You could live in a lighthouse auctioned off by the US government

The United States General Services Administration is auctioning off six lighthouses, one on in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland and five Michigan's Great Lakes. Bidding starts at around $15,000 and there isn't much action yet! From Mental Floss:

Prospective bidders must agree to put down a $5,000 to $10,000 deposit on the lighthouse they’re interested in. They must also be prepared to renovate the house’s interior so it will meet the legal standards for public habitation. The actual property each lighthouse stands on will still belong to the government, but with the building no longer needed for its original purpose, the new owner will be free to transform it into a bed and breakfast, a summer home, or anything else they envision.

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Autographed photo of Einstein sticking out his tongue sells for big bucks

This photo of Albert Einstein has been an old favorite of geeks-of-all-stripes for years. I remember my much older brother Mark, a scientist and surgeon, had a huge poster of it on his wall in college. An original print of the photo, taken by UPI photog Arthur Sasse on March 14, 1951 at Einstein's 72nd birthday party, just sold at auction for $125,000. The print is signed by Einstein at the bottom. The full frame shows Einstein with Princeton's Frank Aydelotte, head of the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton University, and his wife Marie Jeanette.

(Space.com) Read the rest

FBI surveillance van from the 1980s on eBay

Ginter Senfeldas of Cary, North Carolina, says he purchased this 1989 Dodge Ram 350 "FBI surveillance van" from a government auction site. It's apparently outfitted with vintage A/V tech, external microphones, pinholes for cameras, and other interesting modifications. Apparently when he purchased it, there were handcuffs, binoculars, "and even leftover video from an old FBI stakeout" inside.

From the auction listing, details of the "interesting" features:

3 Extra Batteries + onboard charger/adapter Toilet in the back 2 LCD Screens Video recorders/Players with all the gadgets Tape Recorder/Player INTERCOM Rear AC/Heat Unit Propane Tanks Radars Amplifiers A lot of 110V Sockets * You can turn off/on the engine from the back * Every door has extra locks!

"Vintage FBI surveillance van listed for sale on eBay" (CBS News)

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Unheard Michael Jackson album up for auction

A CD containing nine unheard Michael Jackson songs that are reportedly master recording quality will be on the auction block next week. The winner won't have legal distribution rights though. From Rolling Stone:

The starting bid on the unreleased album is $50,000, though organizers tell Rolling Stone that they expect the final price to go as high as $1 million. Whoever takes home the CD will not own rights to the music, so the winning bidder cannot distribute the recording. According to the auction house, the album was obtained by "the personal friend and personal assistant to Michael whose family was very close to Michael for many years, traveling all over the world with him." When reached for comment, a rep for (auctioneers) Gotta Have Rock and Roll said Jackson's friend wished to remain anonymous.

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Bid on old computers, speakers, radios, and other junk from the bowels of RadioShack

Starting July 10, you can bid on TRS-80 computers, dot matrix printers, Realistic speakers, shortwave receivers, old catalogs, and company "memorabilia" from the bowels of bankrupt RadioShack. From the auction site:

From humble beginnings in Boston in 1921, over the past 95 years RadioShack established itself as a globally recognized leader and the go to retailer for consumer electronics. RadioShack has always been known as the place for answers to the American public's technology and electronics questions. "You've got questions, we've got answers."

Over the years, RadioShack introduced consumers to exciting and affordable gadgets and electronics that have become household items. As we cleaned out our historic archives in Fort Worth, Texas, we uncovered a cache of iconic memorabilia in 12 huge safes, including: unused original TRS-80 Microcomputers, Realistic Transistor Radios, Tandy computer software games, original brick cell phones and so much more. We all remember coming into RadioShack whether it was for the battery-of-the-month, new walkie-talkies, or to check out the newest RC toy cars. Now we reintroduce many of those nostalgic items and more with our rolling online memorabilia auction.

RadioShack Auction #1 (thanks, Charles Platt!)

