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Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: An Insider's Look at the World of Flea Markets, Antiques, and Collecting
     

Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: An Insider's Look at the World of Flea Markets, Antiques, and Collecting

4.5 18
by Maureen Stanton
 

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One dealer's journey from the populist mayhem of flea markets to the rarefied realm of auctions reveals the rich, often outrageous subculture of antiques and collectibles.

Millions of Americans are drawn to antiques and flea-market culture, whether as participants or as viewers of the perennially popular Antiques Roadshow or the recent hit

Overview

One dealer's journey from the populist mayhem of flea markets to the rarefied realm of auctions reveals the rich, often outrageous subculture of antiques and collectibles.

Millions of Americans are drawn to antiques and flea-market culture, whether as participants or as viewers of the perennially popular Antiques Roadshow or the recent hit American Pickers. This world has the air of a lottery: a $20 purchase might net you four, five, or six figures. Master dealer Curt Avery, the unlikely star of Killer Stuff and Tons of Money, plays that lottery every day, and he wins it more than most. Occasionally he gets lucky, but more often, he draws on a deep knowledge of America's past and the odd, fascinating, and beautiful objects that have survived it.

Week in, week out, Avery trawls the flea and antiques circuit-buying, selling, and advising other dealers in his many areas of expertise, from furniture to glass to stoneware, and more. On the surface, he's an improbable candidate for an antiques dealer. He wrestled in high school and still retains the pugilistic build; he is gruff, funny, and profane; he favors shorts and sneakers, even in November; and he is remarkably generous toward both competitors and customers who want a break.

But as he struggles for a spot in a high-end Boston show, he must step up his game and, perhaps more challenging, fit in with a white-shoe crowd. Through his ascent, we see the flea-osphere for what it truly is-less a lottery than a contact sport with few rules and many pitfalls. This rich and sometimes hilarious subculture rewards peculiar interests and outright obsessions-one dealer specializes in shrunken heads; another wants all the postal memorabilia he can get. So Avery must be a guerrilla historian and use his hard-earned knowledge of America's past to live by and off his wits. Only the smartest survive in one of America's most ruthless meritocracies.

Killer Stuff and Tons of Money is many things: an insider's look at a subculture replete with arcane traditions and high drama, an inspiring account of a self-made man making his way in a cutthroat field, a treasure trove of tips for those who seek out old things themselves, and a thoroughly fresh, vibrant view of history as blood sport.

Editorial Reviews

The Wall Street Journal
"Ms. Stanton captures the lower and middle echelons of the business with great skill, and her diverting and wholly unpretentious book makes a fine companion for a day at the beach—or a weekend spent treasure hunting at Brimfield."
Parade

"An intoxicating read that rips away the lace curtains from the antiques biz."
The Washington Post
"After whipping through Maureen Stanton’s utterly engaging, heavily researched account of her old college buddy’s life on the yard-sale flea-market antiques-show auction-house circuit, I wanted to invite myself into his multi-state universe and hang out with all those dealers… Not since Larry McMurtry’s fictitious rogue ‘Cadillac Jack’ has there been such a charming emissary from the world of the previously owned."
The New York Times
"Ms. Stanton has a light, sure touch…if you truly love the subject matter, you will truly love [Killer Stuff and Tons of Money]."
The Associated Press
"A fascinating look at the life of professional dealers who check out all the stuff at these shows before the rest of us even show up."
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Killer Stuff and Tons of Money is a deeply researched, memorably written narrative about the world of people who buy and sell antiques as their livelihoods...For anybody who treasures superb writing, this book will please page after page."
The Kenyon Review
"One of those books you’ll start early and won’t really be able to put down or shake till you’re finished…You should be reading this book. You should be purchasing this promptly and giving yourself the time and quiet and cool to sit and get through the whole thing."
The Portland Press Herald
"A fascinating look at Americans’ obsession with collecting stuff and searching the shelves of antiques markets for some kind of jackpot."
Bookpage
"Killer Stuff is a killer read. Enjoy it, then hop in the station wagon and see if you strike gold."
New England Antiques Journal
"Stanton does a great job of educating the reader, of weaving in the history behind both objects and shows and recognizable names…Start this book when you have lots of time, because you won’t want to put it down.”
Detroit News
"Fascinating…Anyone who has ever wondered what life would be like as an antique dealer should read this eye-opening account."
Antiques & Auction News
"Very well-written… a truly good education about the lonely and hard life of the single middle market dealer struggling to make ends meet…a must-read for everyone in the trade [and] a narrative that will appeal to many people."
Maine Antiques Digest
"[Stanton’s] book educates and entertains while giving an honest insider view of the trade."
Coastal Breeze News
"Full of interesting tidbits told in a fascinating way…I found this book hard to put down. [It is a nonfiction book so full of unbelievable stories you will think you are reading a novel."
Tom Ashbrook
"Maureen Stanton rips the lid off the whole business of antiques, hidden gems, dealers and auctions and the fevered American trade in objects of the past…Shaker furniture. Navajo rugs. Heirloom jewelry. Whale bone and weathervane. She takes us deep into the antiques biz."
Ellen Ruppel Shell
"Treasure seekers will find plenty in this penetrating and lyrical account of flea market culture.  From the provenance of the Ouija board, to where to find the greatest "steals" in antiques (and it’s not where you think) Killer Stuff and Tons of Money is chock full of wit, wisdom and surprises.  As Maureen Stanton's colorful protagonist puts it, "gold is where you find it," and this book hits the mother lode."
From the Publisher
"Ms. Stanton captures the lower and middle echelons of the business with great skill, and her diverting and wholly unpretentious book makes a fine companion for a day at the beach—or a weekend spent treasure hunting at Brimfield." — The Wall Street Journal

