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Tag Archives: Collecting Tips

How to Buy American Antique Furniture: A Guide for New Collectors

While I’ve heard some say “the golden age of antiques collecting is over,” in fact, it’s not over, and for some, it’s just beginning. There’s so much opportunity out there, especially for twenty- or thirty-somethings just starting out and setting up homes.

Selling Antique Books, Part II: Eight Ways to Determine Your Books’ Value

If there is one single thing that is a make or break for book value, it would be the dust jacket. The value of a first edition copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night with dust jacket is around $6,000. Without a dust jacket….$300. This huge difference in value is largely due to the fact that more than 90% of dust jackets are destroyed, either deliberately or due to their ephemeral and fragile nature. If you have one on a good book, treasure it. Also, be sure to protect it with a plastic sleeve.

Collecting Signed Historic and Literary Documents

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, autograph letter signed as President, concerning collective bargaining. Sold for $13,530

“Alexander Hamilton actually touched this!” Many of us have felt this childlike sense of excitement at museums, libraries, in the classroom, and in historic buildings where important events took place. When the impulse to collect grabs hold, the excitement increases exponentially.

The sense of awe we feel gazing through glass at a museum can be replaced by the intoxicating pride of ownership: Alexander Hamilton actually touched this, and now it’s mine!… Read More

Let Skinner Lot Alert Help you Save Time Searching for Fine Art, Antiques and Collectibles at Auction

Keeping up with what is being offered at auction can be challenging. Over 50 auctions take place in Massachusetts each year, meaning that there are tens of thousands of antiques and collectibles being bought and sold. How can one person keep track of them all and avoid missing out on the interesting, possibly obscure, or rare antique they’re seeking?

How to Buy American Victorian Furniture: A Guide for New Collectors

Victorian Furniture | Ebonized Mahogany Chair

I’m seeing a trend in the Boston area when it comes to Victorian homes. Home-buying opportunities abound, and I’ve met more than a few “young collectors” who speak admiringly of the ornate woodwork, beautiful hardwood floors and unique build-ins of their new Victorian homes. Although they realize they purchased gems, what they might not have thought about is how affordable it is to furnish their new homes with period designs.

I’ve overheard it said that Victorian antiques and Boston don’t agree – but that’s certainly not true in my experience. New York City housed the biggest powerhouses of design and manufacture in latter part of the 19th century, including Herter Brothers and Pottier & Stymus, but Boston had plenty of purchasing power, and museums and collections are plentiful here. Most importantly for collectors, great buys can be had if you know what to look for.

Collecting American Pottery: Focus on Mochaware

Mochaware was everyday pottery in early America. The simple, geometric decorations and dynamic colors have remained timeless and popular since first made in England in the early 19th century. The August 11, 2013 American Furniture & Decorative Arts auction features a group of mochaware from private estates as well as other consignors. An early 19th-century barrel-form pitcher (lot 414, $500 to $700) and a silver-mounted mustard pot (lot 420, $300 to $500) are two examples of the variety of forms to be sold.… Read More

Breaking Books

A rare book can lose a significant amount of value if it’s missing even a single page of text. If what’s lacking is a title page, illustration, or map, the price will drop like an anvil in a cartoon. The same goes for a set of books that happens to be missing one or two volumes. And yet every day in the Skinner Fine Books & Manuscripts department we see plates, maps, title pages, and text leaves removed from valuable books.

Do You Believe the Myths?

Antique furnishings are much more than “old” — they’re affordable, useful, sturdy, and stylish.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “antique”? Expensive? Old? Fragile? Stuffy? As a specialist at Skinner auction house, I know that these stereotypes are often undeserved. Not all antiques are unfashionable, pricey, or breakable collectors of dust. There is a secret underbelly to this world of old things that is surprisingly affordable, useful, sturdy, and stylish.… Read More

Guide to Collecting Antique Jade

Mention jade, and most people think of a green stone, when in fact, jade comes in a variety of colors. In addition to the familiar rich green hues, antique jade may be white, lavender, yellow, brown, gray, or reddish-purple.

Another important thing to understand about jade is that there are two different types of jade stones: nephrite and jadeite. Both can be found in river beds, or mined at depths of ten to twenty feet, and both come in all colors, though nephrite’s colors are less vivid than the colors of jadeite. Hence, identifying the two stone types can be difficult.

Antique Weathervanes, Part I: Horses, Roosters, and Cars… Oh My!

Collectors of American antiques love weathervanes. In fact, people love them so much that during the 60s and 70s antique weathervanes started disappearing from roofs across America. Thieves were stealing the valuable vanes in the middle of the night. I heard stories of weathervanes being stolen away by helicopter – they swooped down and lifted weathervanes off of barn roofs.

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