A few weeks ago I was contacted by Trish at TLC Book Tours to see if I would be willing to review a new book by Maureen Stanton called Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America. They provided me with a free copy in exchange for my honest review.
I want to preface my review by telling you a little bit about my childhood. I was raised in a home full to the brim with antiques. My mother (and father, to a lesser extent) is a collector. And she has an amazing eye and a brain like a steel trap full of all sorts of information about just about everything. As I was growing, I took antiques for granted. Never realizing the treasure trove that was my house. Once I grew up, I started to realize that all of those carefully curated collections were actually worth something more than the love of the objects. It fascinated me that my mother could find these treasures for next to nothing and actually have them be worth something. Of course, my mother's interest in the antiques really wasn't their value. Her interest was the history. And I appreciated that. But as an adult, walking the aisles of Brimfield (which is mentioned often in this book), I would make mental notes of the prices I saw on objects that I knew my mother had in her collection. Then I'd call her and tell her what they were worth. It was mildly interesting to her. Fascinating to me.
I give you my own background only to help you understand my personal interest in this book which is billed as (and is in fact) non-fiction, but reads more like a novel. It follows the story of an antiques dealer named Curt Avery. Curt is bitten by the antiques bug as a boy. He starts out digging up old bottles and soon learns that he can sell them for profit. His interests then expand past bottles to all sorts of antiques and his life as an antiques dealer begins.
Maureen Stanton, the author of the book, has the unique opportunity of following Curt from auctions, to flea markets to high-end antiques shows. In her journeys with him, she learns the inside workings of the antiques sub-culture in America. The good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly.
The way Ms. Stanton interweaves historical information with her narrative of her experiences with Curt makes the book a page turner. As I read, I became personally invested in Curt's battles to make a living selling objects that it takes a wealth of knowledge to discern as authentic. And, as we learn in the book, sometimes even the experts can be fooled. As I said, fascinating.
I thought of my mother often as I turned the pages, and read the insights into Curt Avery's vast knowledge of both history and the artifacts it has created. I gained a great respect for the amount of study it takes to truly understand antiques.
If you're interested in flea-markets, antiques, collectibles and the like - which, most of us who are decorating-obsessed are - you'll enjoy this book as well.
Thank you Trish for the opportunity to read and review this book! I was provided with a free copy. The opinions expressed are my own.
Have a great day~