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Up for auction: the never-seen original 1957 Haunted Mansion prospectus

Heritage Auctions is selling off a super-rare original 1957 prospectus for the Haunted Mansion, prepared by Ken Anderson as a first approximation of what Disneyland's "spook house" might be. Read the rest

Spherical-cut meteorite on ebay, yours for $18,000

Listed as a Seymchan Pallasite Olivine Meteorite, this beautiful item is priced $18,000 but they're accepting offers.

Mineral Origin: Magadan District, Russia, 1967 Diameter: 2.77" / 70.3 mm Weight: 2 lbs 4.3 oz / 1029 grams / 1.029 kilograms

...Seymchan is a Pallasite meteorite found in the dry bed of the Hekandue River in the Magadan District, Russia, near the settlement of Seymchan in June 1967 ...

Pallasites consist of a nickel-iron matrix packed with Olivine crystals and account for less than 2% of all known meteorites ... and unlike many meteorites, Seymchan is stable and rust resistant!

Due to the rarity of the Seymchan material and the large cut loss incurred to make a sphere, very few have been cut! ... and we can almost guarantee, another one this size is unlikely to be ever cut!

In April 2016, a Seymchan Pallasite sphere sold at Christie's Auction for over $10,000! ... and it was only 434 grams! ... less than half the size of this one! In October 2012, a 548 gram Seymchan Pallasite sphere sold for $13,000!

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Hot Cockles and other weird medieval party games

Claire Voon takes a fascinating look at engraver Joseph Strutt's illustrations of strange medieval party games, many of which involve beating the hell out of other guests. Read the rest

You could own the light-up dance floor from Saturday Night Fever

The fantastic light-up dance floor from Saturday Night Fever (1977) will go up for auction in a couple of weeks. The 24' x 36' floor, outfitted with more than 250 lights, was built and installed at Brooklyn's 2001 Odyssey nightclub specifically for the film. When the place closed in 2005, former employee Vito Bruno bought it. Auction house Profiles in History expects it to fetch $1 to $1.5 million.

Can you dig it? I knew that you could.

(Reuters)

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Shatner auctioning Captain Kirk action figure that went to space

William Shatner is auctioning off his Captain Kirk action figure that orbited the Earth in 2014 aboard the Orion EFT-1 spacecraft. It's part of Shatner's Hollywood Charity Horse Show fundraiser that supports therapeutic horse riding programs for children with special needs. From the auction listing:

Star Trek Captain Kirk Action Figure of Captain Kirk in an Environmental Suit was the perfect choice to be part of the cargo that was flown aboard Orion EFT-1! The Orion EFT-1 flew two orbits around the earth on December 5, 2014. On the second orbit it reached a high apogee and reentered the Earth's atmosphere at 20,000 miles per hour. This action figure went along for the ride. The figure is still sealed in the shipping package it came back with and includes a folder with a letter of authentifiation from Lockheed Martin the flight certificate and a note from Mr. Shatner. In addition Mr. Shatner will personally autograph the figure for the winner if they choose. How many people can claim that they have a Star Trek action figure that flew on Orion?

(via Space.com) Read the rest

You can buy Sammy Davis Jr.'s Rolls Royce that Frank Sinatra gifted him

Next week, Bonhams is auctioning Sammy Davis Jr.'s 1977 Rolls Royce Camargue. The sticker price was $148,000, approximately $600,000 in today's dollars. It's expected to sell for US$38,000-$46,000. From Bonhams:

Not too surprisingly, these cars appealed to the Stars of their day, and according to folklore, this was one of a brace of Camargues bought new by passionate car guys and Rat Pack celebs, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra, the latter receiving car JRF 30905. Both were ordered through Bill Harrah's Modern Classic Motors dealership in Reno, Nevada in January 1977, it is said that they were gifts to each other...

It is understood that Davis kept the car for several years, after which it migrated to the East Coast, where it has been suggested it was owned by a Mafia boss in the New York area and it is said that this accounts for its revision to a full Mason's black livery with blacked out windows that it still wears.

