Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Art...I Don't Want to Do This!

 

Have I mentioned how much I hate selling art? I haven’t actually listed or sold any yet but the windup to get ready for the job is driving me crazy. The windup includes watching online videos on how to pack big things but the biggest problem is getting the material needed to ship them---glassine paper, corner protectors (for the framed art in the house), large sheets of cardboard or core-board for the unframed stuff and extra wide bubble wrap. I’m still looking for egg crate foam for the framed stuff. Not the typical shipping supplies that I’ve kept on hand these past few years. If my husband was alive I’d be chewing his head off about now because he’s the one that put me in this situation. How? He loved the western artists especially James Bama, Wayne Cooper and Gordon Snidow and every year when he’d go out West elk hunting he’d come home with a new, signed and numbered print. We ran out of walls to frame and hang the stuff but that didn’t slow down his obsession and fast forward to now when I’ve got a 31” x 41 ½” faux leather zipper case full of 14 unframed prints to measure, research, photograph, write up, prepare for shipping and finally list.

Some guys bring shot glasses and bed bugs home from vacation. I suppose I should be grateful Don had better taste in souvenirs and he spent his nights camping in the mountains---or that he came home at all. One time out West he stretched out on a large, flat rock to take a nap and woke up with a rattlesnake curled up on his tummy. His hunting buddy took a photo or I would have thought they were telling a tall tale which has always begged the question: Who takes the time to photograph a thing like that? His buddy said he thought about killing the snake with his hand gun while the two of them slept---holy crap!---but he decided against it because his aim wasn’t that good. The Cliff Notes version of the story is it took long stick and a very nervous Don who had to stay as still as a fence post to end it.

Back on topic: Another problem I’m having with gearing up to sell prints is figuring out a starting a bid and a Buy-it-Now price. I’ve discovered that a lot of people trying to sell prints on e-Bay don’t know the difference between a poster quality print and a signed and numbered or artists proof prints. From what I’m seeing in the unsold section is that buyers do know the difference and that’s a good sign for me. I have never done Buy-it-Now sales on e-Bay until this month and I’ve been selling off and on e-Bay since 2000. I can’t believe I’ve never tried it before. Within an hour of listings fifteen things I had four things sell at my pie-in-sky price while their rock-bottom starting bids were passed over. One of those early sales was a folding wash basin, field gear from WWI. We have a leather donkey footstool (also turn-of-the-century) and that basin was what the donkey "drank" from. I love that old guy and will hate to see him go.

I have had great success selling a few big items on Facebook Market Place this past weekend. Levi’s antique fire hydrant that was in my dog pen and a large, four-sided glass showcase that was in our library and held the small collectibles I've been selling off. Both sold within 24 hours of me listing them. The fire hydrant, however drove me crazy or rather the people who contacted me about it did. Within an hour I had 32 people messaging me with offers. The first guy who set up an appointment to pick it up bellied out on me at the last minute because his wife “wouldn’t let him buy it.” In the meantime seven or eight guys kept checking back with me to see if the first guy who had the appointment took it. And way too many of the people who sent messages need to brush up on their communication skills. It’s like the old joke about the proper use of capital letters i.e. there’s a difference in meaning between “Help your Uncle Jack off his horse” and “help your uncle jack off his horse.” People would send messages like ‘20’ and that’s all. Took me a long time to figure out that meant, “Will you take $20?” Uh, No! It’s listed at $50 or BEST offer. The couple who ended up with it bought it for their dog to use instead of their their shrubs. They were super friendly and easy to talk with as they dug it out of the ground. Two antique fire equipment collectors offered $80 and $95 but they came late to the party. I think Levi would be happy that his fire hydrant is going to another canine. ©

A lady who collects tigers had been looking for a larger showcase than the one she's outgrown. She was thrilled with this one. While her crew was here to load it in a truck one of the guys bought the two animal skulls that I had de-cowboyed out of my living room last week. He got a good deal and I was happy I didn't have to list them on e-Bay. It felt good to be wheeling and dealing again.