"An intoxicating read that rips away the lace curtains from the antiques biz." — Parade

"After whipping through Maureen Stanton’s utterly engaging, heavily researched account of her old college buddy’s life on the yard-sale flea-market antiques-show auction-house circuit, I wanted to invite myself into his multi-state universe and hang out with all those dealers… Not since Larry McMurtry’s fictitious rogue ‘Cadillac Jack’ has there been such a charming emissary from the world of the previously owned." — The Washington Post

"Ms. Stanton has a light, sure touch…if you truly love the subject matter, you will truly love [Killer Stuff and Tons of Money]." — The New York Times

"A fascinating look at the life of professional dealers who check out all the stuff at these shows before the rest of us even show up." — The Associated Press

"Maureen Stanton rips the lid off the whole business of antiques, hidden gems, dealers and auctions and the fevered American trade in objects of the past…Shaker furniture. Navajo rugs. Heirloom jewelry. Whale bone and weathervane. She takes us deep into the antiques biz." — Tom Ashbrook, on NPR’s “On Point”

"Killer Stuff and Tons of Money is a deeply researched, memorably written narrative about the world of people who buy and sell antiques as their livelihoods...For anybody who treasures superb writing, this book will please page after page." — The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"One of those books you’ll start early and won’t really be able to put down or shake till you’re finished…You should be reading this book. You should be purchasing this promptly and giving yourself the time and quiet and cool to sit and get through the whole thing." — The Kenyon Review

"A fascinating look at Americans’ obsession with collecting stuff and searching the shelves of antiques markets for some kind of jackpot." — The Portland Press Herald

"A treasure-trove of a book, especially for would-be antiquers." — Kirkus Reviews

"Killer Stuff is a killer read. Enjoy it, then hop in the station wagon and see if you strike gold." — Bookpage

"Stanton does a great job of educating the reader, of weaving in the history behind both objects and shows and recognizable names…Start this book when you have lots of time, because you won’t want to put it down.” — New England Antiques Journal

"Fascinating…Anyone who has ever wondered what life would be like as an antique dealer should read this eye-opening account." — Detroit News

"Very well-written… a truly good education about the lonely and hard life of the single middle market dealer struggling to make ends meet…a must-read for everyone in the trade [and] a narrative that will appeal to many people." — Antiques & Auction News

"[Stanton’s] book educates and entertains while giving an honest insider view of the trade." — Maine Antiques Digest

"Full of interesting tidbits told in a fascinating way…I found this book hard to put down. [It is a nonfiction book so full of unbelievable stories you will think you are reading a novel." — Coastal Breeze News

"Treasure seekers will find plenty in this penetrating and lyrical account of flea market culture.  From the provenance of the Ouija board, to where to find the greatest "steals" in antiques (and it’s not where you think) Killer Stuff and Tons of Money is chock full of wit, wisdom and surprises.  As Maureen Stanton's colorful protagonist puts it, "gold is where you find it," and this book hits the mother lode." — Ellen Ruppel Shell, author of CHEAP, THE HUNGRY GENE, A CHILD'S PLACE

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101516058
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/09/2011
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
1,080,883
File size:
571 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Maureen Stanton’s writing has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, The Florida Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Sun, and many other journals, as well as several anthologies including Best of The Sun, Best of Brevity, and Best Texas Writing.  Five of her essays were listed as “Notable Essays” in Best American Essays series. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Pushcart Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, the Iowa Review nonfiction award, and the American Literary Review nonfiction prize. She currently teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Missouri.

