ABOUT THE BOOK
Whether it’s Antiques Roadshow or American Pickers, or any of the number of TV shows on flea markets, the world of collecting inspires a cult following of millions of Americans. Celebrated author Maureen Stanton takes readers behind the scenes and deep into the “flea-o-sphere,” following master antiques dealer Curt Avery from the populist mayhem of flea markets, to the rarefied realm of high-end antiques shows, to the heart-pounding competition of auctions. Killer Stuff and Tons of Money is a captivating tour of the outrageous world of American antiques, jam-packed with colorful characters, high-stakes scores, and insider tips for all who seek hidden treasure.
Killer Stuff and Tons of Money (Review by Annie Groer) - Washington Post
Curt Avery is the fake name of the very real hero of “Killer Stuff and Tons of Money,” which is too bad. Because 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, collectors, sport shoppers, decorators, scholars and especially the pseudonymous Windsor chair restorer whose brilliantly altered and repaired pieces have fooled a number of top antiquarians and museums.
“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 (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 High Cost of Discount Living
A Never-Ending Treasure Hunt (Review by Jonathan Lopez) - Wall Street Journal
"The Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote that "luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." For the habitually "lucky" antiques dealer at the heart of Maureen Stanton's "Killer Stuff and Tons of Money," preparation means cultivating a deep knowledge of objects—Shaker furniture, heirloom porcelain, 18th-century weathervanes—while opportunity results from meticulously examining tens of thousands of items every year at flea markets, auctions and antiques fairs."
Nonfiction Guides and a Review of Stanton's Killer Stuff - Kenyon Review
"For the record: this is, sort of, a review of the dynamite Killer Stuff and Tons of Money by Maureen Stanton, which is subtitled Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America, and which I couldn’t stop reading——it’s a solid day’s reading, one of those books you’ll start early and won’t really be able to put down or shake till you’re finished."
Rummaging through Underworld of Antiques, Flea Markets - 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..."
Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-market America - Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2011
"A tour d’horizon of the world of antiques, from flea markets to antiques shows to high-end auction houses, with a brief stopover at eBay and the Antiques Roadshow.
Before Stanton (Creative Nonfiction/Univ. of Missouri) reconnected with her pseudonymous old college friend, “Curt Avery,” who had become a professional antiques dealer, she was “the self-anointed Queen of the Flea-Market Dollar Table.” Like many Americans, she was on the lookout for an appealing bargain and just as happy with an inexpensive reproduction as the real thing. When she and Avery met again in 2000, she agreed to fly across the country to attend an auction where some old bottles that he coveted were on offer. He asked her to be his proxy bidder while he hid at the back and signaled his bids. This was her introduction to a fascinating subculture, which she calls “the ‘flea’ realm.” Over the years, she attended many fairs and flea markets with Avery as what she calls a “participant observer,” getting up before dawn to help him set up displays, grabbing food on the run and camping out next to his truck at night. “The greatest reward of trailing Avery,” she writes, “has been to rekindle my fascination with history.” Stanton writes about the thrill of spotting a pair of late-18th-century sugar snips mixed in with a pile of tools, and learning the history of opium bottles, which were produced in the millions until the 20th century, when the sale of opium in grocery stores was prohibited. The author learned to truly value these objects—which preserved the collective memory of a past way of life—and to value the craftsmanship they embodied.
A treasure-trove of a book, especially for would-be antiquers."
"Call it the “Antiques Roadshow” effect: You pull over at a yard sale, just to stretch your legs, when an ugly painting of a woman holding a rolling pin catches your eye. Five dollars? Jeez, I wouldn’t want it for free . . . but wait. Could that be an undiscovered classic? Whistler’s mother-in-law, maybe! Visions of six-figure auction payouts dance through your head, and you start rehearsing your “shocked” face for the appraiser. Well, keep dreaming. In Killer Stuff and Tons of Money, author Maureen Stanton spends time on the road with antiques dealer Curt Avery while he wheels and deals at auctions, shows, flea markets and yard sales. It’s his full-time job, and no picnic. Avery is on the road for much of the year, missing time with his wife and young kids so he can pitch a tent in 100-degree heat and haggle over the price of things so old many people misinterpret their intended uses. He buys things to resell (sometimes capitalizing on the ignorance of the seller), fueled by the same dream the rest of us have: one big score that means a little time off from the hustle."
Book Offers Look at Professional Antique Dealer (Review by Malcolm Ritter) - Associated Press
"Curt Avery buys and sells antiques at flea markets and shows. He knows his stuff. He can date a watercolor to the 1890s by the style of the fishing pole it shows, or a stitched sampler to the late 18th century by a quirk in the lettering."
Book Review: KILLER STUFF AND TONS OF MONEY by Maureen Stanton - Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Books
"Killer Stuff and Tons of Money is about the sub-culture of the American antiquities trade, from open-air markets like Brimfield to high-end indoor shows such as Boston Antiques Weekend; from eBay to Antiques Roadshow."
Killer Stuff and Tons of Money - Parade Magazine
"Succeeding in the cutthroat world of antiques dealing requires a rare mix of talents: the calculating mind of a Wall Street whiz, the arcane knowledge of an art historian, adn the poker face--and luck--of a Vegas high roller. Bostonian Curt Avery (a pseudonym), this lively book's subject, has these skills in spades..."
"Maureen Stanton met Curt Avery (a pseudonym) in the 1980’s while in graduate school. Later she met him again when he flew from Massachusetts to Ohio with $4,000 in his pocket to look at a couple of old bottles he was interested in buying. He decided to bid on one of the bottles and stood behind a pole while using her as a decoy to bid in order to fool one of his competitors. He sometimes used this technique since people in the audience, who had no intention of bidding, only began bidding when they saw him raise his paddle or nod to the auctioneer, which was often their first clue that the item might be of some special worth. For the next six years Ms. Stanton followed him as a participant observer as he toured the country selling and buying goods at flea markets and antique shows. He tutored her about the business both as a favor to her and because he wanted people to better understand and appreciate antiques."