Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 23

On this day in 2001, David Gruber, star of the reality tv series, "Junk Finders!" discovered an old general store in Causeyville, Mississippi, which was a treasure trove of collectables. The store, which first opened its doors in 1887, and was the first negro-owned business in the county, had fallen on hard times, as the town's population had dwindled to just a few families. Fifth generation store owner, Clevon Wattell, was being forced into bankruptcy, and liquidating the store's contents, including a collection of vintage tobacco advertisements in pristine condition. Gruber offered Mr. Wattell $50 for the entire lot, but was annoyed to have his offer refused. Tobacco-related items were highly collectable, and Gruber was determined to secure the collection of rare pieces, which he intended to sell at auction, so he raised his offer to $75. To Gruber's growing frustration, Wattell again refused, citing that his grandson's internet research had valued each of the 20 or so pieces of advertising art at no less than $350 a piece. Gruber conceded that, of course their would be a mark-up when he placed the pieces up for auction, but that his time and effort had a significant dollar value attached to them and that, at the end of the day, by paying his final offer of $300 for the lot, he would be left with barely a profit. It was clear to him that Wattell did not have an understanding of buying and selling, let alone market-driven pricing. To Gruber's consternation, Mr. Wattell refused the offer, and Gruber's TV crew was forced to scrap the footage, as it would be of no use to their show. 

Interestingly enough, while Clevon Wattell did not appear on Junk Finders!, he did appear, a few months later, on an episode of Antiques Road Show in which his collection of rare, vintage tobacco advertising art, in mint condition, was appraised at a value of $10,000. 

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