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Selling Dead People’s Things is a wry, behind-the-curtain peek into the world of antiques and their obsessive owners—while still alive and after their passing. An amusing observer of the human condition, author Duane Scott Cerny entertains in twenty-five life illuminating, scary, sad, or frightfully funny resale tales and essays. “You just can’t say to the bereaved, ‘I’m sor Selling Dead People’s Things is a wry, behind-the-curtain peek into the world of antiques and their obsessive owners—while still alive and after their passing. An amusing observer of the human condition, author Duane Scott Cerny entertains in twenty-five life illuminating, scary, sad, or frightfully funny resale tales and essays. “You just can’t say to the bereaved, ‘I’m sorry for your loss, but are those crucifixes for sale?’ (Well, you can, but it’s how you say it.)” Whether processing the estate of a hoarding beekeeper, disassembling the retro remains of an infamous haunted hospital, or conducting an impromptu appraisal during a shiva gone disturbingly wrong, every day is a twisted treasure hunt for this twenty-first century antiques dealer. “Like it or knot the noose, but everyone is an estate sale waiting to happen.” While digging deep into the basements, attics, and souls of the most interesting collectors imaginable, traveling from one odd house call to the curious next, resale predicaments will confound your every turn. So be careful where you step, watch what you touch, and gird your heart—Antiques Roadshow, this ain’t!


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Selling Dead People’s Things is a wry, behind-the-curtain peek into the world of antiques and their obsessive owners—while still alive and after their passing. An amusing observer of the human condition, author Duane Scott Cerny entertains in twenty-five life illuminating, scary, sad, or frightfully funny resale tales and essays. “You just can’t say to the bereaved, ‘I’m sor Selling Dead People’s Things is a wry, behind-the-curtain peek into the world of antiques and their obsessive owners—while still alive and after their passing. An amusing observer of the human condition, author Duane Scott Cerny entertains in twenty-five life illuminating, scary, sad, or frightfully funny resale tales and essays. “You just can’t say to the bereaved, ‘I’m sorry for your loss, but are those crucifixes for sale?’ (Well, you can, but it’s how you say it.)” Whether processing the estate of a hoarding beekeeper, disassembling the retro remains of an infamous haunted hospital, or conducting an impromptu appraisal during a shiva gone disturbingly wrong, every day is a twisted treasure hunt for this twenty-first century antiques dealer. “Like it or knot the noose, but everyone is an estate sale waiting to happen.” While digging deep into the basements, attics, and souls of the most interesting collectors imaginable, traveling from one odd house call to the curious next, resale predicaments will confound your every turn. So be careful where you step, watch what you touch, and gird your heart—Antiques Roadshow, this ain’t!

30 review for Selling Dead People's Things: Inexplicably True Tales, Vintage Fails & Objects of Objectionable Estates

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Being female, I believe that this book has brought me the closest to understanding erectile dysfunction as I will ever get; I just couldn't keep it up. Each reading attempt inevitably found both me and my Kindle fast asleep. I struggled through to chapter 16 and finally gave up, adding the title to my DNF list. While I actually enjoyed the stories (that I managed to read), the writing style left something to be desired. For me, the book felt like it was written in pieces and then just squished t Being female, I believe that this book has brought me the closest to understanding erectile dysfunction as I will ever get; I just couldn't keep it up. Each reading attempt inevitably found both me and my Kindle fast asleep. I struggled through to chapter 16 and finally gave up, adding the title to my DNF list. While I actually enjoyed the stories (that I managed to read), the writing style left something to be desired. For me, the book felt like it was written in pieces and then just squished together quickly to form a book. Most chapters were in first person, but then oddly a few were third person with a few paragraphs of first person narrative within the third person chapter. Being categorized as a biography/memoir, this was very confusing to me. I would not recommend this book unless you are in need of some reading induced narcolepsy. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read this book. I've always had an interest in antiques and the people that inhabit the antiques world, without owning anything of real note myself. Well I understand the need of the collector, to fill that void with things! To complete a set, even if you don't know it when you begin. I loved reading about Duane and his various encounters, although there were times I wished more was explained and the stories didn't jump around so much. I Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read this book. I've always had an interest in antiques and the people that inhabit the antiques world, without owning anything of real note myself. Well I understand the need of the collector, to fill that void with things! To complete a set, even if you don't know it when you begin. I loved reading about Duane and his various encounters, although there were times I wished more was explained and the stories didn't jump around so much. I am such a complete noob to antiques (haha!) that I needed more information on what made things valuable/why. All I know is books from my own personal experience and working in Op Shops. There are some real gems of stories here, but I admit some held my attention better than others. I liked the comical way Duane described some situations, even if I wasn't sure if they were the same quality as some of the other stories; for example I greatly enjoyed the story of the older lady with the mysterious item for sale, but not so much the Ventriloquist at the party story or the cleaning up the hoarder's house. Still though, I think the good stories outweighed the bad, and maybe the stories I didn't enjoy as much will appeal to others. All I can say at the finish is; I want more! More stories, more explanations and that isn't a bad thing. Second book in a row where I've felt like the author has more to say and should publish another book. Really enjoyable, five stars!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robin Bonne

