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In this new periodic feature, Bob Brooke offers personal insights into the world of antiques and antiques collecting.

LATEST EXTRA!_______________________________________

Quality Over Quantity
by Bob Brooke


 

An old sage once said, ďOne object is a possession. Two or more is a collection.Ē Collecting, especially collecting antiques, can be addictive. The love of antiques and collectibles can dominate a collectorís life. Once a collector begins buying, he or she tends to keep going and going and going. What results is a massive collection of all sorts of antiques. Most people canít resist the desire to keep buying and buying.

Itís the buying and admiring of unique and beautiful things from the past that gives the collector great pleasure. But while buying lots of objects satisfies this desire, obtaining a few choice pieces is far better than lots of lesser ones.

In the beginning, I purchased just about every item that I liked. This was because I didnít know enough about what I was collecting and bought indiscriminately. About the only thing that limited me was the lack of enough money to continue. But in this instance, I bought less expensive pieces which meant lesser quality ones. Unfortunately, lesser quality items donít usually appreciate in value, at least not as much as higher quality ones.

I sought out quantity, not quality when I should have been doing the opposite. But I didnít realize that until a couple of years had passed. By then, I found myself buried in antiques. I had collected in so many areas, and purchased so many pieces, that there wasn't room to display anything properly. By that time, I discovered that I was unable to complete any of my collections. I couldn't possibly gather a "complete" collection of anything, Because I was collecting so many different things.

Since I learned from my mistakes, Iíve turned the situation around. Iíve sold many of the inferior examples and replaced them with better pieces. Due to a lack of display and storage space, Iíve had to narrow my collecting interests. It just wasn't possible for me to collect everything I liked, so I picked my favorites and stuck with them. As a result, I started developing small, higher quality collections.

I discovered several advantages to going the higher quality route. I soon realized that I was doing much better from an investment standpoint since choice pieces appreciate in value more quickly than more common ones. As I began focusing my available funds on a few, more expensive items, the value of my collections rose faster than ever.



As I mentioned above, display and storage space quickly became a problem for me. My collection of Satsuma-style ware, the largest I have, now approaches several hundred objects of varying sizes. This has forced me to display only a portion of the collection at a time, storing the remainder in boxes.

People who collect clocks, for example, quickly realize that having too many not only produces display problems but takes time winding and maintaining them. Purchasing several quality pieces, rather than purchasing a number of them, helps alleviate both problems.

And when it comes time to sell items from a collection, quality antiques have the advantage. Buyers looking to buy more common pieces have a number of opportunities, but those purchasing more expensive items will be looking in perhaps one or two places. So if I should ever want to sell one of my better pieces, I shouldnít have a problem finding buyers.

However, I didnít waste my money on the pieces I have acquired. I can always sell off the more common piecesóthough it may take some timeóand use the funds gained from them to purchase better ones, thus upgrading my collections. To do this, I periodically take inventory of what I have and set aside those pieces I want to dispose of.

One thing I learned a long time ago is that itís very important to get rid of pieces that need repair or are in a state of deterioration. Once a piece gets to a point that itís beyond repair, itís value will plummet. Itís better to sell it and use the money to buy a better one. This happened with a papier machť writing slope that was part of my collection of writing boxes. At the time, my house was rather damp and this began affecting it. So rather than try to stop the deterioration, I sold it for a little over what I paid for it. While I didnít make a huge profit, I didnít lose any money, either.

Another problem occurs when a collector buys too many expensive pieces in the beginning, thinking that he or she can always purchase the less expensive ones later. While I didnít do this with my Satsuma-style ware, I discovered that all the pieces began to skyrocket in price, whether they were of poorer or better quality. So common pieces I had purchased for a few dollars were three or four times that now.

Donít get me wrong. Itís a good idea to purchase a few common pieces in the beginning. This allows a novice collector to learn about a new collecting area while keeping financial risk to a minimum. Aiming for quality pieces in the beginning can lead to expensive mistakes. Itís important to test the waters before taking a major plunge.

Finally, itís very important to be selective. Pay attention to condition. I have a small collection of tea bowlsóhandleless tea cups and saucers from the 19th century. The prices of those in perfect condition are stratospheric, way out of my budget range. So I look for ones that may have a slight crack or some other imperfection. While I donít find them very often, I have managed to find enough to build a nice little collection.

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How to Recognize and Refinish Antiques for Pleasure and Profit

Book: How to Recognizing and Refinishing Antiques for Pleasure and Profit
Have you ever bought an antique or collectible that was less than perfect and needed some TLC? Bob's new book offers tips and step-by- step instructions for simple maintenance and restoration of common antiques.

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