My Antique Finds – Victrola XVII and Civil War Colt

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You know that euphoric feeling you get when you land such a phenomenal deal that you almost feel guilty?

It’s a tough search and requires the patience of a Kindergarten teacher, but the results can be completely worth it.

Part One: The Victrola XVII
To be level, I probably spend a bit too much time pursuing garage sales, especially since I’ve taken an interest in antique remodeling. I’m the type of person that makes reckless last minute turns or backtracks to check out a mysterious hand-written ‘garage sale’ sign.

At a neighborhood garage sale about six months ago, I stumbled upon a Victrola XVII. I’d seen a few Victrola phonographs on Antique Roadshow and a couple of them seemed to pay off. It appeared to be in decent condition, save for a layer of dust so, of course, I had to have it.

I paid $50 for it and found a local antique appraisal shop online.

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The next day, the appraiser told me that it was a 1918 model Victrola XVII with all the original features: a bowed-out frame, hand carved trim, gold-plated hardware and a four-spring power motor. It had a few nicks and dings and was quite dirty, but had no serious or compromising issues below the surface level.

But, what really made this one special was that it was a walnut finish instead of the standard mahogany.

I put about $30 into cleaning it and treating it with products recommended to me by the appraiser. He gave me tips on how to find a buyer, and mentioned a customer that frequented the store and might be interested in my find. Once the phonograph was all cleaned up and ready to go, he helped me get it sold for $950.

What. A. Steal.

Part Two: The Handgun

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About a year ago, while helping my dad clean out a friend’s barn after he passed away, we stumbled across an old, rusty handgun. I know hardly anything about handguns and my dad’s no weapons buff either, but I thought it might be worth checking out. I checked around online until I found an antique gun collector in the Dallas Fort Worth area who either fixes them up and sells them online, or adds them to his personal collection.

My dad and I (I did not go see the gun collector all alone) went out a few days later and the appraiser told us that though it wasn’t in great condition, it was an 1851 model Civil War Colt Navy handgun. Apparently, guns of this model in mint condition can go for well over $1,500. Since ours needed some work, we managed to get $450 for it. Not a bad deal, considering we paid nothing for it.

So, my antique remodeling hunt so far has yielded two really profitable finds, along with a couple others that don’t make quite as much cash, but still spark that same feeling of euphoria!

To this day I sometimes think of that old Civil War handgun. I kind of wish I didn’t sell it, after all I probably could have had someone fix it up for me for cheap, making me the proud owner of a functional Civil War handgun. Oh well….I try not to dwell too much over it.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage.

When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city.

With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s.

The result will be a book with a video component.

We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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