Posts Tagged ‘Antiques Roadshow’

Most Pretty Items Have Little Value

December 1, 2011

Now that the holiday season is upon us and people are looking for gifts to buy for friends and family, I thought I would again write about the worth (or lack thereof) of many collectibles and what makes a collectible actually worth something. As much as I enjoy programs like the Antiques Roadshow and reading about toys that have become collectors’ items, not every toy or figurine will appreciate in value. That message seems to get lost in the glow of someone learning that their dumpster dived item is worth six figures.

Figurines
If you are of a certain age, you will remember seeing Hummel, Precious Moments and other porcelain figurines for sale in gift shops and department stores. Hummels are figurines based on the drawing of German nun, Maria Innocentia Hummel and Precious Moments started as greeting cards drawn by American artist, Sam Butcher and later the line expanded to porcelain figurines. Lots of people bought both Hummels and Precious Moments in their heyday of the 1960’s and 1970’s with the hopes they would appreciate in value. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to Easy Street. Once the original owners of these items died, tastes changed, their children were stuck with these things that no one else wanted. Taking Hummels as an example, Louis Kahn of Bakerstowne Collectibles, an appraisal and consignment service located in West Hempstead, N.Y, states that most of them sell for $50 or less. At those prices, you can’t exactly trade in a Hummel for a mansion and a yacht.

Collector Plates and Thomas Kinkade Paintings
Yes, those items advertised in the Sunday magazines of countless newspapers across the country where for just three payment of $29.99 you can own a collectors’ plate featuring a scene from a Norman Rockwell illustration or an illuminated Thomas Kinkade painting. Again, the trouble with these items is that so many of them were made that the supply is greater than the demand. So, if you come across a collection of collector plates or Thomas Kinkade paintings and decide not buy them, don’t feel bad. You came out ahead of those who bought these things with the expectation of a return on investment.

The Other Side
“Wait a minute.” You must be saying now. “There have to be some collectibles that have appreciated in value or else there wouldn’t be things like Hummels and collectors plates.” Yes, there are collectibles that have appreciated in value, the one thing that they have in common is rarity. For example, when Kenner’s Star Wars action figures first came to market, the Luke Skywalker, Obi-Won and Darth Vader figures had a telescoping light sabers built in. Well the mechanism didn’t work all the time, so Kenner redid the line and took out the mechanism. Since so few of them hit the market, the action figures with the  telescoping light saber are now worth between $6,000 and $7,000. (Why do I have a feeling that there will be a run on Star Wars action figures with the telescoping light saber feature?) Of course, the notion of rarity leading to increased value makes sense. If diamonds were available as a prize in  cereal boxes, would they be worth so much? The same goes for collectibles. As pretty and well made as some of the collectibles mentioned are, that doesn’t mean that they will be worth lots of money 20 or 30 years later.

So, let this be a warning to be careful which doo-dads to buy. Better yet, don’t buy them in the first place. Just stick your money in the bank. Money in the bank will grow via compound interest*. The only thing many collectibles will accrue is dust.

*Compound interest is where interest in earned on the initial amount invested, also known as the principal, and on the interest, as well. For example, if you invest $100 for 3 years at 5 percent compound interest, at the end of 3 years you would have:

$100 (1 + 0.05)3 = $115.76

So, your investment would have earned $15.76 in interest in 3 years time.

Sources:
http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/113722/worthless-collectibles-street;_ylt=ArznWSSbLtYR5SvZ2bklXZE40tIF;_ylu=X3oDMTBzZDJsbjltBHBvcwM0BHNlYwNhcnRpY2xlRmluYWwEc2xrAzE-

http://www.preciousmoments.com/content.cfm/precious_moments_history_timeline

http://games.yahoo.com/photos/most-valuable-action-figures-1319569716-slideshow/most-valuable-action-figures-photo-1319574722.html

http://math.about.com/od/formulas/a/compound.htm

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Most Often Its Insignificant Yesterday and Today

April 7, 2011

An article in the Paul Fraser Collectibles website mentions how a dress made by Charlotte Todd sold for £78,000 or over $124,000. Who is Charlotte Todd, you ask? She is a friend of Kate Middleton, the fiancé of Prince William. Todd made this dress that Kate wore for a university fashion show and sold it at auction.

Well, it’s nice that the dress pulled in that kind of money. Yet, there’s more. An episode of the Antiques Roadshow featured someone with a Tiffany tea screen from the 1900’s. The appraiser on the show wasn’t sure if was a real Tiffany or a fake. If it was a real Tiffany, it would be worth $15,000 to $20,000. If it was a fake, it would only be worth $1,000.  Well, the owner contacted a Tiffany expert and it was proven to be a real Tiffany.

Thankfully for those two, their items proved to be worth something. The trouble comes when people hear about these stories and it encourages them to buy things in the hopes that “…it will be worth something one day.” There’s a lot of stuff (i.e. junk) being sold at flea markets, garage sales, thrift shops and the like. Just because something is old doesn’t necessarily mean it is “worth” something, as in enough money for me to quit my job and move to Florida.

