Folks forced to sell cherished collections, heirlooms, keepsakes put up for sale to pay bills!
Edited on Sat Jan-03-09 08:24 PM by KoKo01
By Gabrielle Dunn, Globe Correspondent | January 3, 2009
A collector since she was 4, Janice Dumas, 49, of Revere, is selling her 300 Barbie dolls on eBay to pay medical bills.
As a child in foster care bouncing from home to home, from one caretaker parent to the next, David Mendes had one thing that he prized above all, one thing that he took with him when his life inevitably uprooted - a suitcase containing 5,000 meticulously kept sports cards, each in its own protective plastic sleeve.
"They're the only things I kept and all I had," he said. "It was just me and my cards."
Decades later, when Mendes had made a home in Lowell and had his own children, the cards became his legacy, of what he had lived through and of the life he had finally achieved. He pledged to his 4-year-old son, Adam, that one day they would be his.
But now he is breaking that promise. Laid off by a roofing company that is struggling in the flagging economy, 32-year-old Mendes has put the cards up for sale to pay rent and put food on the table. He hopes a collector will offer him several thousand dollars for the collection. He hasn't found the courage to tell his son.
"He'll say, 'Dada, let's look at the cards,' " Mendes said. "That's another thing that kills me. He knows about them. He knows they're his."
Mendes is but one of thousands across the country who, hit by the recession and with no savings to absorb the blow, are making torturous decisions to sell some of the only items they have that are both valuable and not essential for surviving day to day: collections, cherished mementos, or small inheritances handed from one generation to the next.
Pawn shops, dealers, and online markets say they have been deluged with goods, and with the heartrending stories of those forced to sell. Craigslist said the number of posts on its Boston collectibles section increased by 46 percent to 11,590 in the year since November 2007. In just two months last fall, listings on eBay's collectibles section rose an astounding 56 percent nationwide, officials for that site said.
The Boston Area Toy Collectors Club has noticed a sudden increase in calls from people looking for buyers of vintage toys, said Stephen Lanzilla, the club's founder. "These people call because they're panicked and don't know who to turn to, who to talk to," he said.
Some who are now selling are collectors, Lanzilla said, people drawn by nostalgia and "the victory of finding something you've been looking for," to sink what little money they have into esoterica that, over years, comes to represent emotional landmarks.
But now, he said, "they've hit a brick wall, and it can be awful painful to think, 'What have I been doing this past 20 years buying all these Barbies?' "
Janice Dumas's one-bedroom, white bungalow in Revere is cluttered with more than 300 of the iconic dolls. The self-described ultimate pack rat's home is also filled with random keepsakes, like her grandmother's 90-year-old electric organ and a library of old books and magazines.
But for Dumas, the plunging economy has caused a collection of another sort - her unpaid medical bills. The recession suffocated her ability to handle financial burdens imposed by the lupus she has struggled with since high school, her 2003 cervical cancer diagnosis, and an acrimonious divorce shortly thereafter. Things are so bad that for three days in November she went without running water because she could not afford a plumber.
So she is putting her dolls up for sale, trying to collect hundreds each for some from the 1960s and rarities, like a pregnant Barbie.
"I never thought it would come to this, but it's hard to make the bills now," Dumas said. "I'd like not to be living paycheck to paycheck and have that fear of not being able to pay the gas bill this month."
Once an occupational safety engineer making $60,000 a year, her $28,000 yearly income now consists of an alimony settlement and a monthly disability check. With insurance, her medical expenses total about $8,000 annually.
On the list of items to go are her books about Abraham Lincoln, who fascinated her as a girl.
"If I could just be ahead of the game on my bills for once," Dumas said, opening one of the books and reverently palming a page.
At Empire Loan, a pawnshop in downtown Boston, owner Michael Goldstein said his customer base has expanded to suburbanites looking to pawn family heirlooms.
"There's no question that they'd rather not part with what they're borrowing on," he said. "They're borrowing on things they find sentimental, but in a bad economy, they have to pawn or sell things they'd rather not."
Sue Jennson of Franklin posts three times a day on Craigslist to sell, among other treasures that have been in her family since the 1800s, a figurine of the baby Jesus that belonged to her grandmother and which she hopes will fetch more than $100.