This is hydrant that I just sold. It was made in Tennessee in the '50s and was used in Colorado where my husband bought it and 2 others. We rode all the way home with those hydrants on the floor of our motor home. One we sold right away for what we paid for all three. A smaller hydrant, early 1900s, was on display in our garage for years. It sold at the auction house last summer for over $200. I hated to see that one go. It had a lot of brass on it and was a real cutie. I don't know if it's true in other places but old fire station equipment has always been quick sales for us.

39 comments:

  1. It's frustrating. Some people just have to haggle and bargain and it becomes insulting. I had a woman try to bargain me down on a 25 cent item at a garage sale. Goodness.

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    1. I know! After my mom died (1983) we had a lot of her clothes in a garage sale and there was blouse with the original price tags on it. Can't remember how much but a quality garment. We had all clothing marked fifty cents each and she asked if I'd take a quarter for that blouse. I vowed I'd never sell clothes at a garage sale again. And I didn't until this year when I sold some Pendleton shirts on Market Place. I pulled the blouse off the rack and found someone to give it to who knew my mom.

      Another time a woman offered my husband fifty-cent for something he had marked 4-5 dollars and he broke the thing in half and said, "If that's all it's worth it can go in the trash." She was shocked and replied, "I was going to buy that!" Haggling and bargaining is one thing but some people really are insulting with their offers. If I'm buying I never haggle. I either think the price is something I'm willing to pay or I pass on it.

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  2. I really like Levi's fire hydrant and, I agree with you that Levi would be pleased to know it is going to another canine:)

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    1. I was worried I wouldn't be able to sell it when the buyers had to dig it out of the ground and leaving it here when the house is listed would have been a 50-50 chance someone would love it or hate it. Dogs sure love them, though.

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  3. Can your new place use art in some of the common areas? You would have to reach out to the company to find out who is decorating the place. Just a thought... Good luck!

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    1. Funny you should mention that. I had had the thought that I could sneak out to the hall just outside my door and hang 'Holy Eagle' and not say a word about how the it got there. But it's so big I can't lift it so that plan wouldn't work. LOL

      There was another Continuum Care place in town where I seriously thought about buying into just because of the art in the halls. A wealthy woman donated them all and they were museum quality original paintings. My art is all western themed and not exactly the kind of things decorators would pick for public places.

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    2. I am always amazed at the variety of things Don collected. He certainly wasn't locked into one type as the hydrants prove. You certainly have a full time job.

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    3. Not sure how it's going to feel without something to sell. LOL

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  4. Just a thought -- A friend has been selling off her late husband's collection of Civil War prints. Those that are unframed have been rolled into mailing tubes, about 6 inches in diameter. They do not crease and she had had success with this (except, no one seems to want Civil War prints anymore).

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    1. I tried rolling one for a 3" tube and ended up creasing it. I haven't seen any bigger tubes in my search but it's certainly worth still trying. The post office sells triangle ones that I need to try. People don't collect anything in the same numbers they used to. Young people are into spending their money of experiences, not stuff and older people like me are trying to downsize.

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  5. Could you give the art to a charity auction and take some sort of tax deduction for it? I've never done that but I've heard of people doing it. 🤷‍♀️

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    1. Actually, that's not a bad idea if I could find a charity auction in this pandemic age. I donated some stuff to a charity auction after my husband died and it was a lot less work. I will definitely keep my eyes open.

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  6. Have your heard of the Autry Museum of the American West (https://theautry.org/)? They may have a curator/expert who would be interested in some of it or have great advice on pricing and selling.

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    1. I've been to the Autry Museum. I have 5 prints that the Will Rogers Museum might like since he was the subject of them. If I run out of time that's a good possibility. What I'd really like is to connect with a gallery out west that deals in print and would buy a bunch at wholesale fro them to resale.

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    2. Well either museum might be able to give you suggestions and contacts for that. Good luck.

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  7. Lordy, that rattlesnake story!!! Makes me cringe to think about it. But I literally laughed out loud long and hard about your capitalization example. I'll be chuckling about that for a while.

