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    Auction Finds

    Autographed photo of Nat King Cole

    It was like digging for buried treasure. The auctioneer had already passed the long row of pictures propped against an outside wall of the garage. Nobody wanted any of them, not even for $2.

    I was one of those “nobody who wanted it” on this day. I had looked casually through the too-many reproduction prints and figured that there was nothing worthy of my time. As I waited for something interesting to come up, I decided to go through the pictures again, this time more thoroughly. I’ve been to auctions long enough to know that sometimes the best stuff is hidden and stays hidden because no one wants to get their hands dirty.

    So I dug in, pulling one picture after another from atop the one behind it. The long row wasn’t giving up anything, and much of what I saw was junk.

    Nat King Cole's autograph on a photo from the Paulie Teardrop estate. It looked authentic.

    The pictures were among a variety of items being sold at auction from the estate of an Atlantic City entertainer named Paulie Teardrop. Paul Ciaurella and his brother Tony performed as the Teardrops starting in the 1950s, according to a 2008 story in Shore News Today. They played the Copacabana in New York, Las Vegas and then Atlantic City. They shared the stage with many celebrities, the newspaper said, while others came to see their show.

    The Teardrops made more than 20 albums. Tony died in 1980 and Paulie moved to Atlantic City four years later, playing his guitar at the Primavera restaurant in Caesar’s Atlantic City. Paulie died in January.

    The pictures at auction were at the back of the house, along with tables and boxes filled with flea-market items. As I moved along the row of pictures, I came across a plastic sleeve with thick over-sized vintage photos of a couple and their wedding party.

    I sat on my haunches removing paper items from the sleeve as another auction-goer stood over me watching. There were some pencil drawings signed by Paul Ciaurel (I assume this was Paulie Teardrop); a photo of a 1924 all-girl graduating class at PS 168 school; a souvenir menu for Picciolo Italian restaurant in Miami Beach, with so many stains that it looked like someone had eaten on top of it, along with three posters for a Feb. 25 American Bandstand performance by the Teardrops singing their latest recording “Bridge of Love.”

    And then I came to it: A laminated autographed photo of Nat King Cole. The man standing over me was excited as I was about my find, but I was more worried that he’d bid against me for it.

    This autographed photo of Nat King Cole was among a group of items in a plastic sleeve at an estate auction.

    It was signed “To the Teardrops Best of Luck Nat King Cole.” The photo was accompanied by a copy that someone had made of it. The autograph looked authentic.

    I carefully placed the photo and copy back into the sleeve along with the rest of the papers, and watched it vigilantly, afraid that someone else would discover it. I waited until the auctioneer had finished selling items inside a shed and asked him to re-bid the entire row of junk artwork. I didn’t single out the Nat King Cole photo for fear that other bidders alerted to it would jack up the price.

    The auctioneer – happy that someone actually wanted the stuff – started the bidding at $2, I accepted it and no one else bidded against me, not even the man who had seen me take the photo from the sleeve. “I hope you take it all,” the auctioneer said, hopefully. He just wanted it sold and moved so he and the staff wouldn’t have to carry it back into the house.

    I quickly took the sleeve of papers and left the other pictures behind. In researching, I found Nat King Cole autographs being offered for hundreds to thousands of dollars (all were not sold) on the web. I’m not sure what mine is worth – or what effect the lamination has on it. I’m just happy to have discovered it.

     

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    1 Comment

    1. so sorry to hear of Paulie’s passing. he and tony were good entertainers. i remember being 6 years old when the the teardrops played at my sister’s wedding in 1960 and every girl in the wedding hall swooned.

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