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Five Characteristics of a Successful Antique Collector
So you want to become an antique collector? What makes a good antique collector, what characteristics does one need? Antique collecting, or hunting is an absorbing, exciting, and satisfying pastime, or a full-time job if you’re doing it for a living, and you need five special attributes to become an antique collector.
The first of these characteristics is enthusiasm. With enthusiasm you can do anything. You will need enthusiasm to encourage you to learn as much as you can about your chosen field. The antique field is associated with the subjects – since almost everything will become an antique sooner or later – if it is more than 100 years old, by definition it is an antique. But even objects less than 100 years old are also included in this genre if they are deemed worthy of the label. Because the scope is so vast older collectors specialize in one or two aspects of it. They could collect antique clocks, or old paintings, books, period furniture, you name it, the list is endless. Or they might specialize in a particular period of time, such as the Victorian era, or the early settler period of the Midwestern United States. Pursuing your particular branch of the subject requires knowledge and you will only acquire this knowledge with enthusiasm.
Another feature of antique hunting that is very important to your success is the ability to dig. Have you ever wondered what was in your grandmother’s old attic? Or what grandfather kept in this box in his office? One source to find antiques is to go to clearance sales. What’s in that pile of old paper in that cardboard box? Go along to auctions and dig around. Go to antique shops, especially those off the beaten path – many a treasure was discovered by the nosy hunters.
Be a detective
And having an inquisitive nature is not very good without having the characteristics of its sister – being a detective. Once an interesting item has been found, there is usually a fair amount of detective work required to uncover its history. You will need to know at least when it was made or roughly around the time it was made in. Who owns it, is it rare? Can his background be determined with any degree of certainty? Can his story be traced? The provenance of an antique piece can add tremendous value to it. Provenance is anything related to its origin or life history that is of great interest. For example, if the newly discovered set of cutlery was once for George Washington, then the cutlery would immediately achieve some notoriety – provenance – and be that much more valuable than cutlery for which there is no famous owner who is using it. can be determined. The detective’s expertise is extensive. You need to be able to tell the real from the fake; restore from the original; and repaired from the whole.
This expertise is only acquired through knowledge, which brings me to the next attribute – the ability to learn. You need to absorb as much as you can about your chosen field – it would be impossible to learn everything about all antiques, so specialize in one area. Choose a genre – furniture, watches, old toys, agricultural implements, postage stamps, manuscripts – it is an infinite list, and study the subject with a passion. The sources of achieving this knowledge are almost as endless as the subjects themselves. Books are an obvious mine of information but visit auctions, house clearances, and antique dealers and ask questions – be crazy! The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask!
Finally, become an adventurer. Explore your surroundings, go to the neighboring town and walk through the curio shops, the old shops, the antique shops, the auction houses. Enter libraries and search for long-forgotten manuscripts and books and find information about local people and places. Find clues about the whereabouts of old homes, or details of property owners passed down through generations – where are they now? Take the trip – search, become an explorer of the antique world.
With your enthusiasm, your inquisitive nature, your discerning ability and your ingenuity born of knowledge you never know what you might find. Life is fun, exciting stories, fulfilling discoveries, follow the antique collection trail and enjoy it.
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