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Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too bad it squished my dreams of quitting my job and making a living buying and selling junk
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book it was an eye opener into the world of antiques fun read
Shanna Souels-Bethea More than 1 year ago
Hey I enjoy this book becuase it's interresting and it is the great book I ever read.
nanceNW More than 1 year ago
One might think you'd need to collect antiques, or love the culture of flea markets, in order to enjoy Maureen Stanton's Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America. Neither is true of me, and I devoured this book. I'm half-in-love with the book's central figure, an antiques dealer named Curt Avery who'll happily rise at 3:00 a.m. and drive ten hours in order to look at an original Shaker box. As Stanton masterfully conveys through dialogue and description, Avery possesses what so many of us yearn for: an unwavering passion for something. He also has the concentration and observational skills of a Sherlock Holmes, reading every object he comes across for clues to its past. Every chapter of Killer Stuff provides the history of some strange and wonderful object, including the one-quart butter churn and six-board blanket chest. Stanton's scope goes way beyond material objects, however. This is also a book about collecting, about what it means, philosophically, to seek out objects of a certain kind and gather them around you. It's also a book about our relationship to history, particularly American history. Most of all, it's a book about loving, about yearning for and treasuring things from the past. A wistful note occasionally sounds in this otherwise lively, often humorous book, a mourning not only for the end of certain objects but for a way of thinking that once valued the singular and handmade. Given the popularity of American Pickers and Antiques Roadshow (the latter of which Stanton examines in fascinating detail), we might think the antique business is thriving. But as Stanton shows, that's not the case. People want reproductions, not antiques; they desire the look of the old but the inexpensiveness of the new. Reading Stanton's book might well change their minds; it did mine, especially after reading this passage: "But when I see the lamp on my kitchen table, I have that feeling that Avery and other collectors and dealers have, a blush of warmth, pride, and even something that feels like-I'm slightly embarrassed to admit-affection. Since I bought the lamp, I've grown to love it more. If my house were on fire, I'd take the things I cherish most, family photos, drawings by my nieces and nephews, original paintings by my sister, Sally, an artist, and now the lamp. I'm convinced that I'll own the lamp until I die, after which I hope someone else will love it, too, and then pass it forward, this beautiful antique handmade thing that brings a glow to my kitchen, and my spirits." How could I ever want to buy a lamp from Target after reading this?
BarbieG More than 1 year ago
This book was such a great read! What an inside look we get into the antiques world. I love Curt Avery. He's full of charm, wit and integrity. The flea market/auction/antiques world and its characters is fascinating, as is the history behind many of the beloved objects discussed. I learned so much from this book. It is hard to put down...you just want to keep following Maureen and Curt through their hectic and often funny adventurues. The writing is seamless and often times I felt like a story was being told directly to me.
indianabookworm More than 1 year ago
I loved this book mainly because of the subject matter and the information it imparts. I collect and sell antiques so I know the problems involved with finding and identifying antiques and collectibles. I know there are many of you out there who would really love this book. It is also well-written and researched. Try it and see!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, very informative.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
StellaPSP More than 1 year ago
A much more interesting read than I thought it would be - enjoyed it very much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, a hidden gem of it's own! Glad I found it!The writing is clever and the story fascinating. Who knew the antique world could be so entertaining!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jay_W More than 1 year ago
This book is an interesting and informative look at historic Americana throught the experienced eye of a "character" who loves his business and deals with the socio-economic spectrum from A-Z. Keep your dictionary handy as Stanton's powers with the written word will enhance the story and keep the pages turning. It's almost like you wish you were paying attention in English class. She delivers in a way that actually makes you feel smarter while keeping her vivid story flowing. Example: if asked to describe the non-existent male anatomy of Captain Marvel, would you have come up with "analog?" The book clicks on all cylinders and it's fun!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting and fun!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Juli_ More than 1 year ago
This is a great look into the life of an antique dealer and the flea market/auction scene. Witty writing and a few laughs. I loved learning about the objects of the past and what they were used for. Fascinating "stuff"!