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Top Ten Golden Rules for Buying and Collecting Antiques
Part 1

Have you ever noticed that avid collectors of anything larger than coins, stamps or postcards, seem to have much bigger houses than most of us? I can't decide whether they buy the houses to provide haven for their collections or does a huge empty house cry out to be filled with whatever takes the owners fancy?

Like many others before me, my collecting (some would say obsession) started at the age of 3 or 4 with coins, stamps, cigarette cards and key rings. Of course, also like most others before me and probably since, quantity was always infinitely preferable to quality. And so, whilst my collections grew rapidly and cheaply, their values always remained fairly constant, worthless.
Nevertheless, it was fun and laid the foundation for the discipline that would be needed in later life as my collections began to mature with my income, no doubt in a similar fashion to the way your collecting started, which is why you are even contemplating reading this.

1. The first rule is not to get over possessive about an item you purchase at an auction or an antique shop. That is to say, never become so attached to your pair or Wedgwood Fairyland lustre vases that you will never be able to part with them. Remember to become an antique, an item has grown old and probably had several owners, each who considered themselves its temporary custodian and guardian. Not that you shouldn't receive pleasure from owning something so beautiful and maybe even profit from its appreciation upon transfer. Quite the contrary, look at it, adore it, allow yourself to be enthralled by its beauty, and then let it move on, and enrich someone else's life.

2. The second rule is to find out as much as you can about what it is you are trying to collect or buy. You may already know much about your chosen field of expertise, but there is always room for updating what you know in the light of recent finds, sales and auction prices. Do your research and don't be afraid to invest in books, magazines and membership to collectors clubs, where you'll find a wealth of information that only adds to the enjoyment of what you collect.

3. Rule three covers those who only buy as a form of investment. Unless you have a proven track record, a very keen eye and deep pockets, this is really best left to the experts. Valuations can go down as well as up, just like shares. In fact, antique prices seem to be inextricably linked to share prices. When stock markets crash, antiques seem like a good deal, but watch prices tumble when world trade recovers and people want to put their money back into the markets. The secret really is to purchase the very best example of an item that you can afford. That way there is the greatest chance that its value will increase over time.

4. My fourth rule stems from the mistakes of youth and is to do with giving your collection a focus. Gravitate toward a particular manufacturer (i.e. Moorcroft), artist (Lowry), region (France), time frame (Victorian), or theme (Rugs from the Ottoman Empire). You may do this naturally after a while, or you may ignore me altogether and collect what you want.
I must admit that whilst my collecting has become more focused, just like the branches of a tree, I still, even now, find I take the odd detour. Despite this, the trunk still keeps me on the straight and narrow and is the means by which a collection matures.
Eventually, any new piece must stand-alone against the backdrop of other acquisitions and it is at that moment you will discover the piece doesn't "fit". Not only that, but you'll find that it actually detracts from your collection. This is when you have to hope you bought wisely, and pristinely, because at the same moment that this truth dawns on you, your first thought will be "Can I sell it?"

5. Rule five also stems from the mistakes of youth and that is to buy the best example you can afford. If you started your collection by buying slightly damaged, cheaper versions of the same type of thing to establish yourself as a collector in this field, consider selling all of them to buy just one exceptional example. It will pay in the end! Suddenly you'll discover that one absolutely perfect example is worth more than three - five times what damaged examples are worth. I give no specifics here because this axiom remains true for almost all types of antiques, from whatever field or time period you can think of.

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Author: Phil Chave
URL: www.antiquecollector.uk.com

 

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