The best advice that I have ever given someone is to deal in the areas where they felt comfortable. This means both in knowledge and price. Until you have the knowledge required to buy a $100,000 painting, you will never feel comfortable buying it. Also, if paying a $100,000 for something makes you uncomfortable, you aren’t ready to buy it, even if you have the money.
This doesn’t mean that if you come upon a bargain that you don’t act, it simple means at those time you seek help from someone that is comfortable at those levels. You won’t make all the profit, but you also won’t take all the risk when you're not prepared to do so. I have made friends that have been in the fine art business for nearly a hundred years, and I seek their advice often. They have assured me that they will be available if, and when, I find something that makes me nervous.
You should be finding these people before you discover something. By doing so, you will be prepared to act when the opportunity presents itself. One good way to find these people is at antique shows. The dealers will be more than happy to share information with you, and as your relationship with them grows, they will trust your judgement and then will become your partner if need be.
A second place to look for people to partner up with is the antique shops. Spend some time in your local shops and get to know the proprietors, so that if the time comes that you feel the need for information or money to help in the purchaser of some treasure, these people will be prepared to help you.
The third place I would explore would be personal friends that might like to make some extra money. They usually can’t help you with the knowledge, but they can be a great place to find help with financing. With these three avenues, you should never find a treasure that, combined with others, can’t be bought. Now all that is left to do is go out there and find your treasures. Hopefully, in the future, your 31 Club will be able to fill this need for you. Can you tell us of something you pass on because of price or lack of knowledge?