|By Eric C. Rodenberg
EDINBURGH, Ind. – Pickers always remember.
Location matters little. Whether they’re American Pickers or Europa Antiques, they always remember that “defining moment” when they chose their lot in life.
For European Picker Marcellino van Hoof it was nearly 40 years ago; a cold, gray morning in Belgium. Dressed in his new, handmade blue business suit, with the cuffs barely hiding his wooden Dutch shoes, Marcellino was left at his father’s booth at the foot of a great castle towering above the flea market.
Marcellino’s dad, Harry, was an old hand in the antiques business and knew most of the vendors at the antique flea market. Harry felt comfortable leaving his 7-year-old son at the booth; after all Marcellino had helped purchase much of the inventory on their many picking trips throughout northwestern Europe.
“Dad had a very nice Delft-blue vase,” van Hoof recalls. “It was a pretty piece, an older one and he wanted 800 Belgian francs on the piece. A gentleman came up to the booth, and expressed interest in the piece. I showed it to him, we talked and I ended up selling it for 1,200 francs.”
Upon returning, his father immediately noted that the vase had sold. “I gave him his 800 francs,” van Hoof said. “Then I said, ’I have a little left over for me.’ He couldn’t believe I sold it for that much … he was very pleased.”
Hence, van Hoof not only won the approval of his father; but, officially marked his entrance into a lifelong profession (and obsession) as a picker.
From there, van Hoof rarely looked back. Immediately after getting his driver’s license (18 years old in Europe), van Hoof was driving into Paris “picking” at the great antiques markets. Hitting the Paris markets while still dark, van Hoof was loading his car up throughout Saturday with antique clocks, statues, furniture … whatever he thought would sell back in The Netherlands.