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The Overton Sash Stop

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

If you are a doorknob collector, or an antiques dealer, when you go shopping — You Go Shopping.

You have a plan, you have a purpose, and you have your own methods and strategies. Most importantly, you have a rhythm and a time factor that only works for you. Anyone else, even your best friend

or your spouse, can’t really “tag along” as they either are quickly shut out of your energy field, or if they are a kindred spirit, they will be shopping to the rhythm of their own antiques drummer.

How We Shop

The is very true for Jill and I-when we enter a shop or market we almost always head in opposite directions. One, because we can cover the territory faster, but more importantly, because we shop very differently. In fact, even if we start out together, within a few minutes we have become separated due to the pace our eyes set for us, and our varied interests. But we both keep mental notes on what we are seeing and as we cross paths between booths and showcases we share what we have found to buy—and what we have seen that we need to consider together.

Quite often what one of us has put into our mental inventory is something the other has noticed as well. Then we stand in front of the object and have a critical conversation on authenticity, condition, salability, profitability, and finally price. If we agree on all those factors, it usually means a buy. Dissention on any aspect of that assessment almost always means rejection.

We were in Texas somewhere last Spring, picking our way from the Round Top show to Colorado, when we went into a quality shop in a small town. Everything was authentic and interesting but we found nothing we could buy. The proprietor was friendly, and we mentioned our principle interests of vintage plumbing and antique hardware.

Finding A Treasure Now this shop was packed–easily many thousand items–all well displayed but mostly very formal and fancy. Now, we are pretty good pickers, being as we make our living at this, and so when the guy said “did you see those things in the showcase” I was a bit chagrined to answer “No, whaddya have?”

The owner then opened a flat case sitting on the table in the middle of the room and pulled out a pair of fascinating figural cast iron window sash stops. How he remembered where they were hiding is a testament to the mind of a real antiques dealer, but these were surely something special.

My first reaction was 1) I am going to buy these and 2) this guy can’t have much of a value reference here so even though he’s running a pricy operation, these ought to still be under the money.

So I asked “ how much”, and his answer floored me.

Now, I can’t divulge the number because I am putting one of these little beauties in our New Year’ Day 2020 Auction, but I was gobsmacked. I keep up a polite conversation, turning the little fellows over in my trying to politely negotiate, but when I asked “so what’s the price if I buy them both?” he came back with a number that was all of $20 less.

At that point I set them down saying “they are great but just too ex- pensive.” And then Jill spoke up and said, “Hey, you’re the doorknob man, you have to buy them!”

I said “Hey, no way I can make profit here. I love ‘em but there is no advancement.” So Jill said “Well OK then, I will buy them’”, and she pulled out the cash and passed it over.

Its Only Worth Something When It Sells

So New Year’s Day we’ll find out just who likes them better than we do. I say “we” as naturally I was glad to be a partner in the deal, or rather, have a partner with the kahones to do the deal. And that’s how shopping together works: teamwork and trust—and the fun of waiting for the payoff.

Follow Up From An Expert

Paul Woodfin, former Editor of The Doorknob Collector found Design Patent #9896 by Thomas Overton dated April 10,1877. For a native Texan, seeing a Design patent by someone from Rockport, Texas (which is midway along the Texas Gulf Coast, just north of Corpus Christi) was very unexpected, as most design patents I have seen were from the northern and eastern states where manufacturing occurred. While I could find no information about Mr. Overton other than his birth and death information, this shows that even in Texas in 1877 people were wanting something other than plain window stops. The patent was not assigned to anyone, but some obviously were manufactured possibly in Texas since Web was able to find a pair here.

End of the Story

Tweedle Dum (or was it Tweedle Dee?) went up for bids in the auction with the result of No Bids. The opening bid, including the 20% buyers premium was a bit more that what I (Jill) had paid, but goes to show my initial thoughts on resale value were correct.

However, post sale, I did sell both for that initial bid price, so I moved them along and made a few bucks. The final takeaway is that it was well worth the effort to find, buy--and then resell--something very special, as that is the essence of the antique buisnes


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