by availability, and most recent offerings.  Plus: Can turn out to be a place to unload that gem.  Potential Downside:  More a place of commiseration, rather than a marketplace.  At least you will know you are not alone.
  • Gift Card Rescue.  Site dedicated to the sale of  or exchange of gift cards.  Plus:  If you can’t sell your gift card you can exchange it from their lists many times at a 35% savings.  Potential Downside:  As with any type of internet deal, depending on what option you choose, processing time may vary.
  • Swaptree.  Trade books, dvds, music, or videos for free.  Plus:  site takes the guess work out of sending your item in for exchange by printing label online. Potential Downside:  Not completely free, you will pay for shipping.

What's Old Is New Again #2!

A bygone frontier era included a self-sufficiency seldom experienced in our present mechanized society.  However, either because of a desire to become green or a desire to create our own homemade gourmet products, a demand for the manual machines of yesteryear has increased. 

Markdown Mom has been watching auction sites, thrift stores, and antique stores and one item that goes for a hefty price , no matter the condition, is a hand butter churner. 

Now, the butter churner has been reproduced at QVC.  The Paderno World Cuisine Butter Maker has the same mechanism updated and made out of metal rather than wood.  Simple to use, just add cream and you can have your own delicious butter.  With additional ingredients such as herbs, you can give your guests and family a gourmet treat–a potential addition to homemade gifts.   QVC offers this at $109.97+sh.  Made in Italy.

Going, Going, Gone! This Auction Is So Good, It's Almost Criminal!

Ever wonder what becomes of all those stolen items retrieved by the police such as the bling purchased by drug dealers?  Well, after prosecution of these criminals, some  of the items are released for sale to the general public.  Usually this is done by local and state officials like the local police or your state’s department of transportation.  The money from the sales usually go back into the agency’s budget.  In large metropolitan areas, bargain hunters have had a tremendous advantage at obtaining some real deals on merchandise ranging from diamond jewelry, cars, to computers.

Now, the internet provides an opportunity for everyone to get in on these deals.  At the Property Room.Com you can bid on these hot, hot items.

The “Loot” ranges from cars like this Lexus to Collectible Coins to KitchenAid Mixers. This auction site gives the bidder the advantage of knowing the value of what he or she is bidding on because everything has been appraised by a professional.

However, as with most auctions, large items are available for pick-up only.  Just like other not-for-profit auctions, part of the proceeds are returned to law enforcement agencies to support the good guys.

A great way to get a good deal and to feel good at the same time by supporting those who keep us safe!

What's Old Is New Again!

The retro look has been popular for several years now in home decorating.  I’m old enough to remember a chenille bedspread on my bed that had a dancing ballerina.  Chenille bedspreads are a great summer look for any bedroom.  Although the more intricate colored patterns are more collectible, I like the plain one color versions for elegance and simplicity in a room.  Now the DIY decorator has options for getting this look.

Ebay®. Ebay has a diverse selection of vintage chenille bedspreads. You can get some real bargains, but again you have to savvy and quick in your bidding.  Don’t forget to look at chenille material for making coordinated pillows or lampshades.
The Vermont Country Store® sells reproductions of vintage chenille bedspreads ranging in price and according to size from $69.95 up.
Nancy’s Notions® carries the notions to make your own chenille quilts,apparel,  and accessories.  You can create your own original to be cherished as a keepsake for years to come.

Hot Look For A Cool Summer!

Craigslist Sellers: Learn the 10 Tips Insiders Say Will Double Your Sales

Although Markdown Mom is relatively a new fan of Craigslist, having not had this service available in her area until recently, nonetheless there are a few insights she has garnered from using this service.

  • A great site for selling items locally or statewide. This allows for flexibility in your customer base. Oftentimes, smaller cities or towns do not have the pool of customers to get the response you want. Depending on the size of your state, a seller can list an item(s) locally or in the nearest largest city that can increase the amount of money realized from its sale.
  • As a seller you must be prepared to answer phone calls or emails, this can produce a deluge of inquiries depending upon the popularity of the item and the asking price. Unlike Ebay, this will take up your time and most, not all, inquiries may not be productive, and even with more serious inquiries, “no shows.” Remember there is no buffer between the seller and buyer, these are one-to-one deals. To limit the number of calls, be sure to give as much description as possible.
  • As a buyer, if you are looking for a specific item you can either list a “wanted item” in the category that item would be placed or in the “Wanted” category on Craigslist. Markdown Mom recommends doing both.
  • Check items for sale once a day and if interested respond quickly, time is of the essence, if you really want to get to the bargain before others. Craigslist for the bargain hunter is much like attending an estate sale or a good garage or yard sale, the early bird catches the worm.
  • If you are a seller, list everything like size, be specific and if necessary take measurements, condition, flaws especially if you don’t provide a photo–you can never give the buyer too much information. Include your email or phone number (times available to take calls). Markdown Mom prefers email since it allows seller more control as to his/her time allocation to this endeavor.
  • PROVIDE PHOTOS. Although you can still try to sell item without it, a picture as they say is worth a thousand words especially since you are competing with auction sites, online sellers, all of whom provide photos. Don’t have a digital camera? Ask a friend, remember sites like Craigslist are taking the place of Ebay online stores that use to do this for you at a percentage of the sale.
  • Seller be sure to specify means of payment, cash and money orders preferable, local checks with ID is up to you.
  • Find an item that you wanted, but missed out on? Don’t hesitate to inquire on Craiglist as to possibly of purchasing it from the party that bought it off of Craigslist. You won’t get the bargain he/she did, but if you really want it you can negotiate the price provided that buyer is open to reselling. Some bargains are picked up by dealers with the sole intention of reselling. Since you know what they bought it for you know where to start the bidding price, but allow for a decent profit. Unless this is one of a kind, expect that the most to pay for it is 2½ times what they paid.
  • This is also a good place to find FREE items, or to list items for FREE. Sometimes the owner just wants to get rid of the item for a number of reasons: downsizing, redecorating, or declutter. FREE does not always mean junk. If you are handy at refinishing, repairing, reupholstering, or trying to help out a friend who is in need, don’t pass this by.
  • Make sure that you can get the item home. Some sellers will offer to deliver for an extra fee and Craigslist does list fee-based delivery sources in your area. If you live in a small town and have a friend or relative in the city where you find an item you’ve been looking for ages for, see if they will act as your proxy and check it out, pick it up for you, or store it for you until you can retrieve it. Don’t have them store it for very long as this is one sure way to lose a friend or tick off that family member.
  • When you sell the item, REMOVE THE LISTING FROM CRAIGSLIST IMMEDIATELY. If you haven’t sold it, consider looking at the price you are asking, lower it and relist. A decent item should only need to be advertised twice at the most, so be sure to look hard at the price you want, compare it to others being sold, and initially price the item right. A fair price is not necessarily the amount of money you currently need to get, but what the market will bear.