    I just got back on eBay today to get rid of a few more things. I have nothing near what you're selling. You really have some interesting collectibles. Today I uploaded 8 pics (after successfully uploading 25+) and eBay said all of them were corrupt. Grrr. I took them all at the same time in the same location, so that makes no sense to me. I decided it was a sign to stop that project for the day.

    I love the idea of fire hydrant for Levi and it's wonderful that it went to another dog owner.

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    1. I really laughed at ALL the 'capitalization' examples I run into. I love them and that one is best. You may have noticed since we're Facebook buddies that I share a lot of memes from published authors and they have a lot of neat memes that have to do with punctuation.

      It always makes the experience better when something I've enjoyed (or in this case Levi enjoyed) shows the same enthusiasm for it that we had when we brought it home. Anyone who goes through the work of hauling one of those heavy hydrants home and works to dig the pipe down into the ground loves their dog. It's a two man job.

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  8. Despite the enormous amount of work, at least you have something to blog about! And you've recouped some of the money. If we had had the time, I would have donated more stuff to interested charities rather than Goodwill. Now I'm about the age and tax bracket where I can't even claim donations!

    You continue to amaze me with all your hard, time consuming work!

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    1. Goodwill is less than five miles away and right along the route I travel to just about every place I go regularly---the gas station, grocery store, bank---so it's the easiest place for me to donate and they give you slips for claiming on your income taxes.

      It does help for blog fodder but I think I'd still come up with something without downsizing stories. Part of the fun of writing is trying to find topics. Back before the pandemic blogging would push me out of the house to do stuff in the community just because I had a post to write and needed the simulation.

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  9. Love reading about your adventure of downsizing objects... especially as nearly every post shows a new object you've not mentioned before that was collected! And has a storyline...

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    1. My husband loved to tell stories about his treasures and one time a friend gave him a telescoping pointer as a joke so he could point to what he was talking about and he loved it. Collectors mostly do know great stories about how and where something came from and how it fits into history.

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  10. I sold vintage movie theater posters on eBay and the triangular mailers from the post office worked really well. They don't crush easily, except the one time one got run over by a postal service truck. At least that's what the buyer wanted me to believe so he could have a refund.

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    1. I have a couple of those but I haven't been able to try them yet as I'm waiting on the glassine paper to get here first...it protects print surfaces from sticking on itself when rolled. I have the original folders a lot of those prints came in and I'd have to separate those from the prints to roll them and I can't decide if that's a good thing to do or not. I kind of double anyone would expect that of prints that are over 50 years old.

      I've been lucky that I've only had the post office ruin one thing. Bummer when you have to doubt a buyers story.

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  11. Boy can I relate to this post. I have never tried to sell artwork larger than 12 x 16 because of all that fol-de-rol to protect it.

    Depending on size, you can use the free priority mail boxes used flat with the edges securely taped. One way to go for prints. If you can locate cardboard large enough (furniture stores?) two pieces sandwiched taped and addressed with 'DO NOT BEND' written in big letters will do the job too.

    How about selling as 'Pick Up Only' for framed pieces on eBay or Facebook Market Place? You probably have enough population around for that to work. Worth a try anyway!
    Have I lost my mind or have eBay fees gone up a LOT recently?? Seemed like it was about 13% for selling and PayPal, and last few sales it's been closer to 20%.

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    1. Pakmail sells picture boxes that are 36x6x42 for $10 and I can cut those to lay flat to sandwich prints in...and I need that large for half the prints. They barely fit in my car. I don't mind paying for good, clean cardboard to ship something fairly costly.

      I'm going to try some pick up only for some local artists including Paul Collins, an internationally famous artist. But I really doubt there is much market for western cowboy themed prints around here in Michigan, even though I live in an area with over a million people. Can't hurt to try and I will.

      I don't actually look too closely at what eBay and PayPal charge, but it has gone up recently. And the post office has raised their prices too. That's killing sales on smaller stuff.