If you are going to buy something with the hopes of it appreciating in value keep these things in mind:

Educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about the item you want to purchase. Find out the difference between a real and a fake/reproduction, what the signs of wear and age are and what the true going prices are.

If something is too good to be true, it probably is. There are a lot of fakes and fly-by-night sellers of collectibles. So, ask questions. If you don’t like the answers or aren’t getting any, don’t deal with the person.

My advice remains not to buy a collectible for investment value, rather to buy for enjoyment value.

Something to think about the next time you are browsing at a flea market.

Source:
http://www.paulfrasercollectibles.com/section.asp?catid=179&docid=6354

http://finance.yahoo.com/currency-converter/#from=GBP;to=USD;amt=78000

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/fts/dallas_200802A43.html

What Lurks In Your Walls Or Some People Have All The Luck

October 20, 2010

As I have stated many times before, I love the Antiques Roadshow[1].  I especially love hearing the stories of how people happened to find their treasures. Usually people find things at yard sales, estate sales, tucked away in an attic, a basement, a closet or even curbside. Well, not too long ago there were two people who found treasures in their home that would astound the appraisers at the Antiques Roadshow.

First there’s Blair Pitre of Lacombe, Alberta, Canada. He bought a turn of the century bungalow and started work on renovating it.  As he was tearing down the walls, he found movie posters from the late 1920’s/early 1930’s featuring actors such as Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and Joan Crawford. This is an important period in the history of motion pictures because the industry was transitioning from silent to talkies. The previous owner, an 80-year-old woman who died in 2009, was the granddaughter of an early twentieth century movie theater owner in Pitre’s town. As to why the posters were in the wall, most likely she used them as insulation and never thought that they would be worth anything. Pitre had the posters auctioned off to help pay for renovation of his house. One poster, Bulldog Drummond, a drama from 1929 sold for $9,000. Pitre hopes to find more posters in his home. In particular, he is hoping to find Metropolis, since that poster is worth a million dollars.

Next there’s retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Martin Kober. For as long as he could remember, a painting of the Virgin Mary crying over the crucified Jesus has been in his family.  Family lore said that the painting was a Michelangelo. The item hung over the sofa of his parents home, until the day when the younger Kober threw a tennis ball and knocked it off the wall. His parents then wrapped it up and kept it behind the sofa. When Kober retired in 2003, he decided to research the history of this painting. One expert, Antonio Forcellino says that the painting is a actual Michelangelo painting, another expert, William Wallace says that it isn’t. Forcellino bases his claims on his expertise as a restorer, as well as the painting’s similarity to a drawing Michelangelo did that is now at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Wallace states that while the piece is impressive, it was not done by Michelangelo. So, who’s right? Time and more examination by experts will tell.

Still, what I want to know is why are Pitre and Kober so lucky? How come their treasures were right under their noses and all that’s in my walls is insulation and all that is behind my sofa are dust bunnies? This inquiring mind wants to know.

Sources:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Lost+found+Vintage+movie+posters+fetch/3300921/story.html

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/10/12/new.york.painting


[1] Antiques Roadshow is the American version of the BBC television show of the same name that airs on PBS. This show has people bringing their antique and collectible items to appraisers and the appraisers tell them if their items are worth anything. Sometimes the items are worth something and sometimes they aren’t.

 

Your Stuff Has Issues—Condition Issues Part One

June 19, 2010

Lots of people like acquiring collectibles and antiques, as evidenced by the popularity of the Antiques Roadshow on PBS. Yet, when you own something that is older than you, how do you take care of it?  After all, you wouldn’t put a piece of Limoges porcelain from the 1890’s in the dishwasher or use adhesive tape to repair a tear on a U.S. political poster from the early 1900’s. How do you preserve items like these?

Well there are some things you can do to make sure your collectibles last.

Paper Collectibles
1) Obviously, keep the item out of direct sunlight and away from damp, humid places.
2) Don’t use cardboard or adhesive tape with paper collectibles. Over time they will both damage the item.
3) Keep the item in either a protective sleeve, an acid free storage box or frame it.
4) When framing the item, make sure that the frame and backing materials are of conversation quality (i.e. acid free backing and UV protective glass.)
5) Many rodents and insects are attracted to the materials in paper. So, be on the lookout for rodent and insect damage.
6) Keep food and drinks away from the item. Spills and stains can damage an item beyond repair.
7) If the item is 50 years old or older, take it to a paper conservator. To find a paper conservator in the U.S. go to The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC) website http://aic.stanford.edu/.

Porcelain/Pottery
1) Obviously, don’t put it in the dishwasher. The hot water and harsh chemicals will damage the piece.
2) Keep out of direct sunlight.
3) Use a soft 2-inch paintbrush to remove dust from the piece.
4) If the item in question is a completely glazed piece, it can be put in soapy water for a few moments. Wipe the item clean with a soft cloth, rinse it in clear water and let it air dry on a stack of newspapers or in a dish rack.
5) Do not soak cold painted or unglazed pieces in soap and water. Instead clean such items with a damp cloth.
6) Don’t wash items like Hummels, