Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rare! the most overused word in the antiques world

     Cruise the antiques section of eBay, Ruby Lane, or Etsy and it is amazing how commonly the word RARE  is used.  It's one of the most common words in an eBay listing especially as far as antiques and collectibles go.   If I didn't know better I would think that everything rare or otherwise hard to find was at my fingertips, oh how I wish that to be true, but it's not.
     So what is rare?  Websters defines rare as:  1. Marked by unusual quality, merit, or appeal 2. Seldom occurring or found.

     That is a nicely succinct definition, so how does that definition apply to the world of globes?   I'm going to offer lots of opinion when I attempt an answer, so here goes....

     Rare as a word applied to collecting globes will,  with few exceptions  apply to any globe produced before  1800  and again with few exceptions will not apply to any globe produced after 1930.  If a globe comes up for sale once a year in collectible condition ( I talked about "collectible condition" in a previous post ) then it is not rare.  If a globe comes up for sale less than once a year it is uncommon, probably not rare, but getting there.  Rare would probably be a globe available less than every three years on average in collectible condition.
     ** I need to qualify a statement, some globe dealers have some very rare globes in inventory, they have been sitting in inventory for many years and will continue to sit in inventory for years, just because they are available to purchase does not make them less rare. It probably means they are exceptionally overpriced.  So when I say "available to purchase"  I'm talking about fresh to market as new inventory, or  up for auction.

Let's define some more words ( this is fun) : Uncommon, another overused word, I think this adjective works well to describe a globe that is not rare, but is still hard to find, or  ( due to exceptional condition) is not seen frequently, a globe that comes up for sale less than once a year but more often than every 3 years is uncommon, also depending on condition I think uncommon globes exist into the 1950's but exceptional  condition would need to come into play here.

Common:  A globe that is readily available, that may not mean it's available all the time, but certainly several examples show up for sale yearly, realistically 70% of the globes I talk about on this blog probably fall into this category, does that mean they are not collectible, or valuable? No it just means that you and I have a reasonable chance of finding one.

So now we have a scale    Rare     Uncommon    Common    the RUC scale!!   very subjective, but no worse than what antiquarian booksellers use,  ie;  Mint, Fine, near fine, very good, good, poor   why do 5 of the 6 sound nice?  only poor sounds bad?  I never understood that.

Next post I think I want to develop a condition scale, one that makes sense ( at least to me....)

So as always I welcome criticism and all discussion!!

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