Have you ever bought something, anything really, and brought it home then had that sinking feeling........" I think I overpaid" you say, then you check the ads maybe go on the Internet...... well if you just bought an antique it's not that easy, it's next to impossible to compare one piece to another. So what does it mean to overpay for an antique? More importantly How do I know if I did, and How can I prevent doing so in the future?
First what type of buyer are you? dealer? dealer/ collector? Pure collector?
If you are a dealer, stop reading now this post just doesn't apply to you. Nothing against dealers, but this is not fit advice to follow. Now a lot of people are a bit dealer, and a bit collector. Trying to balance their love of an area of collecting with the desire to make some money. If this is you then read on, perspective might come. Finally are you a pure collector? Do you buy first for the love of the object? If so then please read on......
I want to mention right from the outset that I am a pure collector, I sell only to upgrade my collection, which in this hobby is rarely. So back on track, overpaying for anything is something nobody likes to do, but I've learned a valuable lesson along the way. It's almost impossible to overpay if you are buying the best example of what you are collecting. That goes for anything, from early American furniture, to 1980's lunch boxes, and certainly to old globes!
But Kyle....you can't be serious, of course you can overpay! Someone is probably yelling that at the monitor right now. Yes people overpay for run of the mill antiques all the time, average condition, will always be just that..average....
Let me clarify myself. and please pay attention!! You can overpay for almost anything you buy day to day, we are pre programed to find the deal, and 99 times out of 100 finding the deal means finding the lowest price. As Americans we are obsessed with saving money on everything. Look no further than Amazon, Wal Mart, etc... we love deals, heck I love deals. Now I want to concentrate on the 1% of the time when getting the deal might not be price based!
Antiques of any type are inherently hard to comparison shop, because as an antique buyer you must contend with price, age, condition, context, condition, and demand. Notice I mentioned condition twice. If you are a regular reader of this blog you will notice that I harp on condition, I am the biggest fan of buying less but buying better, and therein lies my nugget of wisdom. If you are buying only the best examples of what you want to collect it becomes very hard to overpay for those antiques. Demand for the nicest examples of any antique will always be there, when prices of antiques go down, and they sometimes do, it is usually the middle or lower end of any category that suffers, the best examples of any collectible or antique nearly always are stable or increasing. Aiming your collecting budget at the very best examples of an antique category is always the best practice. So I submit that it is better to overpay and acquire the best and fewer examples, rather than " save" money and buy a middle of the road example of the same antique.
So why have I posted this now? What's my angle? Well a month ago I missed out on something, and I want to share this with you, a lesson learned, please follow this link: 1960 Trippensee Planetarium This link takes you to an eBay auction that I bid on and lost, if you're reading this and you were the lucky winner congratulations on a smart buy. This Tellurion was not too old, 1960 but it's condition was exceptional, right down to the instruction manual I bid into the high $500 range, and the winner was high $700 you see I was nervous that I was going to overpay. I knew I was wrong 1 minute after the auction closed. I was blind until defeat. I cheaped out, so to speak. Now this is not a rare item, these come up about once a month, or so in varying condition, but how often do the come to market complete, and in exceptional condition? That is a much rarer event, and in my mind definitely worth the premium this telurion brought.
So was this item worth more than the sale price? Would going higher have been OK? I'm going to go ahead and say yes, and here's why. An item such as this is only over time going to become more scarce, add in excellent condition and I think the case can be made that a true collector can and should go after such an item with a different level of determination, because lets fast foreword 10 years ( we're in the long game are we not? ) What is this item going to sell for in the antiques market? probably $1500 give or take a bit, so would paying up for the privilege of condition be such a bad thing? Now your average tellurian of this vintage, sells for $350-$550 right now and will probably sell for $450-$700 in a decade. Price appreciation in antiques is not even across the spectrum, it greatly favors the top 10% of best condition examples. Now, missing that tellurion is not the end of the road, another great one will surface, eventually... and I'll be waiting.
So just like real estate it's all condition, condition, condition. Keep that in your mind when buying and everything else will work itself out. One caveat, I don't invest in antiques, I collect something I'm passionate about, if a monetary gain occurs, great!! It is not my main focus. Buying smartly we should have an eye on resale eventually, I've learned to never say never.
Finally if you are interested in an area of collecting and it gives you pleasure to pursue your interest well then what price can you put on that.