Related Blogs

  • Related Blogs on Online Auctions

Charity Silent Auctions Go Mainstream

Silent auctions for a number of years have been a staple of charity fundraisers.  Less raucous than the give and take of real auctions, nonetheless they provide an additional source of raising money for charities and other worthy causes.  These auctions have been coupled with charity events such as wine tasting, chef prepared samplers, dinners for special causes, to name a few.  The tax incentives usually include the price of the event’s ticket and the silent auction prize minus the value $$$ of each. 

Now some thrift stores have caught on to this fundraising vehicle by conducting their own in-store silent auctions.  Usually thrift store donations for auction include the more expensive donations the organization has received. 

For instance, on a recent visit, MDM found a copy of a Jackson Pollock print matted and framed, a animated cell from a motion picture studio, a TIVO® NIB and other various electronics, and more. 

How does the thrift store silent auction work?


  1. Each store has the bidder fill out a registration card, that is only good at that location, with an assigned number. 
  2. The items up for bid are usually showcased in a locked glass cabinet with an assigned number
  3. Once registered, the bidder then can make a bid for the item by logging it onto the item’s sheet in a designated 3 ring binder, and listing  his/her assigned bidder number and bid amount. The bidding sheet includes a description of the auction item, opening bid amount and bidding increments, its’ opening and closing date–usually a one week period. 
  4. It’s important to check back often especially on the last day of bidding.  Bidders need not be present since the registration card includes address and phone number of the bidder in order to be contacted by the thrift store.
  5.  All tax incentives of a charity event silent auction apply to thrift store silent auctions.  Usually the bidder will be looking to get the item at a bargain price; however, in the case of antiques or collectibles, that price can exceed fair market value depending upon the rarity of the item, and any amount above that can be deducted as a contribution.  Likewise, donating items for thrift store sale or auction is tax deductible.
Another way to go green and find a bargain at the same time!

Auto Auctions Every Thursday at 9 A.M.

GoodwillMarkdownmom’s Twin Cities tour has begun.   Today MDM visited the Easter Seals Goodwill store located in St. Paul, MN..  This thrift store is one of the contributors to the shopgoodwill auction site.  Expansive with a large inventory of clothing, many racks are reduced on Thursday by 50 percent.  Although MDM does not recommend thrift stores as a source of auto auctions, nevertheless if you have strong mechanic skills or know an expert mechanic you might want to check out their offerings every Thursday at 9 a.m..  To preview this weekly’s silent car auctions, log on at Goodwill Easter Seals.  If you would like to donate your car, this store offers free metro pick-up. 

MDM found china and glassware a bit expensive for a thrift store and there were not displays of antique items, possiblygoodwill because of this store’s connection with the national auction site.  However, there were some deals on home appliances such as a BreadMan bread machine NIB for under fifty dollars and a medium cuisinart only missing its feeding tube for under five dollars.  Also, selected designer items, electronics, tools, and antiques are held under glass to bid on in a silent auction.  The Easter Seals store also has a large book and record collection.  College students can find some inexpensive furniture pieces and art work for their apartments or dorm rooms. 

Special tag sales on Monday and Tuesday at these stores, and if you are 55 or older Wednesdays offer senior discounts of an extra 25% off. 

Open 9-9 weekdays.  Handicapped accessible.

Wednesday Steals

There are extra savings at JCPenney Outlet.  Save 30%-70% and get free shipping on purchases of $99 today.  Enter "yes" on "discounts" of the shopping page.  Get any extra savings by putting Promo Code:WPMAYFS, discount if applicable will appear on summary page at final checkout. 

And while you are at it, check out their Wednesday Deals like this prom or special occasion halter dress in popular runway navy, sizes 4-16, Reg.$120/sale$39.99!

For all your favorite gourmet cooks, have them dress the part with a professional chef’s coat, reg. $52.90/sale $15.35 at Shop At

Or if your gourmet cook only wants tools like Martha uses check the sales at Chefs Catalog such as this french straight rolling pin, Reg.$13/sale $9.99.

Shop NBC has free shipping on all clearance items this includes up to 70% off  items.  Also, if you are into auctions try Shop NBC Auction especially in the ShopNBC Listings since these items do not have "reserves," and you can get some really hot deals on jewelry, etc.