Collector Articles and Tips
The best collector is an educated one. The Educated Collector
will feature information about antique and collectible objects
to help collectors learn more about what they collect. Each
column will give a brief history of a particular type of antique
or collectible, known makers, and something about the market
Best Collector is an Educated One
by Bob Brooke
a collector collects for pleasure or investment, he or she
must develop an "eye" and a "feel" for
good, authentic examples of a chosen antique or collectible.
the vast timeline of history, collecting antiques is a relative
newcomer, having gotten its first real impetus around the
Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia in 1876. Since
then, thousands of people have collected everything from hand
tools to tea sets, from glassware to armoires. Some of these
items have historical significance. Others recall the everyday
life of ordinary people.
taste of a collector may lead to watches or clocks, China
teapots, toy trains, furniture, jewelry, silver, and any number
of ceramic and pottery pieces. The lucky acquisition of an
admired piece may lead to a determination to get more of the
same, or at least to find out more about the object. Curiosity
is a collector's strongest character trait.
American collectors are as diverse as the things they collect.
They're people of every age and character, from every educational,
social and economic level. They collect everything from highboys
to paperweights. And even though they're all individualists,
they all have in common an inquiring, acquisitive, and compelling
interest in items of the past.
best of these collectors is an educated one. They had to learn
to have an "eye" and a "feel" for good,
authentic examples of his or her chosen antique or collectible-to
recognize an authentic piece and learn how it should feel.
Glassware is a good example. Old pieces have a crispness to
their edges not found on new ones. Depression glass collectors
need to improve their sense of touch since manufacturers signed
virtually no pieces and many of the patterns have since been
are many ways collectors can learn about antiques. The most
obvious is by reading books-especially those on particular
kinds of antiques, price guides, and antique encyclopedias.
Collectors can also find information about what they collect
in antiques newspapers like AntiqueWeek and magazines like
Southeastern Antiques and Collectibles.
antique collecting is a hands-on avocation. While visiting
museums and historic houses can help increase a collector's
knowledge of how objects have been used in the past, neither
allows visitors to touch pieces. However, the information
gained from such visits is immeasurable. It's here that a
collector learns to discern real antiques in a historical
learn how an antique or collectible feels, a collector needs
to visit antique shows and shops. At the former, the collector
will usually find knowledgeable dealers, many of whom are
specialists who only do shows. Most are more than willing
to share the knowledge of their specialty.
not all antique dealers are as knowledgeable as most people
believe. While higher-end dealers make it their business to
know the provenance, or history, of items they're selling,
lower-end dealers concentrate on the selling part of the antiques
trade, satisfied to move pieces quickly without knowing much
about their history.
short, the better informed a collector is about what he or
she collects, the better chance of buying additional pieces
at prices below their market value-uncovering real bargains.
The bottom line in antique collecting is to buy low and hopefully
sell high, but that usually doesn't occur until after holding
onto items for at least 10 years.
an avid collector of a variety of antiques and collectibles
for the last 20 years, Bob Brooke knows what he's writing
about. Beginning with one modest English writing box, he's
developed a variety of collections. Besides writing about
antiques, specializing in furniture, Brooke has also sold
at flea markets and worked in an antique shop, so he knows
the business side, too. He's a regular feature writer for
AntiqueWeek, and also writes for a number of other publications
and Web sites, including British Heritage, Southeastern Antiquing
and Collecting Magazine, OldandSold.com, and many others.
URLs: The Antiques Almanac - www.theantiquesalmanac.com
Writing at Its Best - www.bobbrooke.com