BENNINGTON — Heart Felt Antiques and Auction Services has hit a home run after selling more than $25,000 worth of sports memorabilia, but this local auction house has more to give away than baseball cards.
Brian Tebo, owner of Heart Felt, has worked in this field since childhood.
Taking an atypical path to antiques, Tebo was sucked into it after destroying his mother’s car. He soon realized he had nowhere to go. One day his parents told him they were going to an auction and invited him to come with them. After that, it became a staple in the antiques and auction business.
Tebo said he is part of a fun company that is also his passion. His girlfriend and business partner, Krista Dickey, coined the name Heart Felt. She is a home care provider and has realized how helpful it can be to clean people’s homes. Selling items can provide additional cash while creating space in the original owner’s home.
“We really try to remain a sincere company. We’re dealing with people in the worst days of their lives,” said in-house auction manager Amanda Rivers.
This activity, especially when selling real estate, can be emotional. These sales often occur because of the death of a loved one. Tebo and Rivers agree that’s a sad and difficult aspect of the business. Some people cry and others end up changing their minds about auctioning off an item because they are emotionally unable to part with it.
When that happens, Heart Felt lives up to its name, Tebo said. If a family member seems reluctant to sell an item, Tebo will pause the sale to see if they change their mind. If this happens they are more than happy to return the item.
An education in antiquities
Tebo started in New England with small stands in group antique stores. Eventually he moved to Florida and continued to work in the business there.
After working in a large antique store for three years, he ventured out on his own and began selling at shows all over the country. Tebo traveled by van from show to show, setting up his booth, selling for a few days, packing up and starting again at another antique show.
Finally, the New Hampshire native returned up north in 2018. His store in Bennington started in Camelot Village. After the village closed, Heart Felt moved next to Colgate Park.
He has been there for about two and a half years. Tebo held three or four in-person auctions before the pandemic hit, and he had to shut down in-person events.
During the height of the pandemic, Heart Felt focused on online sales.
“We actually grew up in that time,” Tebo said.
He took shipments, and spotted and stocked inventory as much as COVID restrictions allowed. Tebo mentioned how time-consuming online sales can be. They must take five to 20 photos of each item, write a detailed description, and post it all on the auction’s website.
Honesty is a policy
If Tebo finds something valuable, he won’t belittle the owner. For example, recently he discovered a rare baseball bat in someone’s collection. He put it on consignment and split the profits with the original owner.
The baseball bat dates from 1905 to 1910. It has a blue, red and gold colored decal depicting Honus Wagner with an oval JF Hillerich & Son hallmark. According to research done by Tebo, the bat could have been used by Honus Wagner in a baseball game.
Tebo said Wagner was a great baseball player, but he was also the first person to have a licensing deal with JF Hillerich & Son. Wagner memorabilia are highly sought after and can cost millions of dollars to purchase.
The bat has cleat and ball marks, suggesting that it is used in games. Additionally, the bat is similar in size and weight to the bats Wagner would use. It should be mentioned that the bats retailed to the general public were 1 or 2 inches shorter than the bat found by Tebo. This means the bat could have been made for Wagner to use.
If the baseball bat is authenticated as being used in a game, Tebo says it could be worth around $100,000, based on similar items that have sold in the past. Since it was unauthenticated when Tebo sold it online, the bat sold for $15,000 plus a 15% buyer’s premium, for a total of $17,250.
‘Walking stick’ in a Bennington closet
Prior to its sale, the bat was in a home in Bennington. The original owner found it in his parents’ closet in Connecticut. Not knowing how valuable it could be, her daughter used it as a cane when she injured her leg. “Good thing [she] didn’t play with that logo,” Tebo said.
Heart Felt has sold its fair share of sports memorabilia in the past. Recently, he sold a 1953 Mickey Mantle card for $1,600, a 1952 Mickey Mantle card for $2,600, a 1952 Willie Mays Rookie card for $4,700, and a 1951 Mickey Mantle rookie card for $7,250. $.
While sports memorabilia has been good for business, the auction house sells for much more than that. Tebo has Bennington stamped pottery, wood carvings, local art, antique furniture and more. The company’s inventory grows and changes every day.
To meet demand, Heart Felt’s work is split between in-person auctions, online auctions and estate sales. It obtains new inventory through consignments and buybacks, depending on the customer. Some people want to see how much their items will go to auction, and others want to finish the sale as soon as possible.
Heart Felt organizes a special selection of items for its online auctions which take place every three or four months.
“We will keep items that are suitable for sale online, as we sell nationally and internationally. We sold in the Netherlands, even in pieces in China and Europe and everywhere,” Tebo said.
Unlike other auction houses, Heart Felt Antiques and Auction Services is accessible. Tebo believes anyone can attend an auction and walk away with something unique. Its next auction will be on Saturday. For the most up-to-date information, visit facebook.com/heartfeltantiques.