The US Army dirigible RS-1 at Scott Field in Illinois.
ATLANTA – I wandered off to the Scott Antiques Markets in Atlanta (Scott is a show that that runs monthly shows in Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio). The show in Atlanta is larger and is run on the second weekend of the month. I would guess that the Atlanta show has more than 1,000 dealers.
I like going to markets that are focused on antiques and that encourage sellers who are actual house pickers. These types of sellers get you closer to the source of material, and their items are usually fresh to the market and unique in nature. While Scott cannot quite compete with a good, old-fashioned New England flea market, it does a very good job in keeping the junk dealers out of the show and segregates the more sophisticated, high-end dealers in the North Building and the more casual dealers in the Southern Building. I immediately head for the southern building, as that is where I typically make the discoveries.
A pilot from an observation squadron stationed in Long Island, N.Y.
I had gone to my first Scott show several months ago with a friend who got me off my duff one Sunday. I actually came back from the show with a prized cabinet photo of Gen. George Custer’s 7th Calvary officers and wives on the porch of Fort Lincoln, taken a little more than a year before their ill-fated fight with the Sioux at the Little Big Horn (there is a similar photo on www.Mandanhistory.org). True to my above point, I found this photograph in the South building with a part-time dealer who was selling the photo for a neighbor of his. I found some other neat items there, including a 19th-century US Army regimental flag that will require further research when I find the time.
So, I went back this month with the anticipation of some more great finds. I immediately headed for the southern building, as I decided that was where I wanted to spend the two hours that I had allotted for this visit. I paid my $5 for parking, which also covered admissions for both buildings for the multi day event, parked and headed in. I immediately placed a phone call to a dealer I knew who was setting up there and needed his location, as this place is just so big I’d never find him. He gave me his coordinates and I was off.
The first thing that grabbed my eye was a book of WWII German aeronautical maps. This was an unusual find. Not that I have customers lining up for these, but I figured I might if I advertised them. They were large—at about two feet by three feet—and were neatly folded and numbered in the original notebook that they had been liberated from. These were Luftwaffe maps and covered many major European cities. I could only imagine their use by a German WWII pilot. These were an immediate buy for me, as they only cost about $6 a map (there were 80 of them); I figured if I could not sell them, I would use it as an excuse to pay for a trip to Europe to see if I could use them to travel to major cities. I also grabbed a flight log of a WWII military officer who had flown many flights connected to the test dropping of the atomic bombs on the Bikini Atolls in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This log is another future research project that I will eventually get to, but some of the items in the book and signatures speak to its importance. Additionally, ephemera and historical items involving the development of the atomic bomb are always good sellers.
A “Land Battleship” tank at Fort Benning, Ga.
Once I was ready to check out, my friend introduced me to a dealer in the next booth by the name of Gordon. Gordon is what I refer to as a “house picker.” He is generally the first person to get into a house and buys up whatever a family is willing to part with to earn extra cash. Thus, Gordon is a good source for new things to the market. Gordon’s philosophy is buy good things and to turn his inventory over quickly; a “wholesaler” and someone who I enjoyed meeting.
What immediately caught my eye were two scrapbooks of 1920s US army photos. Normally, photos “between wars” are not very exciting, and do not sell well. But these photos were in a league of their own, as they taken by someone with a good eye for a picture and subject. They contained about 400 photos of the army’s early ballooning and flight efforts at Scott Field, outside of Chicago, and then in Forts Bragg and Benning. The soldier/photographer had a great eye for detail and subject, and appeared to also have been an aviator. The batch was a gem, but I did not want to let on to much with Gordon about my enthusiasm. We were finally able to negotiate a price for them and I have included some of the remarkable photos in this article. The photographer’s eye also caught some of the less obvious detail around the base by even recording the various bases’ canine mascots. He also meticulously documented the subjects and dates on the back with typed notes containing various pertinent bits of information. While this purchase ran into the four figures, selling this type of content quickly and making a profit will be a rather easy thing to do, thanks to the soldier’s attentiveness to subject and detail.
The dirigible “sign post” outside the barracks for the Second Balloon Group at Fort Bragg, N.C.
A kite balloon in practice at Fort Bragg.
As usual, the best is saved for last. The last item we bought, also from Gordon, was a small 19th-century chest that was folk-art painted with blue with a gold horn of Gabriel on top that resembled a Civil War Union soldier’s infantry cap insignia. This in itself was an unusual find in Dixieland. Gordon explained to me that this was a trunk that he had pulled out of a house in southern Georgia from an African-American family and the trunk was full of early African-American Masonic gear from the little known fraternal mason group called the Heroines of Jeherico, which turned out to be the African-American equivalent of the Order of the Eastern Star. (African American’s in the 19th century had their own branch of Masons called the Royal Arch Masons.)
I found this as an intriguing find, and quickly negotiated a purchase with Gordon, and my partner-in-crime for the day—my son Jacob—loaded up and headed home. I will say that the Masonic gear bought that day, and the story of the African American Heroines of Jericho, are worthy of a future WorthPoint article, as information of that organization is very scarce.
Will Seippel is the president and CEO of WorthPoint. Will has been an avid collector since 1974 and dealer of just about all things—with a emphasis on ephemera—antique since 1984.
WorthPoint—Discover Your Hidden Wealth
Join WorthPoint on Twitter and Facebook.