Practically everybody collects something, and all sorts of people collect antiques. These may be examples of American craftsmanship or of the things imported when new to our shores. Some collectors go on the assumption that anything old must be good and gather in terrible junk; others have their specialties about which they sometimes know more than the museum curators. Of course, everybody knows about the nationally prominent collectors, such as Henry Ford and his Edison Institute at Dearborn, Michigan; Henry F. du Pont and the American antiques which fill the remarkably extensive H. F. du Pont Winterthur Museum, just outside of Wilmington, Delaware; and John D. Rockefeller Jr., whose restoration of Williamsburg, the capital of colonial Virginia, has dramatized the relationship of antiques to American history. But for every collector with a well-nourished bank account there are hundreds whose antiques represent distinct sacrifices. They have gone without the latest in millinery or worn that old overcoat for still another winter and done it lightheartedly in order to buy a piece of furniture, a banjo dock, or some historic flask.
In fact, antique collecting mania is not only infectious but practically incurable, even in the first stages. No one seems quite immune and it is most insidious in its attack. Unlike most manias, however, the benefits are far in excess of the ills. I will not go into its therapeutic value, although more than one good argument has been advanced for its healing ways with nervous wrecks and despondent businessmen. Certainly it provides a hobby for leisure hours, gives dramatic insight into the manners and customs of our American past, and assures the discreet collector of good antiques that his treasures will not only give him pleasure as the years go by but will appreciate steadily in value.
These are just a few of the reasons for collecting antiques as any addict will tell you; but none of them is the real underlying motive. That harks back to the primal and strongest human impulse--desire. Whether he knows it or not, every collector who buys, cajoles, or acquires an antique for his collection does so because he wants that particular thing, be it for its beauty, rarity, oddity, or what not. But unless one wants to remain in the string, marbles, and garter-snake stage, discrimination must be added to the desire to collect.
Value of antiques
How to find the value of antiques, is hard. There is no general rule. What is worth $1000.- today can be $1500.- or $500.- next year. An item can be twice as much in New York as in Miami. Some want to pay $1000.- for an item, others $5000.- for the same thing. The value of antiques depends on time, mood of the buyer, hypes and other unpredictable circumstances. But an expensive item will be expensive most of the time. And cheap antiques will stay cheap probably. But even this, I cannot quarantee.