Friday, May 9, 2008
Know Your Customer -- The Collector and The Advanced Collector
Often the one thing that makes a collectible so valuable is that there was enough production by the company so that anyone can find pieces to start a collection Usually a budding collector starts with a less valuable item and then works his or her way up to the more expensive pieces.
Let’s take Rookwood for an example. If you're collecting, you might make your first purchase of Rookwood in the commercial wares area of their production. A simple vase might fit the bill. But, as you advance in the collection, the artist signed pieces will become more appealing to you. Yes, they will be far more expensive, but over time you will have become more knowledgeable and realize that this is where the true investment will be. This is true of Roseville, Weller, Van Briggle, Teco and many other pottery companies whose production was expansive, and is a great way for the novice to learn as their collections grow without making too many mistakes.
But why is this important to us? We want to buy and sell, right? Yes, but unless we can get into the mind of the collectors -- our customers -- our buying will be more about ourselves and not about the ones we want to sell our treasures to.
There is an exception to this type collecting. There are some collectors who buy the rare items from companies who had only a limited production. In the industry, we refer to this type of collector “the advanced collector.” Pauline Pottery, produced right here in Chicago and then later in Wisconsin, is an example of an item an advanced collector might look for.
The Pauline Company was in business for only 10 years from 1883 until 1893. This lets you know that the number of pieces they produced would be very limited, and I doubt you will find many people that have a large collection of their pottery. However, this is where the advanced collector steps in. He wants one of the better pieces from the Pauline kilns to show the diversity of his collection. The pitcher that sold on ebay brought over $500, and even though it did nothing for me personally, I can see why a collector would want it in their collection.
The main problem with purchasing this type of merchandise is that there will always be a limited market for the company’s wares unless the item is exceptional. Don't get stuck with common pieces by unknown companies because they will be yours forever. If you do see an exceptional item, but don't recognize the mark, this is a time to get very stingy with your money. This is also an excellent way to find a Treasure while taking very little risk.
In the case of Pauline, the mark is a very indistinct crown with no writing but perhaps the artist’s initials. Their second mark just says “Pauline Pottery.” I suggest you keep your eyes out for very large and decorative pieces by this company, but leave the lesser ones alone. If you find that special piece of Pauline, I think that you should be able to buy it very reasonably. Therefore, your profit should meet our goals of at least doubling our money on our purchases.
Remember to tune into the AuctionWally BlogTalk Radio program on Monday. I am Auctionwally's special guest and you can call in your questions. I hope I hear from you.
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