Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Lure of the Sea: Nautical and Maritime Collectibles

This 1940's Nautical Captain's Desk Clock brought in $5,000 on eBay after having been estimated at $600-800.

British Artist, Graham Hedges, "Storm at Sea" is offered at 31 Gallery & Marketplace.

Did you know that early man used shells as money? Today these treasures of the sea may not bring you great financial gain but many other Nautical items may. While to many, an antique chronometer might not hold any significance, but to the collector of nautical items, this might be a great find. Think in terms of what might someone else collect while you’re out on the hunt.

Ten years ago when I had a booth at the Chicago Riverfront Antique Mart, I always passed by a booth of nautical items, and each time I noticed one strange looking item the dealer had hanging on his wall. So, one afternoon I strolled in to take a closer look at it. The dealer told me it was a Narwhal Whale Tusk, and that these whales live in the Arctic around Canada. The tusk is actually a spiraled whale tooth that can be as long as one third the whale’s body. He wanted $2500 for it. Not for me, I thought. Maybe $200, but I couldn’t see $2500.

When I got home that night, I decided to do some research on this strange looking tusk got the shock of my life. A tusk, the same size as the one I had just seen was showing a value of $10,000 or more. I wanted to call the dealer and buy it at that moment, but I hadn’t taken his phone number and it was late at night, anyway. I got to the mart very early the next day and tried to keep busy rearranging and dusting my own items, but I was waiting with baited breath for that dealer to arrive. It seemed like an eternity.

When I finally spotted him arranging his items, I high tailed it out of my own booth to claim my treasure. When I arrived, breathless, I was able to spit out that I was here for the tusk. “I sold it yesterday just after you left, “ he said. It was as if a dagger had pierced by heart. In fact, in re-telling this story, I still ask myself what I should have done differently.

If you have an interest in researching and studying nautical items, you will find ready and able collectors waiting to purchase you found treasures. Here are just a few items that you might do a little research on: Storage boxes, Chests, Chronometers, Clocks, Compasses, Lanterns, Models, Sextants, Ship Bells, Signs, Telescopes, Wheels and Whistles. This should keep you busy for awhile researching these.

In addition, there are many collectors of items depicting anything related to the sea. Figurines, Fine Art Paintings, Prints and Sculptures.

Having a booth at a marketplace didn't prove to be the best move I've ever made, financially, but having done that, I've been able to established a business network with some truly wonderful people who also set up shop there. Whenever I see them, it's as if I just saw them yesterday, and I continue to do business with many of them.

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