    Being a vintage/antique reseller myself, the premise of this book drew me in. I love the bizarre stories other resellers tell and this memoir did not disappoint. The author details his journey, with the highs and lows, into the world of vintage. He started working at a fast turnover Chicago antique mall, designing displays and curating a basement booth. He describes what it was like to sell in the time before the internet, which is similar to the stories I have heard the old timers mumble about Being a vintage/antique reseller myself, the premise of this book drew me in. I love the bizarre stories other resellers tell and this memoir did not disappoint. The author details his journey, with the highs and lows, into the world of vintage. He started working at a fast turnover Chicago antique mall, designing displays and curating a basement booth. He describes what it was like to sell in the time before the internet, which is similar to the stories I have heard the old timers mumble about the “good old days” of antique selling. From there, he hits some bumps in the road, and it is interesting how he manages to recover. He comes across a poltergeist, fun picker friends, and has a hell of a few stories to tell about the odd world of vintage resale. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    This was the perfect summer read, especially with it being estate sale and flea market season. As someone who lives in chicago and has been doing the vintage hunt in this city, it was great to get more intimate stories about the cities more eccentric history. You don’t just have to live here to appreciate the experiences, of you love the hunt and satisfaction of looking for vintage and antiques, this book is for you.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Judy Sheluk

    You can't judge a book by it's cover, so I was willing to overlook the absolutely horrible cover and really hoped I would enjoy this collection of short essays -- or that it would live up to its somewhat off-putting title. Instead, I found it to be more of a memoir than a look inside the estate sales business. That would have been fine -- Cerny has led an interesting, entrepreneurial life -- except the stories are an uneven mix of present tense and past tense, some are chronological, some are no You can't judge a book by it's cover, so I was willing to overlook the absolutely horrible cover and really hoped I would enjoy this collection of short essays -- or that it would live up to its somewhat off-putting title. Instead, I found it to be more of a memoir than a look inside the estate sales business. That would have been fine -- Cerny has led an interesting, entrepreneurial life -- except the stories are an uneven mix of present tense and past tense, some are chronological, some are not. The end result was a collection that was hard to connect with. In addition, the author's attempt at humor often falls flat -- he's just trying too hard to be funny. That said, there are a few enjoyable tales in here: if you're willing to overlook the poor editing and haphazard compilation, you might well enjoy this look inside one man's life in the vintage/antiques business. *I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Cerny, who is a professional antiques buyer and estate liquidator, offers behind the scenes glimpses of the material worlds people leave when they die: their hoarding, secret hobbies, sexual habits, financial secrets and guilty pleasures. Not all the short essays are winners, but there are a couple of gems, probably much like most estate sales.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Keith Chawgo

