Consider the last two big-ticket items that have come to the fore in the press recently. First, there was the English lady who splurged ten-quid (about $15), in her local thrift store around thirty years ago on what she thought was a rather gaudy and over-the-top piece of costume jewelry - turns out she was right - it was over the top, to the tune of 26.27 carats. Experts now predict that the 19th century antique cushion-ring could fetch a record setting $650,000 at auction later next month.
On a much smaller scale, but still of considerable note, was the recent find by workers at the Mennonite thrift store in New Hamburg, Ontario of an original Maud Lewis painting. A Canadian east coast painter who rose from hardship and obscurity in the 1970's, eventually selling two of her paintings to former President Richard Nixon. Pre-auction estimates put the thrifting-find at $16,000, but it sold this past week for almost three-times that, reaching a final hammer price of $45,000 Canadian - a record price for a Lewis painting.
Just a few years ago, Ohio resident Zach Bodish, a thrift store enthusiast who could often be found wandering the aisles of the Volunteers of America charity store came across what he considered was a nice repo of a Picasso print for $14.00. "I thought maybe it could possibly be a poster for an exhibition, or at best a non-reproduction." But to his surprise, after doing a little due diligence and research on the internet, Bodish found out that it was actually a print for a 1958 show of Picasso’s ceramic work, and was numbered 6/100 with the phrase, “original print, signed proof” which was written in French. The Swann Auction Gallery in New York later confirmed the signature and print as authentic, giving the piece an estimated value of between $10,000 to $16,000.
Now, while not everyone is going to find a diamond in the rough or an original Picasso, what these stories do point out is that there are some awfully good finds out there for those that are willing to take a little time to look around and do their research. While the stories you may hear in the news are always going to be about the big-ticket items selling at auction, there are going to be far more tales you will never hear about, where items were bought for a pittance and quietly sold for thousands - earning one a far better return than most lottery tickets ever will.
So, the next time you're perusing the aisles of your local thrift - don't just give it the once over - but give it a second look too!
- A.I.A. Staff Writers