Antiques & The Arts
Browsing (and Shopping) the Alameda Antiques Faire

Browsing (and Shopping) the Alameda Antiques Faire

As many of you know who have followed me for
some time, both here and on instagram, I’m a huge patron of flea markets. Last year when I visited San Francisco and
the Bay Area I made a video on the various antique stores and flea markets I go to when
I’m here. Rather than repeat that this year I’ve decided
to focus on one flea market in particular, one huge flea market out on the island of
Alameda! I’ll be touching upon some of the strategies
I use when flea marketing, and how to navigate something this immensely massive in a reasonably
short time, some general tips and tricks and of course I’ll be showing some very cool things
I found. So let’s get the intro out of the way and
get this show on the road! The real reason I came out to California was
for Maker Faire Bay Area, and while that is a fun event in itself, and I even this year
had the chance to present the Maker Knife and how to take your product idea into reality
through production in China, you’re here to hear about flea marketing. So let’s wake up at an ungodly hour on a Sunday
morning, take a foggy drive across town through San Francisco, across the Bay Bridge and hit
up the northern parts of Alameda. Alameda Point once held a large naval base,
but may be most known today for being one of the sites Mythbusters frequently used for
some of their outdoor tests. The first sunday of every month it’s turned
into an enormous antiques fair, routinely hosting more than 800 vendors spread out over
around 10 hectares (~25 acres (11/2009, 6/2013 Google Earth). These are everything from small tables selling
a mishmash of small knickknacks to larger operations with very well selected material,
and prices to go with it. Everyone from pickers to well established
antique dealers come here to sell, so the selection is both vast, and varied. That is also one huge reason why I love going
to antique markets like this, the constant assault on the senses of this exact varied
selection of material. While I generally am on the look out for tools,
I constantly find new and exciting things that peak my interest, or that inspire new
things to create. For instance there was this one guy selling
old airplane and airforce material that had been sitting in his fathers warehouse since
the 1960s. It’s a table I could have left very poor from,
if I could have thought of a practical way of getting all this material back home to
Europe. I did end up buying something from him though,
but I will leave that reveal to the very end of the video. (1063 & 1064) Of course with all this random stuff it makes
it difficult, and time consuming, to find the gems hiding among all the chaff. In a way this is something that comes with
experience, you learn to condition your brain and your eyes into a certain kind of pattern
recognizion, to quickly disregard sellers which obviously have no interesting material
for sale. This is a dangerous practice however, and
one that is in a constant state of honing, as many of the best finds I’ve made over the
years have been from sellers selling things not at all related to tools, but ended up
having something special they don’t know anything about that they acquired randomly. So by some accounts you will lose out on those
rare finds if you do your selection process too carelessly. While it may timewise be possible to scrutinize
everything in detail if you go to a smaller market, going to a fair this size it’s simply
impossible to visit every stand and look at everything in detail. For comparison, we were there for five hours,
and that just included one walkthrough, go through it again and you could easy spend
the entire day there. It is important to allow yourself time to
stop when you see something cool, something out of the ordinary, even if you have no intention
of buying it. I usually have a lot of conversations with
vendors at these markets, learning about various items of interest, figuring out their history
and their importance in the world. I’ve thought more than once that if I were
to switch carreers I would go into opening my own antiques shop, specializing in industrial
items such as tools, machinery and related ephemera, but that may be in another time
in another life. There were actually a fair amount of tool
vendors on site, with tools ranging from wood working, metal working, specialist machinist
tools, horology tools and more. Unfortunately for me I had a luggage weight
limit so I could not go entirely crazy, and my specific area of interest, metrology, is
somewhat pointless to look for when in the states as most measuring devices, like my
beloved micrometers, are solely in imperial measurements. I tend not to pick up things which are not
metric, unless they’re extremely special objects. There were some cool mechanical devices in
some stands as well, like this Redington counter which I just about picked up, but the guy
wanted a bit too much for it to make it worth my while. Maybe the most wonderful thing that I found,
and that I am still kind of kicking myself for not buying, is this small, fully functional,
business card printing press. It was missing a couple of rollers, but those
would be easy enough to manufacture. It was a little out of my budget though, but
factoring in the price it would cost to ship it back to Europe it just did not make much
sense. Still, what a beauty! So, let’s get to the elephant in the fair,
no, sorry, that’s a raccoon (1091). Let’s talk about haggling! I know many people feel awkward haggling,
and many just cannot handle it at all. I come from a very non-haggling culture, and
it took me some time to get rid of the hesitations I had around asking for a better price. My personal strategy is if I find something
to immediately cut one third of the listed price. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,
but it starts up negotiations. My end goal is not to get a third off the
price, even though sometimes I do, but rather to land around a 20% discount. Sometimes, for certain items, I don’t haggle
at all, if the stated price is fair and cheap enough. I have no interest in trying to trick vendors
who price things fairly, and within my budget, into selling things at an unfair price to
me. I do feel that a certain fairness is required
as well, so it doesn’t only become a game of how cheap you can get something, but actually
becomes more about the interest in the items you want to buy. Everyone loves a bargain, but I feel being
fair, especially with vendors you may see time and time again and get to know over successive
visits, reaps much greater rewards in the long run. I’ve had vendors setting things aside for
me because they knew it was right up my alley, and that’s something you get from building
a report with someone, not trying to squeeze their arm to get the best deal imaginable. Before we take a look at the items I actually
got from the flea market, here is a word from today’s sponsor, and you guessed it, it’s
PCBWay! While their products are hardly something
you would find at a flea market for many years to come, they do make excellent quality PCBs! They’re just now celebrating their five year
anniversary, and with it are offering some great deals and discounts on many of their
products. If you have a project in need of circuit boards,
be sure to give PCBWay a try, and with a 99% on time delivery rate you can rest assured
you’ll have your PCBs on time for your project! Remember that supporting Switch & Lever’s
sponsors helps this channel to grow! Anyway, let’s take a little look at what I
actually ended up picking up from the Alameda Antiques Faire. As I said I had limited space but I did come
away with two pretty neat optical items, two horology items and one of the coolest things
I’ve ever bought. One is a solid brass loupe from Van Cort Instruments
in amazing shape. I’m a sucker for both brass and optical devices,
though I rarely know what to use them for. I’m sure this will come in handy in the shop
though, especially when inspecting solder joints and traces. I also picked up a small viewfinder, simply
because it looked cool in front of the lens of my phone. This is one of those things with limited usage,
but sometimes you just gotta get something for fun a well, especially if it’s just a
buck or two. The two horology items are two different vises
for watchmaking. The first one is called a poising tool and
used to balance various watch parts and the jaws are not used as much for clamping as
having each side of an axle with a wheel or gear resting on it as you balance it. It’s difficult to acertain its age, but I’ve
found almost identical ones online dated around mid 19th century. More modern poising tools tend to have three
legs to aid in leveling, and often ruby jaws as well. The second is a case or movement holder for
holding a full watch movement as you work on it, as illustrated here by this one euro
coin. I have a watch I’m restoring so I’m sure these
will come in useful in the future. And finally, something that I have absolutely
no use for, but is so cool I can hardly contain myself, is this huge Remove Before Flight
tag from the guy I mentioned in the beginning selling airplane parts. This isn’t just any tag though, but one that
was used in Rocket Firing Safety! How amazingly cool isn’t that? What should I do with it? Should I put it on my keychain and leave it
hanging out of my pocket? Should I use it as a flag on my car? Leave some comments below if you have some
fantastical uses for it which respects its origins! I would love to get some input on this! That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this
trip out to Alameda. Check out the flea market video I made last
year, and do the usual things, like, subscribe, follow on instagram and buy some cool merch! Until next time!