"They're heirlooms that got passed down from my grandmother to my mother and then to me," she said. "It's so hard for me to even put this stuff on the computer."
Some who have felt forced to sell, like 79-year-old Charles Sullivan of Randolph, have ultimately balked, saying even the need for cash was not enough to overcome the emotional price. Sullivan got an appraisal on 200 toy trucks, some of which belonged to a son who died of cancer six years ago, but then he couldn't go through with a sale.
"They've been with me for 40 years, and I've thought about it and no matter what, I just can't part with them."
For many, though, there is no choice. Or the choice is between one kind of meaning and another. Mendes last month posted on Craigslist a second treasured memento, a drum set that was a gift from a foster mother who, Mendes said, was the only assigned caretaker to ever really take an interest in him.
"It cost $125, and I had a paper route, and she said if I saved up I could get the drums on layaway. But I was impatient and I wanted them now," he said. "The next morning she woke me and told me to go out to the car and help unload groceries, and in the car, there was the drum set. She bought it for me. After all that time, I'll never forget that."
The drum set sold almost immediately on Craigslist for $80, which Mendes used to pay for a Christmas tree for his children.
"No one did this for me so I have to do it for them."
2. And now some folks are learning another use for their collections.
In my life, I've sold several collections in times of need. I've never lost any money, and have made a good deal on most of them.
Just last year, I sold my collection of 18th and 19th century etiquette books, one book at a time, on ebay. I never paid more than $5 for any single book. Every one sold for more than $20, and one sold for $500. It was a good collection.
What good is a collection if it does not have some value?
but clever collectors rarely have that problem. It all depends on what one collects and how one acquires the collectables. Rabid collectors who acquire things willy nilly and at whatever the market price is will lose money. Clever collectors buy additions to their collections slowly and when they can be added at bargain prices. Such collectors usually do well when they sell.
23. Help us "book collectors out." What's the "hot market" for Used Books?
Edited on Sun Jan-04-09 10:38 PM by KoKo01
I have mostly Cook Books and some Vintage but not a lot. I don't see any BUZZ about collectibles out there. I feel we are still "Unwinding the Cheap Chinese Markets" for "lead laden chinaware and other goods" from Crate & Barrell where all my nieces and nephews want their wedding Gift Certificates to come from.
Just over the Holidays I followed a Grandma and Grand-Daughter around a "High Price Gifty Store" and the Grandaughter complained her mom had passed off her "silver collection to her and she had bad memories having to polish it all when she was a kid growing up...and she dreaded her mom passing it on to her." (Quote from young lovely gal following Grandma around and what SHE thought about her Mom's STUFF...in the silver area, anyway)
What's going on here? The "Collectibles of the Past" are the "DOGS OF TODAY?" What the Heck has ANY VALUE if SILVER from GRANDMA is to be "tossed out" these day?
32. Diamonds are NOT WORTH what people pay for them.
The DeBeers cartel has controlled the diamond supply from South America for many decades. They also started the ad campaigns which tell women that they MUST have a diamond engagement ring, or wedding ring.
Most engagement/wedding/anniversary rings are boring and unimaginative in design, as well.
Furthermore, there are other stones that are colored that I like much better.
I have 2 G.I.A. certificates, one in Diamond Grading and one in Colored Stone Grading.
I've read alot about DeBeers and the Diamond Cartel. I'm proud to say my wedding ring is a "hand made carved gold band with flowers and leaves...bought in Greenwich Village (circa 70's), NYC from a Jewish Goldsmith who was so proud of his work (I'm not Jewish) but never saw diamonds as a stone I wanted and didn't want a "traditional engagement ring" ...so I got a wonderful work of art...without all the fluff I've worn proudly, everywhere for more years than I want to say...
7. Godammit. More dreams broken because of goddamn medical bills. Hey Obama WE NEED HR 676!
Woman selling a lifetime's collection of dolls to PAY MEDICAL BILLS. Those dolls will probably bring enough to pay for maybe one or two X-rays in some fucking for-profit hospital. After all, the CEO has to make his bonus this year!
DAMN when is this nation going to wake up? These medical problems are a HUGE part of what has been dragging what's left of the ecomomy down!
Mendes sold his drum set for $80, which he used to pay for a Christmas tree Go ahead, call me the grinch, but a Christmas tree seems like a frivolous thing to spend money on when you're strapped for cash.