    Duane Scott Cerny debut of vignettes of his life and interests in antique world is a treasure trove of very funny and often heart felt memories gather together in one volume. The author has an incredible wit that lends itself to the material and has a talent for displaying these within the pages. This is an ideal find for any reader who is looking at real life experiences and dealing with people on a day to day basis. It shows craftsmanship to be able to tell these stories without falling into th Duane Scott Cerny debut of vignettes of his life and interests in antique world is a treasure trove of very funny and often heart felt memories gather together in one volume. The author has an incredible wit that lends itself to the material and has a talent for displaying these within the pages. This is an ideal find for any reader who is looking at real life experiences and dealing with people on a day to day basis. It shows craftsmanship to be able to tell these stories without falling into the over dramatic and he lets these people’s and stories flourish. The humour of dealing with people and their collection is told with a heart-warming reminiscence that warms the cockles of the heart. Cerny’s ability to make you see and live through these people is a real talent and he has captured this with the utmost respect even to those he doesn’t always get respect from. He chronicalises his novel from the start of his interests and takes us to the present day and even though these stories could be read as stand alone as each is very strong to be sold into magazine articles, etc, it also works as a collection which is very hard to find in books of this nature. This tells you what a deep and interesting talent Cerny is. There are a couple of stories that veer into the supernatural which are interesting and these caught me off my guard. The author steers the reader in one direction and that takes a right turn that fits within the confines of the story he is giving. Richly written, thought provoking and a must for any reader for a taste of the norm and not so norm. He captures his subject matter in their natural habitat and he will not let you go until you read the final words written. A gold mine of entertainment that I highly recommend for every and all readers. A fantastic treat.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    Ok I picked this book by its cover. Not a good move this time. The cover picture had nothing to do really with the text inside of the cover. The book was ok for what it is about. But at time is was disjointed and it seemed like Duane Cerny rambled on. Chapter 3 really made little since to me other then the fact that he would of loved there to have been a yard sale after the deaths of the sister but there was not, so why have a whole chapter on it. The book is about Duane Scott Cerny's love of vi Ok I picked this book by its cover. Not a good move this time. The cover picture had nothing to do really with the text inside of the cover. The book was ok for what it is about. But at time is was disjointed and it seemed like Duane Cerny rambled on. Chapter 3 really made little since to me other then the fact that he would of loved there to have been a yard sale after the deaths of the sister but there was not, so why have a whole chapter on it. The book is about Duane Scott Cerny's love of vintage, antiques, and thift stores. I love all 3 things as well. He is a collector and seller of as the book is named Dead People's Things. His love for vintage started as a child, on his front porch buying, selling, and trading his friends old cast off toys. The book follows him from Childhood to adulthood and his life long hobby and career in the 2nd hand business. I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    Duane Scott Cerny is an antiques dealer, and one whose name I am shocked hasn't come up more often in all of my mid-century meanderings. In this series of loosely connected essays, Cerny describes how he came to be the owner of Broadway Antiques Market in Chicago (formerly Wrigleyville Antique Mall, also in Chicago) after his humble beginnings as a schoolboy dealing in Playboy ephemera. He is a skilled antiques dealer with a keen eye, and his stories about a wide variety of estate sales, apprais Duane Scott Cerny is an antiques dealer, and one whose name I am shocked hasn't come up more often in all of my mid-century meanderings. In this series of loosely connected essays, Cerny describes how he came to be the owner of Broadway Antiques Market in Chicago (formerly Wrigleyville Antique Mall, also in Chicago) after his humble beginnings as a schoolboy dealing in Playboy ephemera. He is a skilled antiques dealer with a keen eye, and his stories about a wide variety of estate sales, appraisals, and colorful characters are not to be missed. There are bits of the book that could still use some polish, and I wish that Cerny spent less time telling sort-of ghost stories and talking taxidermy or Eames chairs (though a few of the ghost stories are wonderful), but overall, this is a book that is worth reading if you are a collector of just about any sort. I received access to this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lisabeth

    Cerny, who is a professional antiques buyer and estate liquidator, offers behind the scenes glimpses of the material worlds people leave when they die: their hoarding, secret hobbies, sexual habits, financial secrets and guilty pleasures. Not all the short essays are winners, but there are a couple of gems, probably much like most estate sales.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    Review to come

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I couldn't wait to request "Selling Dead People's Things" after reading the blurb. My love of antiques and second hand stores - any book revolving around them, be it nonfiction or a murder mystery (think Garage Sale mysteries) gets my attention. From the introduction, I was hooked. The voice grabbed me from the beginning to the end. As I started his book and found out that he is from Chicago, I was reminded of one of my favorite movies, While You Were Sleeping" - the family business motto "We bu I couldn't wait to request "Selling Dead People's Things" after reading the blurb. My love of antiques and second hand stores - any book revolving around them, be it nonfiction or a murder mystery (think Garage Sale mysteries) gets my attention. From the introduction, I was hooked. The voice grabbed me from the beginning to the end. As I started his book and found out that he is from Chicago, I was reminded of one of my favorite movies, While You Were Sleeping" - the family business motto "We buy dead people's furniture". We all gather stuff throughout our lives and all of our stuff makes sense to us. For those who come after us, having the task of dealing with that stuff, it's usually a big mystery, food for thought. A glimpse that leads to so much speculation. It can be a bit confusing if you, the reader, picked up this volume and expected it to be written as one fluid story/memoir. It's a bit choppy from one chapter to the next until you get used to the reason - it's stories strung together, each one to be enjoyed, savored and on to the next one. Yes, some are better than others but, then, aren't the chapters of anyone's life the same way? What one comes away with is we all have stuff, it's all a mystery as to why we had the stuff and, at the end, someone like Duane Scott Cerny may come along and help our treasured stuff on its journey. Whether it's political buttons that tell an entire life story known to a few before Duane came along to hear it told or others that will puzzle people and let them imagine the stories these items can never speak, this book was a pleasure to read. If I lived in Chicago I'd be a regular customer, happy to let other peoples treasures hint at their stories. My thanks to the publisher Thunderground Press and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    3.75 stars I really enjoyed this collection of stories. What really surprised me from the start was just how far back he was willing to write about - from his childhood beginnings in reselling items that were no longer wanted. I think that the depth given to the stories about certain objects, not just Cerny’s connection but the people who used to own the objects and their own stories made it more than a random list of objects that could otherwise be considered “junk”. With that in mind, there wer 3.75 stars I really enjoyed this collection of stories. What really surprised me from the start was just how far back he was willing to write about - from his childhood beginnings in reselling items that were no longer wanted. I think that the depth given to the stories about certain objects, not just Cerny’s connection but the people who used to own the objects and their own stories made it more than a random list of objects that could otherwise be considered “junk”. With that in mind, there were a few stories/items were I wouldn’t have thought twice about them being some random item at a tag/estate sale, but the stories that Cerny provided also makes the reader more introspective to the items people value and what makes something more important. I lowered the rating because a few of the stories dragged a bit for me - this being more of a personal matter rather than something inherently wrong with the text. I would go into this acknowledging that not all stories will be the readers favorites, but there are a whole bunch that will. Also, the cover, while pretty interesting and one of the first things that drew me into this book, is a bit of false advertising. While the stories do mention owners who had passed away, there wasn’t a “horror-y” vibe like the cover art would suggest. Final notes: Told in first person narration style, with third person storytelling [if that makes any sense at all…] The cover doesn’t match the feel you get from the stories [not horror] Inclusive of all personal background [LGBT*]

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    An engaging, witty, and often poignant memoir of life in the selling business. Cerny began dealing in desired goods at a young age, thanks to his dad's connections to Playboy magazine, and from there developed the famous BAM in Chicago, an antiques shop full of wonders and delights, particularly mid-century modern furniture. Cerny tells tales of pieces he bought and sold, pieces he couldn't buy, and pieces he couldn't wait to get rid of--the later category including a variety of haunted objects. An engaging, witty, and often poignant memoir of life in the selling business. Cerny began dealing in desired goods at a young age, thanks to his dad's connections to Playboy magazine, and from there developed the famous BAM in Chicago, an antiques shop full of wonders and delights, particularly mid-century modern furniture. Cerny tells tales of pieces he bought and sold, pieces he couldn't buy, and pieces he couldn't wait to get rid of--the later category including a variety of haunted objects. My only quarrel with the book is the cover design. I'd give this book to everyone I know who's ever been interested in collecting, old stuff, or Chicago history, but the gruesome cover will be a turn off to a lot of potential readers.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Hill