47 comments on “Browsing (and Shopping) the Alameda Antiques Faire

  1. I think it would make a good bathrobe sash. I always want to customize a favorite bathrobe. I'd sew it on right at my waist. Your shots of SF streets in the fog were choice.

  2. I enjoy attending the San Mateo Maker Faire was well, I hope they find a way to continue on next year. My last tool purchase came from an antique store visited upon my return trip from the Faire.

  3. That looks like a fantastic place to visit! That tag is fabulous! Hmm. Do you need a pin to keep any huge machine doors closed, like a CNC lathe?

  4. please show some of the clock restoration. spring tension clocks are so interesting.
    how some people have effected how i pronounce things:
    Arnold Schwarzenegger – choppah
    GreatScott – computah/micro-controlah
    Switch & Lever – Lêêêvêr
    David Windestål – Tri-Kopter!
    Pewdipie – What?! you never played tuber simulator. psshshshshhs

  5. Make a reverse Doorlock where you have to remove the tag before closing the door and locking it automaticly

  6. 4:52 This reminds me of this photo of a centrifugal supercharger for a radial aircraft engine:
    I'd pick it up just to see what I could do with all of those gears and chain drives!

  7. Great video. Looks like you had fun. Love places like this but have to avoid them because I'm a recovering hoarder. : ) Namaste!

  8. Nice! So many cool things!! 😮 Love that loupe you picked up with the 3 legs, very nice. Much like you I end up drawn to the brass, it seems.

  9. You should check out the Wannamakers gun and knife show in Tulsa Oklahoma.
    It's the biggest one in the world.

  10. Do you have a drone? Drones wouldn't fly very well with that big thing hanging off, so you'd better remove it before flight!

  11. Make a fake rocket and have the safety pin hooked to it and if you pull the pin it will activate a warning siren like it is going to take off

  12. Ohhh my God!!! I'm so far… I'm in Europe!!! I dream to walk around a flea markets like this!!! That's deserve I vacation to USA !!! Lol 😄

  13. It would be cool to use the ribbon as a safety feature on a machine so it can't be turned on when you are adjusting/setting up the machine or otherwise have various body parts in harms way should the machine be started by a third party. Oh, why wasn't I invited to the first two parties?

  14. Jerry rig the “Remove before flight” tag as a pull for a toilet handle in your bathroom. Something like early toilets and their pull chains.

  15. 1/3 off? I start at half and if they don’t tell me to fuck off straight away I’ll haggle to a realistic price. I’m in Sales so I cop this all the time and have no dramas with it, so I put the hard word back on others, it’s just the way I am. 😊

  16. What about using this remove before flight tag to strap your luggage together when going on a flight? This would kind a bring it to its origin again and again 🙂

  17. Definitely put that flag on a keychain and walk around with it hanging out of your pocket. How could you not do that?

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