Monday, May 5, 2008

Antiques Looking Too Good Mean Caution Necessary before Buying

After a period of dedicated time spent working on our 31 Club website and attending to other club business, it was a great treat to be able to get back in the game this past weekend.

After church on Sunday, I spent part of the day with Cindy and Marsha back at the estate sale I went to on Saturday, but I ended up with as much money in my pocket as when I began the day. However, with the Saturday’s purchase of the Rookwood lamp, I have to confess that it was a pretty good weekend.

I’ve noticed that there are items entering the market that are just too good, and I want to warn you about some of them, as well as the reason you need to be very careful. At this weekend’s estate sale, there was a Cushman Scooter that had been customized by converting it into an ice cream vendor cart-scooter, similar to the old bicycle-vendor carts. Was it a vintage? It appeared in mint condition in every detail, even down to the Cushman emblems. However, upon further inspection, several clues didn’t add up. I could see the work that had been done on it. No doubt the skeleton and the engine were old, but I have doubts about the rest of the cart. Why?

First, it was held together by Phillips head screws. These type of screws were not available when this piece was originally made. Second, the heads of the nuts that were used to bolt the bumpers and other attachments were not old. I continued to inspect and came to the conclusion that most of this piece was newly fabricated and therefore, had very little antique value. However, this didn’t deter the seller from asking $10,000 for the cart.

Remember, when you are buying something for its antique value, the more of the original condition that has been maintained, the better the piece and the higher the value will be when it’s sold. Any alteration will take away value. If the piece is over-restored, it becomes a novelty item, not an antique. And novelty items are less valuable.

This becomes very important in other areas such as antique banks. If you find an antique bank in mint condition, with the paint as fresh as it had been done yesterday, it’s most likely a reproduction. Older paint will have a patina on it that will look soft and mellowed, while new paint will appear start and harsh. An old bank could also have been restored by repainting, and if that’s the case, its value can be reduced up to 75%.

When you find anything that should have antique value, leave it as found and buy it accordingly. My rule is that if I can't wash off the dirt with water and a mild detergent then I let the new buyer decide. In this way, the buyer will decide if he or she wants to take the chance of fully devaluing the item. New is new, and even if the con artists have come up with some of the most ingenious ways to age certain pieces, there are still telltale signs that will give them away. Any time you have a question regarding these matters, be sure to contact me either by email or phone. Happy Hunting.

P. S. Please comment on the website changes we are making. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. --- Daryle

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