McCOOK, Nebraska -- After a health scare in 2010, Dave Stanzel of Bartley, Nebraska, took stock of his life. And he decided to let go of some stuff -- actually, a lot of stuff, two storage sheds full.
An almost life-time accumulation of collectibles will be auctioned off Saturday at the Red Willow County Fairgrounds, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Because of the number of items, two rings will be going simultaneously by Youngs Auctioneer Service, with one ring for furniture and the other, for collectibles.
For Stanzel, it's time. "I used to come out and look at this stuff," he laughed. But now, things have changed.
His perspective on life took a 180 when his heart nearly put him into the big auction house in the sky.
After that happened, "It changed me, I was ready to let it go," he said.
Parting with his collectibles is not as hard as he imagined it would be. In fact, he's looking forward to it. "I thought I'd be more attached to it, but I'm not."
Stanzel said he's had the "collectors bug" since setting up his first table at a flea market at age 10. Through the years, Stanzel has been scouring garage sales, thrift stores, auctions and eBay for special finds, then re-selling the items.
Jewelry is hot right now, he said, especially designer costume jewelry by Coro or Eisenberg.
"It looks kinda kinda funny, scruffy old me buying jewelry," Stanzel laughed.
The key to buying collectibles is to know your stuff, he said. "I'll go to a thrift store and see a piece of Roseville worth $150, selling for five bucks," he said. "I'll tell the clerk and they do one of two things - either they'll take it back to reprice, or they'll say to me, "You got a good deal." Another time, he bought a western painting from a garage sale for $30, only to find out later it was done by Howard Leo Barnett, a noted Western artist from Colorado.
Just about everything imaginable will be at the auction, with objects spanning the decades, including Civil War paper items, vintage antique glassware and a Tim Tebow autograph.
Then there are the antique Christmas decorations, books, lamps, china and glass from the 1920s through the 70s, vintage cigar boxes and tins, World War II uniforms and more than 100,000 baseball cards, several worth hundreds of dollars, that he wants to hand off to another card enthusiast.
His favorites are the items with area historical significance, such as local business advertisements on thermometers, matchbooks, calendar and ashtrays.
Recently, he purchased from eBay an original 1882 plat map of the City of McCook, made by the Lincoln Land Co. that is in the process being authenticated. He said he plans to donate that to the McCook museum, which he has done with other similar items he's found in the past. "Those kind of things, they belong to the community," he said.
Stanzel hopes the auction will pay off some of the medical debt he has incurred and also enable him to relocate to Oklahoma, to be with his father who is in bad health. But how the auction will go on Saturday is anyone's guess, he said. "You never know what will happen. Something worth $50 will bring $1 or a piece of junk will bring $200."
Thanks to his wife, Stanzel calls himself a super collector and not a hoarder. "Thank God I have a wife who wouldn't let it go that far," he said. "She hates clutter."
It's hard to kick the "collectors bug," Stanzel admitted, who's not quite ready to give it up entirely. "I think I will just be more reasonable collector from now on."