Antiques dealers can make good money recognizing valuable objects that have been overlooked. That’s why flea market tables and auction previews are scrutinized so thoroughly.
Officials in Muskegon, Michigan, failed to realize that furniture from the Hackley Public Library—a stately Richardsonian Romanesque-style building of Maine granite and Marquette sandstone erected in 1890—had more value than just as used furniture. They sold the furniture at auction in one lot—for $3500.
How much stuff was in the one lot? According to the buyer, antiques dealer Sharon Fisk of Wild Flower Refinishers & Antiques Shop, Whitehall, Michigan, it took two 26’ U-Haul trucks and four people an entire day to move it all. Included were almost 20 leather and oak chairs with crests engraved “HPL,” love seats, card catalogs, upholstered chairs, and tables. She told the Michigan Chronicle that the “HPL” chairs have “flown” out of her shop.
The furniture was considered excess by the library, which turned it over to the Muskegon Public Schools. The school system owns the library building and arranged the sale. Superintendent Jon Felske defended the transaction, telling the Michigan Chronicle that he isn’t in the furnitureselling business. There are people in the “furniture-selling business”—professionals including auctioneers, dealers, appraisers, and tag sales experts—who might have been able to realize a better return for the town of Muskegon.
Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest