Click here to listen to this article!
I consider Monday night to be my homework night. I still watch the Antiques Roadshow on PBS. I learn something each time even though the episodes are reruns. It was there that I learned that there is a collector for every object known to man and somewhere there is a subject matter expert to explain it.
The Antiques Roadshow finds the experts and puts them in front of the camera to explain the items brought in by random people. We have no idea what anything is worth until these experts explain it to us. Watching them, I learned that old Beatles clothes are worth a fortune, like pretty much all aging sports memorabilia. Provenance is everything when you attach value to something. That is, if someone can trace an object back to a famous person because his great-uncle was a friend of said famous person, it is worth much more because of the stories attached to it. An example of this in a recent episode of Roadshow was a letter from Abraham Lincoln to a man’s ancestor. It was a personal letter in which Lincoln expressed his feelings in an emotional way to the ancestor who was a personal friend of Lincoln’s.
According to the expert, there were many letters written personally from Lincoln, but very few of such a personal nature where Lincoln revealed his feelings in such a moving way. The letter was worth several thousand dollars. Much of the value came from the story the owner told and his personal knowledge of how his ancestor was attached to Lincoln. Because he could prove the connection and the context, it really enhanced the value of the letter.
Another example from the same show was a photograph of Babe Ruth with a personal inscription to the father of the person who brought the photo. that the person had because their great-aunt owned a boarding house where the team stayed when they were in town. This particular set of ball team photos was worthâ¦ a million dollars!
Everything about the Roadshow isn’t that valuable, but you’d be surprised what it is. Who would have ever thought, apart from a small group of collectors willing to shell out the money for said items, that a collection of framed barbed wire could be worth six figures? Who would have thought that a three foot tall statue of little dude Alka Seltzer would be worth thousands of dollars? Admittedly, it was a collection of the greatest Roadshow hits brought together in one show. Not all shows have all of the elements that are superlative, but they are all outstanding or they wouldn’t be on the show. worth years later. I look forward to seeing if it’s worth more or less now. I like to try and guess for myself in the brief moment between showing the price at the time of recording and the price years later to see if the value has gone up or down. I’m not almost always right. The things I guess are worth more often turn out not to be. It’s like a quiz.
One thing that is often the big loser in value is furniture. For some reason, some really beautiful 200-year-old handcrafted pieces aren’t worth anything now than they were a few years ago. The year 2008 seems to be the turning point in the value of furniture. I think we can look back and think of that time as a little depression that we were in and didn’t really realize it. The period is already called the Great Recession, so we recognize that all was not well after the stock market plunged. This is how things go throughout history. Around three hundred years ago, tulip bulbs were considered such a valuable currency in Holland and other parts of Europe that they were worth hundreds of dollars for a bulb. Of course, it was a speculative market, and the bubble burst. What was valuable in the tulip bulbs yesterday suddenly has no value.
We have seen this happen over and over in the collector market. A few years ago, miniature stuffed animals called Beanie Babies were very collectable. Some were determined to be worth much more than others, for no rhyme or reason. The ones with the little tag that said the mark always on the ear of the little stuffed creatures were worth much more than the ones that had the tags ripped off by their little owners who had the temerity to play with the creatures. .
This fashion came and went. We still see Beanie Babies pop up in the market every now and then, but there are no frenzied collectors who come and rave about finding such treasure. Sometimes people go into ecstasy over unexpected objects, but this is usually due to a personal attachment to the object. For example, one day a woman from Mobile arrived and found a bottle of milk from a long-bankrupt Marengo County dairy.
The dairy had belonged to her grandparents and she had never thought of finding a moment there. It turns out that one of our salespeople is from Marengo County and found the bottle of milk along with a lot of other things. Funny how it works.
It is always interesting to hear about works of art on the Antiques Roadshow. Often times people have a painting that was in the corner of their basement collecting dust and just decided to grab it to bring it to the Roadshow just for fun because they won the Roadshow lottery tickets and had to choose something they owned to get it. evaluated.
Turns out it’s worth a lot of money, which brings me to another point. If the reviewers appearing on the Roadshow are not paid, what do they have to pay their own money to come? First, there is the name they make by being in front of the camera as experts. Second, although they are not allowed to buy and sell during the Roadshow, they may receive follow-up calls from people who have had items rated and then buy the items from the people or receive a commission from them when they do. they help the owner find a buyer for the item. Sometimes the reviewer will lose money over time when they pay a high amount for the item.
An appraiser recently talked about buying the Alka Selter plastic guy from the owner for the appraiser’s collection and over time the Alka Selter plastic guy was worth a lot less, but the appraiser said he did. liked and that he was happy to have the guy in his collection of toys and folk art. We all have stuff like this in our collections. Ask anyone who loves fine china. Those sets that we inherited or bought in the past are now worth considerably less than they were when they were purchased. They are beautiful, hand painted and trimmed with gold.
When I got married I collected a set called Rosalind by Havilland. It was sold locally by Lisenbe and Bedsoles, so I received a lot of it. I must have taken a lot of the plates that I received from Lisenbe’s back because it turned out that Sadie bought a lot of the de Havilland seconds and sold them in premium quality. They all had yellowish rims instead of the white intended by the manufacturer. I can talk about it now because she is dead and there was no damage since I was able to return them for other gifts.
Now, no one of the youngest wants it at all, whether it’s first or second quality. One of the reasons no one wants fine china is because it has that golden edge that makes it microwave safe. This is certainly a downside in today’s world. If it doesn’t go in the microwave to reheat it, it’s not very good for serving it. I definitely want something that I can throw in the microwave and the dishwasher. A lot of people wash all of their fine china by hand and I probably would too if I didn’t care about porcelain conservation.
I don’t, so I just put mine in the dishwasher and let it rip. I guess no more often than I actually use fine china, it can’t remove all the gold from the rim in a few washes. Today, cardboard plates are preferred for large family reunions. Such is the evolution of society. We move forward and leave the gold plating behind us. We collect items because of the personal meaning we attach to items. If we want a wall-mounted crank phone, we want it because we saw one of our ancestors standing next to it and talking into the mouthpiece. We don’t admire it as a thing of beauty except for what it reminds us of or because it comes from a time that we somehow feel attached to.
As I stop and philosophize about why I am in the antiques business, I realize that I love to sell memorabilia and meaningful items. I like to collect them myself and share the overflow with other collectors. As the holidays approach, we will be collecting more souvenirs. Someday we might be able to look back at the items from our Thanksgiving parties and say, “Do you remember those little disposable plastic jars with the red lids that we put the leftovers in?”
They were so nice. I wonder what happened to them. I wonder why we didn’t save them? Today we certainly collect those little glass fridge dishes from yesteryear. Of course, things were much more durable then because they had to last. Today we live in a disposable society. Wondering what people will collect in the future?
Are they going to dig landfills to collect all the plastic and styrofoam that collects there? The future of the collection is yet to be discovered. I know a guy who has a first computer motherboard framed on his wall as art and do you know what? It’s pretty. Humans are born hunter-gatherers.