Updated 27 August 2014.
The Aussie Pickers, Lucas Callaghan and Adam McDonald, are Australia’s celebrity pickers and expert valuers. Between them, they have over 35 years of picking and antiquing experience, so we’ve asked them to join us on the Gumtree Roadshow to help you find out how much your stuff is really worth.
We sat down with the Aussie Pickers to chat all things vintage, collecting and what keeps the pair so passionate about second-hand treasures. Here’s what they had to say.
1. How did you get into picking?
Adam McDonald: I think I’ve always loved to find the odd and unusual. I’ve always loved markets and garage sales. But once I started working in an auction house, and realised I could make a living out of it, then it became almost an obsession.
Lucas Callaghan: As a kid I spent hours at auctions helping people move what they bought to their cars to make a little extra cash. One day I watched a man find a radiator cap in a pile of junk he bought for $35 and then two weeks later sold it through a specialty sale for $275,000. After that I was hooked and have never looked back.
2. How often do you go picking?
AM: I’d pick in my sleep if I could. There is not a minute of the day where I’m not on the lookout for collectables. Council clean up to antique shops. If I think I can turn a dollar on something, I’m in!
LC: I go picking 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It’s not just a job, it’s a way of life. You have to love the hunt otherwise you will never find those great scores. You always have to keep your eyes open, you never know when or where you may find that next win.
3. What’s the most common thing people undervalue?
AM: It still amazes me what people throw away. Retro furniture is commonly discarded as worthless and can be worth something. Ceramics are also an undervalued item. A lot of ceramics are just run of the mill but rare pieces can be worth big coin so you really need to know what you are looking for.
LC: Anything owned by people’s grandparents. Most people think grandma’s old stuff is junk, but more often than not it’s worth big money. People generally send grandma’s stuff to auction or sell it at a garage sale as they don’t do their research on items before they sell it. I have people come into my shop and say “my mum had one of those and I sold it at a garage sale”. When they see what it’s worth they kick themselves.
4. What’s been your favourite part of Aussie Pickers show so far?
AM: The people that we meet on the road are by far the best thing about being an Aussie Picker. All collectors have that same mentality, that same twinkle in their eye when you speak to them about their stuff. The history behind every piece is fascinating.
LC: My favourite part of Aussie Pickers is adventuring into unknown places and meeting the people who preserve our history. Another favourite part of Aussie Pickers is the towns and country properties we visit. They are such a great change to the city life.
5. Tell us about a find you sold but you wished you kept.
AM: The thing I wish I kept wasn’t my find, but Lucas’. He found a complete travelling bookies case. It had tote boards, bag stand and tickets. I was standing right next to it but couldn’t see the forest for the trees and he swung in and got it really cheap. I guess that’s the good thing about picking with a mate. The extra set of eyes is gold!
LC: 20 years ago I sold a GJ chair by Grete Juel Jalk – a Danish furniture designer. I bought it for $38 and sold for $1,500. Last year the same chair sold for $75,000.
6. What is one item you are still waiting to find?
AM: I’m always looking for the unusual. The odd. The rare finds. I guess my holy grail of a find at the moment is the VZ-2000 record playing boom box by SHARP. These are the pinnacle of vintage hifi and one I don’t have in my collection. Having said that, I could and probably will change my mind by the end of the day. There is so much stuff out there. How can I decide on one thing!
LC: I am always on the hunt for Australian design, as it is well sought after both here and overseas. My holy grail would have to be any furniture by Marc Newson, he designed and built iconic designs here in Australia for many years. So I know that there is stuff out there in auctions and garages just waiting to be found.
Want to find out more about picking with Lucas and Adam? Head to this link here.