    Duane Cerny takes us on a walk through his vintage sales and adventures in digging through the lives of those who have passed. While some of the many people are simply looking for extra cash to get through the tough times in the lives, most are families who are overwhelmed with the many "treasures" that were accumulated over a lifetime. This was a walk through the funny, the spine-tingling, and sad lives of those who collected, stored, and then - left everything behind for the next person to go t Duane Cerny takes us on a walk through his vintage sales and adventures in digging through the lives of those who have passed. While some of the many people are simply looking for extra cash to get through the tough times in the lives, most are families who are overwhelmed with the many "treasures" that were accumulated over a lifetime. This was a walk through the funny, the spine-tingling, and sad lives of those who collected, stored, and then - left everything behind for the next person to go through and make the best of. This was a good book. There were a few things that kind of downed the book for me a bit, but overall I found it enjoyable and funny to read through.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bella

    I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review through Netgalley I appreciated the book for it's entertaining tidbits however I would have preferred the book to be in chronological order. I was very confused on chapter 16 with the writing desk as it felt different from the entire book as though it had been done at a totally different time than the rest of the book. I still don't get why he kept hanging up on her, it was just odd and did not fit in with the rest of the book. The glimpses int I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review through Netgalley I appreciated the book for it's entertaining tidbits however I would have preferred the book to be in chronological order. I was very confused on chapter 16 with the writing desk as it felt different from the entire book as though it had been done at a totally different time than the rest of the book. I still don't get why he kept hanging up on her, it was just odd and did not fit in with the rest of the book. The glimpses into the world of estate sales and antiques was intriguing and it is a book I would recommend to people I know who enjoy going to flea markets and in general the stories behind objects.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tammy Buchli

    Very entertaining book of vignettes and essays about life as a dealer of antiques and vintage items. It was equal parts funny and poignant and was written in a breezy, colloquial voice that I found very engaging. As with all such collections, some pieces worked better than others, but I enjoyed the book as a whole very much and have added the author's store in Chicago to my list of places to visit. This review was based on an ARC ebook received in return for an honest and unbiased review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I truly loved this book, the cover alone drew me in, but I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I was able to read this, I read it in 2 days. All the chapters were different but had interesting stories, chapter 21 was my favourite. I would've love to see actual photos of that huge apartment before it ended up getting divided up. I think the only thing missing in my opinion is photos to go with some of the chapters. I’d like to thank netgalley and thunderground press for an advance ecopy in excha I truly loved this book, the cover alone drew me in, but I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I was able to read this, I read it in 2 days. All the chapters were different but had interesting stories, chapter 21 was my favourite. I would've love to see actual photos of that huge apartment before it ended up getting divided up. I think the only thing missing in my opinion is photos to go with some of the chapters. I’d like to thank netgalley and thunderground press for an advance ecopy in exchange for my honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melise Gerber

    I received an advanced reading copy from NetGalley and Thunderground Press. Thanks! This was a quick, enjoyable read. The author owns an antique mall business, and sells mid-century modern decor and furniture. This book is a collection of stories about his experiences finding and selling vintage items. It is well-written and the stories are quite interesting. All in all a fun read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Uttaro

    Could not stand the narrative voice.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Edward H Bogle

  22. 5 out of 5

    Calley D. Callahan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anya

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Allison

  26. 4 out of 5

    susan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tara

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura N

    I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Selling Dead People's Things is a collection of essays written by antique extrodinaire Duane Scott Cerny. Each one is its own story and gives readers a peek into the suprising world of antique buying and estate liquidating. Despite years of going to estate sales and visiting qntique stores, I had never given much thought to the other side of the counter-to the people selling the occupied Japan figurines and bo I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Selling Dead People's Things is a collection of essays written by antique extrodinaire Duane Scott Cerny. Each one is its own story and gives readers a peek into the suprising world of antique buying and estate liquidating. Despite years of going to estate sales and visiting qntique stores, I had never given much thought to the other side of the counter-to the people selling the occupied Japan figurines and books to me. As it turns out, their world is incredibily unique. Cerny shares his struggles and successes--and his just plain weird experiences in an engaging and funny manner. To be honest, I almost put the book down after the third or fourth chapter because it wasn't quite what I expected. But I kept reading and I am glad that I did. One or two chapters seemed to miss the mark, but overall I really enjoyed Selling Dead People's Things.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

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