You can get free trees on Freecycle many times and I certainly would not get rid of something with intense emotional value to buy a cheap trinket. However, desperate people do desperate things and I am sure that is where Mendes was at.
I've been involved with several groups of collectors...one being old time radios. In the best of times, the market was a good investment as prices on rare units sold well, but for every good radio out there that fetched good money, there were a dozen poorly maintained ones that didn't bring much in return or even sold for less than the market price. A lot of the money being made were by active and well connected dealers and owners who had been in the market a long time. Those who thought they could come in for a quick profit or dump a large collection were always marked as suckers...and generally they were, usually making far less than they were hoping.
Many people I know who play on Ebay are in a world of hurt. The economy has all but closed up collectable markets as not only do these people need the money to pay bills, but so do the buyers as well. Many of the high rollers are the ones who took the biggest hits last year, the money they used to "play" with that no longer is out there.
It's sad to read people are having to liquidate heirlooms and other collections and more of an indictment with how messed up our healthcare system is that so many are faced with this dilema...or avoid medical care altogether cause they have nothing they can sell. Here's hoping big changes are just weeks away.
30. Kharma...what has VALUE these days? It's hard to know.
We have a lot of CHEAP CHINESE IMPORTS to work off. REAL VALUE...is going to have to wait until America works off it's cheap goods for awhile.
I know...it's amazing when "real stuff" has no value. But, if one is hooked up to an "I-Pod, I-Phone, Blackberry" and spending much time on the "Internets" how does one have time to think of anything else. Collectibles aren't important to how we interact in the NEW ECONOMY.
I suspect in some future time values might come back...but, we just aren't the same society we were 12 years ago when there was a generation that LOVED NOSTALGIA and LOOKING BACK!
These are OBAMA TIMES...it's about MOVING FORWARD...not "LOOKING BACK." Who needs "COLLECTIBLES" when one can get cheap deals on "leather works, electronics and clothing being given away.
21. We Had a Barbie Collector Get All of Her Dolls Stolen, Locally
The woman reportedly was moving into a new home, put her entire collection in dark plastic garbage bags to take them to a new place, and decided to stop at a local shopping mall on the way. She was there for 30 minutes and while she was inside, someone broke into her car and stole the dolls.
Maybe I'm a curmudgeon, but it strikes me as suspiciously stupid behavior.
34. I gave away a whole lot of stuff to thrift stores.
I moved into another house, and had TWO houses to clean out. The parents and grandparents never sold anything, never threw anything away, in the house I moved into. I think there were about five or six households' worth of stuff in it.
One of my friends told me to sell stuff on eBay. I don't have the patience for that and knew the market was bad. So I gave numerous boxes of clothes, fabric, sewing supplies, Depression glass, and assorted tchotchkes to thrift stores.
37. It's amazing that "Depression Glass" doesn't have value these days...
It was prized among collectibles about a decade ago.... And...as a sewer...I understand that no one "does that" anymore. We prefer to import "stuff" from young Malaysian and Chinese outlying protectorates that WallMart, etc. use as SLAVE LABORERS..
Who makes anything or sews. The fabric is too expensive (imported) and everyone would rather buy from Wally World or others.
But, then...maybe our homemade stuff just wasn't that good without the Designers and Marketers who got the "drift" of what kids wanted and could do it all based on slave labor. The "stuff" did look better and was more creative than what American Home Sewers could do to compete. But, then it wasn't about allowing us to "compete" in the end, ...was it?
41. Home tailors/seamstresses never had a chance against the 'marketeers'
Our stuff ~ home sewn wasn't good/fashionable enough compared to what those high priced long legged models were promoting.....
(please forget the fact that most americans are not long legged super model body-shaped, and we tailors/seamstresses are expected to alter clothes to fit.....even though any styles we 'create' are ignored/laughed at.
You know, I wonder how many families are being torn apart by the current economic malaise. Sure, folks are selling family heirlooms to pay bills, but how many of those families are coming apart with divorcing parents or parents losing jobs and children doing poorly in school or unable to finding meaningful employment? The value of family heirlooms, with their sentiment and memories, don't seem as "valuable" to keep when the family dissipates and dreams are lost...
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