Antiques info


Why collect antiques

American antiques are more cosmopolitan than the people who constitute our United States. They have traditions of design drawn from the four corners of the world and from five centuries of craftsmanship. Although most of our Early American furniture and other household accessories were made at home by Americans for Americans, there are many antiques which collectors prize as typical of this country which are entirely alien. Made by craftsmen who hardly knew of our existence, their only American characteristic was naturalization by purchase and use when they were new merchandise.

Such world-wide sweep is what gives American antiques their charm. Native craftsmanship rubs elbows with that of England, Ireland, France, the Low Countries, Italy, and the Far East. Each antique tells its own story. Some are as fantastic as any in the Arabian Nights; others are poignant records of self-sacrifice and determination.

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.

See also:
Restoring china & glass
Antique rugs

Basic antiques

Finding antique

American fireplace
American mirrors
Baltimore furniture
Common clocks
Queen Anne furniture
Romantic furniture
Sanderson & Salem
Secret drawers
Small sideboards

Glass American
Glass knobs
Sandwich salt dishes
Vermont glass company

Look of antique

Metal wares
Antique Andirons
Birmingham brass
Pewter, Brass, Copper

Chinese influence
Penny banks

Porcelain, Earthenware
Adam Caire
Antique dishes (Dutch)
Yang Stai

Prints & Paintings
Advertising lithographs
Robert Fulton
Samuel F.B. Morse

Drawers & Beds
Furniture hardware
Pewter, Silver, China
Tables & Chairs

Silver & Imitations
Huguenot silversmiths
Silver towns
Women silversmith

Textiles & Needlework
Pennsylvania panels
Quilting bee
Rugs hooking