Trading Up is Okay...
Trading Up is Okay
If you are in this hobby, I know you probably think you are unique; you have this crazed collector blood in you and you can’t get rid of that. The second part of this statement is correct. Once in your blood, you can’t get rid of it. There is no cure. You itch from the inside and really just can’t scratch it. You might use credit cards with the hope to pay later. Perhaps borrow from your reserves, your Roth Fund, your bank account, your wife or brother, whatever. You just have to collect, even when you sell your collection and somehow avoid getting back into gas and oil, you’ll find another hobby to enjoy and pacify your needs. It then starts all over. Just some observations here--I don’t have all the answers.
The first part is not so true. Yes, we are all unique but it’s amazing how, as collectors, we are so similar from one person to the next. Let’s face it, I have yet to meet a person who would not like to buy just about everything they see and never sell a darn piece. We really are all like that. But, unfortunately, it comes down to the all mighty dollar and very few of us have unlimited resources. Over the years I’ve had a few people ask me, “How can you sell all these great pieces and be a collector too? You cannot be both!” They are wrong. If there was any way I could keep all these items I pick up, well yes, I would! I wouldn’t sell a darn thing! I’d even keep duplicates on most pieces because I like this stuff so much. I used to pick out a rare globe I liked and count all the known ones out there and if I could possibly get all seven of them, I’d have them all. I’m a little crazy I know, but that’s okay. I had a good friend who had 13 of the same exact gas globe before he passed away. Bless him as he is so much like me and the rest of the hobby, I think? Yes, they’d haul me away to the funny farm and then the family would have a big sale but who cares? Even so, I can’t keep it all. So I keep what pieces I can and the rest go down the road. I can collect, too and I have a decent collection, not by any means the best, just decent. Would I like more? Absolutely, but I have bills to pay and kids to raise so I filter out what I really would hate to sell. What do you do when you get to that crossroad? I’ve been there too many times over the years. Something always comes up it seems and then darn, I have to sell something I really don’t want to sell. There is another scenario too. You have that one time chance to buy that unique piece and you just don’t have the money or the resources to do it. Different problem but same dilemma, you need the money…
I’ve become an expert at something I dislike very much. That is, sell an item I really don’t want to. Avoid it at all costs if you can, but if you have to, take some advice here.
First, sell an item you know you can replace. Or, sell an item you are likely to replace. If you have several say, Skelly gas globes or more common Sinclair globes, common Mobil pump plates, sell them if you have to, as most or all can be replaced down the road. Signs, pumps, cans, whatever it’s all the same advice here. If you are digging deeper, then sell a scarce or rare piece rather than a one of a kind or an item that just never turns up. It’s okay to ask for advice. Get on the forums and the phone and ask advice. Say you don’t want to sell that rare Sinclair Aircraft sign or rare Musgo gas globe. You know that either piece in decent condition would net you $15,000 plus. I would sell either as these pieces are not rare at all. There are over 100 known Musgo globes out there and dozens of Sinclair Aircraft signs. They might seem rare to you actually they are not rare at all. Maybe it takes a year to find another. So the guy at the next gas and oil swap meet has a rare Royaline Gasoline porcelain 30” sign, which never come up, in near mint condition and he wants $20,000 for it. You are broke but may have something else to sell. Just buy it and then figure out how to solve your problem later. That’s what I do when I can. If you don’t have the money on you have someone vouch for you, leave a deposit and have him bring it to the next show. You can borrow from a friend on lesser valued pieces, just random advice here. You’ll figure it out.
Let’s say it is worse than that. Let’s say you deeply prize every piece you own and something comes up that you have to have and you are broke. Another option is to sell the one piece, though you have enjoyed over the years, to someone else who really wants it. You can sort of justify getting rid of it because of all the years you have enjoyed it. I know that’s easier said than done. Often I have sold a piece and said, “I’ve enjoyed that for 12 years now and Bob really wants it so let Bob enjoy it now.” Then you might have Bob promise that if and when he sells it, you get first shot. Am I the only one that thinks like this? Anyway that’s what I do and over the years I have sold several unique pieces only to get them back down the road when I had more money! Sometimes that piece slips away but hey, it’s not the end of the world.
Here is another piece of advice when these scenarios come up. If you are willing to trade something, be willing to sell it too. It leaves you either way. It’s time to move on. Trading in this hobby is scarce and hard to do sometimes. Selling is easier. Just take the money and buy something else. Good to great pieces show up all the time in our hobby. If you have some money, believe me you can spend it quickly in this hobby.
I got in a bind once, sold a one of a kind Hi Speed gas globe to a long time friend with the promise if he ever sold it I’d like it back--at a higher price of course. He had it for a few years and started selling a few pieces off from his collection. I was able to get it back so this situation all worked out. See the photo here in this article.
Another time, when I was much younger and had no money, I sold off a very rare gas globe to a long time friend with the same promise. I had needed a down payment on my first house! After about 10 years I finally got it back with a trade to my friend. Then a couple years later another one was found so I sold the one just found to my friend. So in this case everyone won.
Years ago I had a friend with a cool collection of common gas globes. He only had so much money and back in the 1980s a lot of great globes were coming up. I kept telling him to sell off some of the common pieces and upgrade to some of the better pieces he really liked. He just couldn’t do that! He couldn’t sell anything. A few years later he told me he wished he had sold off some of his collection and upgraded to some better pieces, which were now way out of his price range. Lesson learned but he made that decision at that time. We all make decisions, some good, some not so good.
Sometimes it’s as simple as just switching gears. Maybe you like Mobil and several cool Gulf items keep turning up that you really enjoy. Again, keep what you can but realize space and money keep many of us from the funny farm as mentioned above. So, consider selling off a part of your collection and shift to something else.
Often it’s as simple as selling some other items off, an old car that’s really too expensive to restore, an old antique that’s been in your family but you really have no interest in it. We can’t keep everything and the sooner you realize that the more fun you’ll have.
I once asked a very wealthy friend, who is now gone, “What’s it like to buy everything you ever wanted, whenever you wanted? Is it the most awesome thing in the world to be like this?” His reply, “Not really, I get bored as there is no challenge, no hunt really. It’s not as much fun as you think it would be…”
That made me think, I really got what he meant. I guess all I’m saying is if you have to give something up to get something else, it’s okay. It’ll be all right.