CINCINNATI -- Third-generation Cincinnati jewelry store owner Lee Krombholz will be logging into the Everything But the House every day starting Wednesday when his family's second estate auction hits the Internet. He's curious to see how much action his 1974 Lambretta motor scooter and his mother's Victorian glass Christmas ornaments will attract.
Perhaps he'll do a little math along the way, tracking the bids as they start at $1 and go up -- and then subtracting the 40 percent that will be EBTH's payment.
Krombholz understands that most online auction businesses take 20-25 percent off the top of their sales, but after experiencing EBTH's crew curate and photograph the hundreds of items his family is liquidating from their estate, he is convinced the extra premium he is paying is worth it.
"When you see a person working in your parents' house for two months, there's no surprise it's going to cost you something," Krombholz said. "They work really hard for that."
Krombholz's parents, Herb Jr. and Mary, passed away in the last two years, leaving behind a lifetime of antiques and collectibles their son said probably could fill a 2,500-square-foot house. That's not counting his grandfather’s guns and beer steins, his father's antique cars and his mother's world-class collection of antique dolls that were sold along with Shirley Temple's dolls at a New York auction a year-and-a-half ago, Krombholz said.
"Their (1955 traditional house in Indian Hill) was filled, but they weren't hoarders," he said of his parents. “They definitely curated everything."
He's happy to have an option for finding new homes for his parents' items.
"In the old days before Everything But the House, when you ended up with a house full of stuff, the challenge would've been what to do with it," Krombolz said. He had the chance to go through his parents’ collections with his father before he died in 2016, which helped Krombholz pull out sentimental items to save. But there were boxes and boxes of stuff that had to go.
"My sister really didn't want anything, and my daughter is not in a house yet, so she didn't need a lot. My wife and I had collected a lot of stuff and had a house full it," he said. Having sold engagement rings to old family friends and EBTH executives Andy and Jon Nielsen, Krombholz turned to them for help.
The first Krombholz auction, which ended April 24, included 351 lots, all of which started at $1 and all of which sold. The items included antique clocks and furniture, silver utensils and bowls, vintage musical instruments, Victorian ephemera, Edwardian clothing and linens, Rookwood Pottery vases and selected art from the Krombholzes' collection.
The most valuable item -- and Krombholz said he believes auctions do achieve the current value of things -- turned out to be a late 19th-century Regina Music Box made in Thetford, Vermont. The box and 47 metal disc records stored in it drew 49 bids and sold for $5,100.
"That music box was one of my grandfather's pride and joy," Krombholz said. "I remember he would always wind it up and play the latest antique disc he found at a show."
It made sense to Krombholz that the music box stayed in the family so long. While holding an old Big Ben bedside clock produced in mass by Westclox in the first quarter of the 20th century, he explained that jewelers are known for tinkering with mechanical devices, clocks, watches and music boxes included.
"My father showed promise of being mechanical when he took apart a Big Ben at 8 years old," Krombholz said.
Herb Krombholz Jr. went on to attend a watch-making school in downtown Cincinnati. He became a metal worker and frequented Herb Krombholz Jewelry, named after and founded in Silverton in 1941 by Lee's grandfather. The shop moved to Olde Montgomery in the 1970s and today is located on Shelly Lane. When he died, Herb Krombholz Jr. had a collection of about 150 clocks, his son said.
Mary Kreveling Krombholz could trace her family back to the Mayflower. Her father, Henry Clay Kreveling, was a mining engineer who unearthed many antiquities that he shared with his daughter. Sick and homebound for much of his later life, Kreveling took to collecting stamps and researching his genealogy. Curiosity became a family thing, and collecting meshed with it well.
Mary fell in love with history, in particular the Victorian Era, her son said. The Great Depression taught her not to throw anything away, which fed her lifelong collection of Victorian dolls. She traveled to Germany to visit old doll-manufacturing factories and became expert enough to be a well known doll appraiser and author of seven books on antique dolls, Lee Krombholz said.
It's no wonder he became a collector, too. Yet the one item of his in the upcoming EBTH Krombholz might be most curious about is not something that's not part of a collection -- that mustard-colored 200cc Italian scooter.
"It was top of the line," Krombholz said of the 1974 scooter. "I've have it for 30 years but have ridden it only a couple of times. I know there's a guy in Colorado that is looking for just that one bike, so there'll be some intrigue around the country for it."