Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Antique Lamps - Let it Shine
The beautiful thing about Antique Lamps is that there are lamps to fit everyone's budget. If you are looking for a simple old lamp to add light and elegance, there are many, but Tiffany has lamps that can bring over a million dollars at auction.
When searching for that rare find in lamps, it's important to know that the value is usually in the shade. Yes, I have sold Tiffany bases for over $5,000 but if you remember from an earlier Blog, I searched all over for a shade and couldn't find one suitable for this lamp, even though I bid up to $10,000 for the one that I thought was befitting of the base. I was not successful in locating a suitable shade. This makes sense when you consider that the bases are usually made from metal and they seldom break. But the shades are a different animal. If one has survived for over 100years, that makes it special indeed and in much demand.
My friend Warner and I once traveled deep in the county to a farm auction where a small puffy Pairpoint Floral lamp was up for auction. We bought some items before the lamp came up for auction. Not wanting to appear too eager, we waited until someone else cast the first bid. Believe it or not, the opening bid on this lamp was only $500. We waited, and the bid crept up to $750. At that point we thought it was time for us to bid. We didn't want the auctioneer to drop the hammer for someone else at a price we would have gladly paid. Our bid got to $1,500. Warner and I could hardly contain ourselves when the auctioneer dropped the hammer and pointed in our direction. No, it wasn't a million dollar purchase, but it was very early in our partnership, and we knew that we done well at $1,500.
We were able to sell that lamp for over $4,500. At the time, to us it might as well have been a million. This type of purchase is available to everyone if they have the knowledge to recognize value. Remember, I said that we were deep in the country? There was a reason for that. By far, the best buys I have made was when I was willing to go that extra mile to find something special. I have found that when I go where others don't, my competition is often limited. And since I am looking for the rare item, rather than lots of common items, I am at an advantage.
You see, I am always looking to buy the best that is presented at any auction I attend. Yes, I do expect the items that I bid on to be the highest priced pieces entered in the auction, but again, there are so many dealers afraid of making a mistake they let many outstanding pieces sell for much less than their true value. That is what we are looking for, right? You must be very careful when purchasing an expensive item, however, because an unnoticed crack can be fatal to you and turn your joy into tears. The more expensive the item the more scrutiny you must give it.
You can find these special pieces listed in the Antique Trader, Antique Week and the Maine Antique Digest in their auction sections. If you haven't subscribed to these papers by now, what are you waiting for?
Be aware that there are many fakes of Tiffany, Gallee and other well known lamps. If the price seems really cheap, then this should at least make you suspicious.
The book that I enjoy looking at is "Quality Electric Lamps - A Pictorial Price Guide" published by L&W Book Sales. I am sure that there are many more wonderful books on lamps, and we will be adding many of them to our reference section in the future.
You might be keeping an eye out for Handel lamps, Jefferson, Miller, Moe Bridges, and Roycraft among others.
Even contemporary lamps can be worthwhile, and if purchased low enough, the return to you can help in your effort to reach another step in your journey.
I will be selling a Daum Nancy lamp in the Early's Spring Auction, so be sure to watch for it.
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