Sunday, March 30, 2014

The 3 C's of antique collecting

Condition, Condition, Condition!!!

  Just like in real estate it's all about location, with antiques it's all about condition. What separates a good globe from a better one and what elevates an antique globe to exceptional, it's condition. 
    Globes by their nature are meant to be used, and were in their time utilitarian scientific instruments.  So as with anything designed for human use they eventually wear out.  The great antiques in any category of collecting are in superior condition than the average and it is even more true with an object like a globe.  
    Well, what can you expect to find condition wise with globes.  Here I want to divide globes into 4 distinct time frames and speak separately about  acceptable condition.

1. Vintage globes, post WWII into the 1950's  These globes are by far the easiest to obtain in any condition so really only the finest, near mint to mint examples should be considered by the collector. trading up and holding out for an excellent example of a globe from this time period should be your goal.

2. Post WWI to WWII globes 1920-1940  These globes are considerably harder to find than the vintage globe category 1, so at this point a collector can begin making allowances for condition, what to expect. 
in this period many homes and schools still had coal heat which was dirty, and darkened the shellac, this is almost universal, also the finish on the metal or wooden base of these globes will inevitably have some scratches, or worn spots, remember humans have handled these for 80 or so years. Minor scratches to the orb would also be expected, and all of these are acceptable.

3. Pre WWI globes 1880-1920  These globes are true survivors, true antiques older than almost all living people today, these are getting hard to find in any condition, good examples in nice condition will always command a substantial premium in price to a collector. In addition to all of the condition issues mentioned in #2 the globes in this category will most likely have small areas of missing map surface, as well as further darkening of the shellac, or partial wearing away of the shellac. the stand if metal may have a small amount of rust, and surely have a worn finish. 

4. 1830-1880 globes  This time period encompass the birth of the American globe with James Wilson, and such makers as Lorring, Joslin, Nims, and Schedler. Any globe that has survived from this time period in any reasonable condition can be considered collectible. Acceptable condition issues including small cracks, worn map surface, and professional restoration will almost certainly be present.  It goes without saying that acquiring a globe from this time period in great condition, is the holy grail for most collectors, but owning a James Wilson globe even in poor condition is still difficult and many collectors will still jump at the chance because they are so rare, especially any globe that pre-dates the civil war.

Ok Ok...... am I making too much out of the importance of condition,  I don't think so.  A bit of my personal collecting style coming through.  I value condition so highly that adding or not adding a globe to my personal collection comes down to condition every time; it's because of this that I add only one or two globes to my collection in any given year. 

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