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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, April 21

Gapers Block

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Being an antiques dealer is like dealing drugs. The collectors are worse than junkies. I always get asked by them, "Did ya get some good stuff?" or "What ya got? What ya got?" God help you if they ever get your home phone number. I had a guy calling me every day for a month "Did you get any fountain pens?" I still wince when I hear that.

All of this makes you realize how much shows like The Antiques Roadshow and Ebay have changed the antiques business. It's getting harder and harder to find good stuff anymore.

Well, here's a couple of places you can go "score" this week.

Sunday, June 19th, 8am

Sandwich Antique Market
1401 Suydam Road
Sandwich, IL

Simply put, Sandwich is one of the best antique shows in the midwest. There's great antiques, good food and a well run show. The management actually inspects each seller's booth to make sure they're selling only antiques and collectibles. Unlike the Kane county antiques show, you won't find people selling socks and new merchandise at Sandwich. It's all antiques. It's also 60 miles outside of Chicago so it's an all day excursion. Try to make it early as the best stuff goes fast.

The best kept secret at Sandwich is in one of the buildings at the back of the market. There you'll find a group of nuns who sell homemade French style pastries. Everything they make is amazingly wonderful. And, well, they're French.

Tuesday, June 21, 10:30am

Randhurst Mall
Mount Prospect
Rand Road and Elmhurst Road

(Just a side note; The last time I ate at an Applebee's my aunt Judy was in town and insisted we go there. I wanted to run screaming. Those of you familiar with the movie "Office Space" know what I'm talking about. The only reason I mention this one is it looks like a fun auction.)

Now you can own your very own piece of Applebee's crapola. The contents of the restaurant are up for auction. They've got tons of signs and oddball wall hangers for sale. That means you can finally buy that frat house decor you've been longing for — or you can pick up a deep fryer or two. Bring a screwdriver or two, as you're expected to remove the items you buy yourself.


I'll try my best to answer any questions you have about antiques in Chicago. Here's one of the emails I received this week.

Hi Ron,

My father recently passed away and I have a houseful of antiques I need to sell. My brother and I are going to have an estate sale but we're thinking about sending off the better items to an auction. Can you give me some more information about putting items in an auction. We've never had to deal with anything like this before. The house is located in the Edison Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Thank You,
Edward P.

Auctions can be a real crap shoot. You can bring the best antiques in the world to an auction house that has a sterling reputation and end up selling your items for pennies on the dollar. On the other hand, you can bring something you feel is junk to a local auctioneer and end up getting thousands of dollars. One old saying in the auction biz is, "You never really know."

Before you bring something to an auction house, actually go to see one of their auctions in action. You'll get a better idea of what kinds of items they're selling and what kind of prices people are paying. Take this with a grain of salt though. One mistake people make is seeing something sell for big money and then putting the same kind of item in the next auction. Every auction is different. That Hoosier cabinet that sold for $800 last week might only bring $300 this week. It all depends on what kind of buyers show up.

Pick an auction house you feel comfortable with. Check their websites and the commission rate. Each auction house charges a different commission rate for selling your items. It's usually around 15 percent. Ask about other charges. Some auctions charge you a catalogue fee to have photos taken of your items. Some auctions also charge you a fee if your item does not sell. If none of your items sell you can actually end up owing the auction house money.

When you sell something at an auction it is categorized by a "lot number." This allows the auctioneer to keep track of each item. The higher the lot number on your item, the later in the auction it will be sold. Auctions usually run through about 100 items an hour. Say you put three items in an auction that starts at 6pm and your lot numbers are 303, 310 and 343. You can show up at 8:30 and be there in plenty of time to see your stuff get sold.

It's exciting to see something you brought in get auctioned off. What's really neat is when two people get in a bidding war and you're just standing there grinning ear to ear as they keep bidding higher and higher on your item. You're making money just by standing there.

The auction house will usually send you a check within 30 days of the sale. Some of the local ones will pay you the same week. Here's three of the best auction houses for consigning your items in Chicago:

Direct Auction Galleries
7232 N. Western

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers
122 N. Aberdeen

Susanin's Auctions
900 S. Clinton

If you have any questions about antiques and auctions in Chicago, please email me at ronbighappyfunhousecom. Feel free to send any pictures of your items and I'll try to give you prices for your goodies.

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About the Author(s)

Ron Slattery is a collector of interesting junk and other wonderment. You can visit him at and

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