(via Uncrate)

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What fastmouthed auctioneers are saying

"The auctioneer is typically speaking logical sentences quickly," says Barry Baker of Ohio Real Estate Auctions, "with filler words mixed in." Read the rest

Einstein's stinky leather jacket sold for $144,000

Albert Einstein's very cool leather jacket sold at auction today for £110,500 ($144,424). The coat came complete with the pungent odor of the scientist's pipe. Also on the block were Einstein's pocket watch and toy blocks from his childhood. From Christie's:

‘The jacket first appears in a number of photographs of Einstein, taken at the height of his fame in the mid-1930s,’ (said Christie's specialist Thomas Venning). A shot from 1935 shows the scientist wearing it upon his arrival for a holiday in the Bahamas — ‘improbably paired,’ adds Venning, ‘with a rather natty wing collar’...

Over several years, the jacket aged visibly. ‘Einstein wore it all the time — a fact mentioned in the memoirs of fellow scientist Leopold Infeld, who worked with him at Princeton. Infeld explained that Einstein tried to keep material restrictions to a minimum. Long hair reduced the need for a barber and, he wrote, “one leather jacket solved the coat problem for years.”’

"5 minutes with… Einstein’s leather jacket" (Christie's)

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Own a Piece of Houdini

I don’t mean a lock of hair or a toe nail—nothing weird.

This Saturday, April 9, one of the largest auctions of Houdini memorabilia ever held will take place in Chicago, held by Potter & Potter Auctions. You can download a pdf of the catalogue. And the whole shebang is up on Live Auctioneers where you can also bid on these fabulous items from anywhere in the world.

Why so fabulous? No matter whether you are wealthy or not, you will likely be able to purchase something touched in some way by Harry Houdini, the world’s greatest escape artist and icon of the 20th century, in this auction.

Do you want a lockpick he might have twiddled between his fingers or toes to free himself from some diabolical device?

Or you can buy one of his sets of props that he used for the trick where he swallowed a bunch of straight needles and then some thread, thereafter removing the thread from his mouth with the needles dangling along its length.

There are buckets full of Houdini’s handcuffs and various forms of restraints, including these metal mittens that will set anyone into bondage a quiver; and a display of restraints also owned by Houdini and later used as a lobby display for the 1950s Tony Curtis biography of the escape artist.

Lot 120 features two canisters of 35mm film featuring 26 minutes of clips of Houdini, some perhaps not seen by anyone in 90 years. The frame grabs below are enough to make Houdini collector’s wet their pants. Read the rest

Beatles "holy grail" record sells for $110k

An exceedingly rare and historically important Beatles record sold at auction today for $110,000. The 78 RPM 10" acetate includes "Hello Little Girl," apparently the first song John Lennon ever wrote (or at least recorded). The flip side is a song Meredith Wilson wrote for the 1957 play The Music Man, titled "Til There Was You." Take a listen below. The Beatles manager Brian Epstein handwrote the label on this particular record that now belongs to an anonymous collector.

From Omega Auctions:

This unique 10" 78RPM acetate record featuring 'Hello Little Girl' on one side and 'Til There Was You' on the other was cut in the Personal Recording Department of the HMV record store on Oxford St, London. Brian Epstein had the disc cut from the Decca audition tapes before presenting it to George Martin (EMI) on 13th February 1962 in his desperate attempt to get them a recording contract. This meeting, despite Martin's initial reticence, was to eventually lead to the breakthrough they were looking for. The disc was later given to The Fourmost to record their own version of Hello Little Girl (recorded 3 July 1963) and then to Les Maguire of Gerry & The Pacemakers (recorded Hello Little Girl 17th July 1963). This is the first time it has come to the marketplace, having been tucked away in Maguire's loft until now. Epstein's handwriting on the labels reads as follows: side 1 Hullo Little Girl, John Lennon & The Beatles, Lennon,McCartney' and side 2 'Til' There Was You Paul McCartney & The Beatles'.

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Auctioning off a Rainbow Dash stratocaster-ish guitar for charity

The Dashcaster is a six-string electric guitar themed after My Little Pony's Rainbow Dash, up for auction on Ebay with 40% of funds to benefit Shriners Hospitals. (via Neatorama) Read the rest

Why auction winners are losers

The winner’s curse: "The winner of an auction tends to be one of those who form the highest estimate of an item’s value — and hence one of those most at risk of overpaying." Read the rest

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