Jim Schaefer picked his way through acres of dusty valuables at the old Noteworthy office building Tuesday.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” he said. “This is the largest estate sale I’ve ever done.”
The sea of stuff was accumulated over a lifetime by local bag magnate Tom Constantino, who passed away over two decades ago.
His wife, Carol, who took over the Noteworthy company in his absence described Tom’s legacy as “larger than life.” Walking though the warehouse at the corner of Church and Prospect in Amsterdam, it’s easy to see why.
“I used to say when Tom had two or more of something, it was the beginning of a new collection,” she said.
He gathered comprehensive assortments of everything from paintings to donkey sculptures to signed baseballs. Starting Oct. 15, most of those collections will go up for sale.
For years, Carol held on to everything, storing the mass of it in one of the Noteworthy facilities. Recently she moved from Amsterdam to Florida and put her main storage location up for sale.
“It was just time to uncomplicate my life and the life of my family,” she said.
Tom spent many years gathering items at local auctions. Dispersing them back into the local population will also take some time.
Schaefer and his wife, Kim, have spent the last month sorting and pricing each item.
“It’s exhausting,” he said, estimating the total number of items at about 4,000, each one needing a price tag and some rudimentary research.
He pointed out some of his favorite pieces: a man-sized wood and copper kaleidoscope priced at $3,000, a baseball signed by Joe DiMaggio, $450, and a wall of assorted stained glass windows.
Along with the collections are small proofs or Constantino’s accomplishments. In a separate room of over 350 paintings was a signed photo of Iron Eyes Cody, whose famous portrayal of a crying Indian in the 1971 pollution prevention commercial helped carry the Noteworthy litter bag to success.
Schaefer stopped at what he called the “religion corner,” a table stacked with Kateri Tekakwitha statues and images.
“The Constantinos were instrumental in getting Kateri sainted,” he said. “They met with the Pope.”
In particular, there were four solid bronze statues of Kateri kneeling. There are only maybe a dozen in existence according to Carol. Each one is priced at a few thousand.
The sale will run through the end of the month with different rooms open at different days and is expected to net something in the six-figure range.
“It’s not priced at market value,” he said, “It’s priced to sell.”
But Carol isn’t really interested in the business end of things.
“When you turn over your estate to be sold by professional,” she explained, “they tell you not to come to the sale.”
This is supposed to prevent what she called “seller's remorse,” but it really hasn’t. Even more than 1,000 miles away, “If I see something that reminds me of something I’m giving up, I start to choke up,” she said.
Specifically, she’ll miss the many tables of Waterford crystal up for sale.
“Tom was very important to the area,” she said, “and I think a lot of people will come out to get a piece of his legacy.”
View additional images of sale items at estatesales.org.