Friday, February 27, 2015

Understanding how an antique comes to market

    OK how does that pre WW1 desk globe in near mint condition come to market?  How does that exceptionally well preserved 1950 Black ocean Peerless globe come to market?  Would you believe that the answer could be different for both of these items!
     Antiques enter the collector market in only 2 different ways, and this difference explains the antique globe market very clearly as I will show you.  So here goes a not so expert analysis.......
Pre WW1 W& A.K. Johnson

1. Fresh to market, ( sometimes called new to market)   You have all heard that term, well what does it mean? Ask 10 collectors or dealers and you are likely to get 10 different answers. So here is my definition: A fresh to market antique is one that has never been exposed to the antiques marketplace ever before.  That means it's never been on eBay, auctioned, or sat as inventory in an antiques shop.  It comes from the original owner, or the descendant of the original owner.  It might come from a second owner that has a direct link to the original owner, but this is a gray area for me.

2. An established antique or collectible,  This is any item that has ever in it's life entered the antiques marketplace.  This includes an item purchased from an antiques dealer in 1950 and passed down to a grandson who then puts this item on eBay, this item is not new or fresh to market, it was absent from market for a long time but it's not new.  Anything once on eBay, Fleaglass, or  Ruby Lane and searchable in this day in age is certainly in this category.

1950 Weber Costello Peerles
So what is the significance of this and why do I care?  Well we globe collectors spend the majority of our time in a semi searching/ researching mode. There are not that many globes, or opportunities to purchase what we seek so 90% of the time we are learning, or searching for the next item for our collections. If you just read that sentence you are researching right now,  ha ha I caught you!!
     Fresh to market is exciting, a new opportunity, the first opportunity to buy an antique is exciting, and special, firstly if you are buying something fresh to market you set the value, and if you are a collector that's an exciting proposition. Now how do you buy something fresh to market?  There are only two ways. You can buy at auction weather it be eBay, or  traditional;  secondly you can buy at an estate liquidation, weather an estate ( or tag) sale or estate auction.  Under my definition if a dealer advertises something as fresh to market, they are really saying:  fresh to retail.  A dealer rarely gets fresh to market merchandise under my definition, a high end dealer probably has had one, probably two middle men handle an antique before they receive it into inventory, each adding a layer of profit.
     Any other time except the very first sale is an established antique sale, that is the person who first buys it weather dealer, collector, or picker knows the full value of the item,  and any subsequent sale weather to a collector or up the chain of the business is an established antique.
     An established antique is always more expensive than a fresh to market item. Is that a bad thing? Well no not at all. When I buy an established antique I'm buying a value added item, I am purchasing something that has been found, vetted, and marketed, and in some cases guaranteed. That is an important thing especially if I'm buying something outside my very narrow band of knowledge. Truth be told even within my area of knowledge it is sometimes great to see value in an item that someone else also sees value in, it is reassuring.
     So then why do I care again?..........  Well I think it's important as collectors that we step back and  take a look at the whole sales process that encompasses antiques. It is setup unlike anything else that we buy.  The only thing you can buy where knowledge is true power.  You can research that new car purchase for months but you'll never have a real chance to buy that car for less than it's worth.  Smoke and mirrors will have you believe otherwise but who is fooling who. Not so with antiques, you can work smarter not harder!
     Let's back up to the first paragraph of this post, I mentioned 2 globes and how they might each come to market very differently.  First I want to look at our pre WW1 desk globe pictured, it's 100 years old, the person who purchased this globe new is long gone they passed away, and their estate sale occurred in 1988.  back then give or take 5 years was the window when this antique would have been in plentiful supply, coming "fresh to market" on a regular basis right out of the estate.  Now lets look at that 1950 Black ocean Peerless, well grandmas going into the nursing home right now and her baby boomer son's old globe that she never got around to throwing out is popping up in estate sales as we speak, hence the plentiful supply on the Internet.  I want to venture that the window of opportunity to buy a great example of this globe "fresh to market" closes around 2020, so we've got time great examples are still around.  As for our other example the WW1 globe it is now almost exclusively the domain of established antiques sellers, be they collectors, specialty auctions, or dealers. Exceptional examples will almost always come from these sources.
     I want to clarify myself when it comes to eBay, items on eBay can be fresh to market, or established antiques, if a dealer is selling it's established, if it's a picker, also established, it it's listed by someone clearing out their relatives house, or their own house it might be fresh.  It's never black and white, lots of gray between these definitions.  Auctions at least of any sot let those with knowledge set the market price, and that's a good thing!
     So how do I put this into practice?  What I like to do is always keep the door open to fresh sales, be they from eBay, estates, or even networking. I also love dealer sales because the hard work  ( finding the item ) is already done.  Buying from another collector is also a very rewarding opprutunity, why? Well because though not a fresh to market item,  it is not retail either, that gray area again.
     You know, thinking about antiques in this way kinda makes me wonder why did 50's mod explode 10 or so years ago? Was it newly fashionable?  Or is it that the original owners of all of those 50's ranches and the furniture in them all hit the market at once due to the demographics of the owners? We as society have an uncanny knack to make what is available, also popular...
     So what's the "next big thing" then? How can I profit from this this info?...  well duh.... if I had storage space I'd start stock piling 80's boom boxes, Transformers, and every mint in the box NES cartridge I could get my hands in the bank come 2025............ Not to mention pristine examples of pre Berlin wall globes :)

P.S.  In all seriousness; buy an antique for love, not for money. You'll be happier in the long run....

****Both photos in this post are with thanks to Dee Wiemer, owner of Upstarts on Etsy****

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