Saturday, December 23, 2017

Upgrading a collection, knowing when it's time to sell

     If you've collected anything for any length of time you've then probably sold something along the way as well.   10 years ago in my zeal for building my collection I bought some things that didn't fit later on.  I've talked about them before but now I want to talk about the process a bit more in depth.
     A pragmatic collector realizes that at certain times removing an item from ones collection is just as important as adding an item.  If we're not to become hoarders we must constantly evaluate the items in our collections with an eye towards improvement and with focus on our goal as long term collectors.  Let me demonstrate with some examples.

Example 1: Weber Costello 8 inch school globe, 1928

This is a great globe that I've had in my collection for many years.  It's representative of a classic 1920's classroom globe, and it's in very nice shape, but it's destined to be sold someday.  Why you ask......?  Well because someday I'm going to run across  a stunningly perfect example of this globe, they are not uncommon and surely that day will come.  When it does it's out with the old and in with the new.  I won't hold onto two examples of the same globe I call this the "upgrade sell" it is probably the most common reason an advancing collector sells anything.  

Example 2:  Crams 16 inch political floor globe, 1938 very first globe purchase.......a quality floor globe, in great shape.  I bought this globe when I knew nothing about globes its big, its nice and eventually it's going bye bye....  I'm generally a bit of a sentimentalist but I've got to be a pragmatist also.  I don't own a warehouse, and floor globes are big bulky furniture. I've got room for 1 maybe 2 exceptional floor globes, or a nice pair of floor globes ( ideally actually) so what's wrong with this pre war Cram's.....?  Nothing!  It's just one of those eventual sales that will take place as another "upgrade sell" .  Another collector will have a chance to love this globe as much as I do because I'll be busy loving a new floor model 1885 Andrews.... for example....!!    The upgrade sell...........

Example 3: H. Kiepert miniture globe 1896

 I like this globe, it's stunning in it's detail close up.  and the compass still works!  It's actually dated at 1896 in the cartouche, it's 120 plus years young, and earlier this year the circumstances were right for a sale.  Now this little gem is complicated. It's in marvelous shape, near pristine.  I decided to part with this one eventually because it just does not fit the narrative of my collection. I'm trying to build a collection that focuses on the history of American globe making, and this little guy is German.  Now the German history and additions to the art of globe manufacture are incredible,  they just don't fit my collection, this gem of a globe will be more happy in another collection. 

     Knowing what to buy, and knowing what to sell in a collection are equally important.   When your a new collector you focus on acquisition nearly 100%.  I've had globes before that just a few years earlier I figured I'd never part with.  Buying and holding everything.....well that's hoarding threes a DSM-5 code for hoarding now ( 300.3  BTW)   So I never want to be called a hoarder that's mental illness!!  ( OK tongue in cheek)  no seriously..... it is.   
     Anyhow setting goals, smart buying, education ( that's the big one)  and smart selling.  That's collection building 101,  that's connoisseurship.   That sounds so much better.   

Merry Christmas,  Happy Hanukkah,  Joyous Festivus ( Dec 23) ,  Lest we forget my favorite Boxing day!!    

Friday, December 8, 2017

The lure of estate sales........Knowledge is power

     I love estate sales, or as my Canadian neighbors say "content sales"!  There is something quite alluring about rummaging through a whole household that is there for the picking.  I probably attend 100 or so estate sales a year, usually plotting a route that takes  me to 3-5 sales on an early Friday morning ( it's always early and it's always Friday).  I go to the posh downtown dwellings and the off the grid family farms, and I've scored at both venues.
     I never find a globe at these sales,  good globes are needless in a haystack really.   Well that all changed this past Friday.   While casually glancing through the app I use to find these sales I saw a picture of a globe, it was old , a 12 inch table globe that had to be mid 19th century.  Below is the picture I saw.

This photo taken from the estate agent's post on
social media, the globe as bookend! 
     I knew it was something, what exactly I could not know for sure,  well 25 miles away I raced down the thruway to the "Delaware " district of Buffalo and their 100 year old mansions. This house didn't disappoint, almost 7000 square feet of 1890's gilded age splendor.  I ran in the door , 14 steps ahead of my lovely wife who was still parking the car ....... I was 5 minutes late.... just purchased.
     So what was it that I missed,  never shy I walked right into the corralled area sold merchandise is kept and discovered that my 5 minutes cost me a Smiths of London desk globe, and at a measly $250 what a steal that was for the lucky buyer.   Dejected I probably let some other great finds slip past as I smarted about my near miss.  Such is life.

Smith's globe for a mere $250.........

Smith's globe despite plaster cracks, otherwise intact 

    Despite this failure I I always persevere, later that day I found for just a couple of dollars a great guidebook to the 1901 Pan American exposition, complete with 2 fold out maps, certainly not a retirement piece but still a great little thing.  You should know that my house is full of estate finds large and small.  Here's a pic of my consolation prize:

     Now in the antique business estate sales are where the sausage is made so to speak. That Smiths globe purchased for $250 will most likely be sold on by the picker to a mid level dealer. As a fairly specialized item it might get another quick sale to a higher level dealer ( a 1st dibber )  that person will then contact Green Dragon bindery or another highly reputable restoration company and they will spend the $1000-$2000 it will take to make this globe perfect again,  after these investments. That high end dealer will offer it for sale in NYC, or Boston,  at a price probably approaching $5000.  So from found at $250 to high end object In  3 steps !
     Antiques move quite often from estate sale to dealer, to collector and back again, with smart people along the way who see value in items differently than the object's present circumstance.  Knowledge is currency in the estate market, and time along with exposure to these sales is the only way to accumulate this currency!   The hunt at it's best!