      Paul Collins has an interesting way of working. He gets corporate sponsors to pay his living expenses for two years to live in places around the world (culture studies of the people). At the end of the two years the corporations get 10-12 original oil paintings. His oils are are as good as Old Masters and he's done kings and presidents. My 'Holy Eagle' lithograph was a study for a painting he did as a corporate series at Wounded Knee, living on an Indian Reservation. we've met him several times at art events and he's super nice. My husband and I were groupies of his. LOL

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  12. Gosh, I wouldn't know where to begin when it comes to selling and shipping art. You've come a long way and gotten a lot accomplished in preparation for your move. I wonder if there are frame shops in your area that would be willing to help you with wrapping/packing for shipping. Maybe it would be worth their fee, just to get it off your shoulders.

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    1. I got a price quote from PacMail to pack and ship a painting from Michigan to California and they wanted $400. You can lose all your profits if you make a mistake on shipping so I never estimate. I pack everything before I list an item. Frame shops, probably don't have the proper materials for shipping, they just paper wrap stuff customers are picking up.

      I've scheduled myself a week to deal with getting art ready to list and two months to sell it all. If I still have some left by May then I will donate.

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  13. I hear your frustration but it is worth it in the end well I hope it is

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    1. I think it will be. I just have to be patience and break it down in to small jobs.

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  14. I'm glad the fire hydrant story had a happy ending, but I sympathize with you for having all this work to do.

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    1. A lot of it's fun work. I just wish I'd done it all before buying into the complex where I'm moving. But then without that fire burning at my feet I had no insensitive to sell everything.

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  15. I don'tknow how you do it. The thought of all that packing and shipping makes me crazy, not to mention pricing. It's a full time job in itself. I really admire you for this. I have a feeling my one day clean out will be by taking all I can manage to fit and having an estate sale that will no doubt rip us off. That's SUPER hard work.

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    1. No one is doing estate sales around here right now or auctions because of Covid. I have to sell the house first to be able to complete the purchase of my new place so the option of taking all I can take and having an estate sale with the rest won't work for me. And you and I both have too much stuff to gamble on selling it all in a two day sale. Plus, the estate people really end up getting the best of the deal money wise.

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  16. Old Fire related and Transportation related is always Hot. The packing and shipping of Art would concern me too, I suck at wrapping even Christmas and Birthday presents! You put in the Work for resale so you are getting good prices for having done all that due diligence and finding the right Buyer, I commend you! Had I done that I could have gotten more for what I Purged before our Big Move, but I didn't put in the Time and Work necessary, since the self move overwhelmed me really. I made enough to more than pay for the move, so that was good and I don't miss anything I disposed of and the Buyers were delighted, so quite a few keep in touch to see if I'm hawking anything else from Home. *Winks*

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    1. I haven't listed too many things that can break until lately and I had a $340 cast metal lamp break in shipping due to my poor judgement in packing. I didn't think cast metal could break. I refunded in full including shipping and let him keep the glass globe that came with it. He was able to buy another Will Rogers lamp just like it that didn't have a globe so he made out great and left good feedback.

      I saved selling art until last because I'll need the garage to pack and it's just now starting to warm up so I can be out there without freezing to death.

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  17. What a life Don led. I can't wait to tell this one to H. The funniest part is that they took a photo. Hilarious.

    Love the hydrant. Levi would be happy.

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    1. He either took the photo to prove there was a snake in case he shot Don instead of the snake or they found a dead snake somehow and staged the whole thing for a story. I'm pretty sure it was the former but with those two guys the latter wouldn't have surprised me either.

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  18. I really hate selling stuff. I have been amazed at your skill with eBay and the like. If I had anything of real value I'd have to look into getting real money, but mostly I just donate what I don't want. I have a couple of pieces of furniture that I think are worth a bit, but I can't bring myself to do the research to figure out how to market them. So they will sit in the basement until my sons have to deal with them one day. LOL Most importantly---that rattlesnake story! OMG!

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    1. I really want the money out of selling stuff because in my next chapter of life I'll have no way to make extra spending money and will be living with a much tighter budget than I am now.

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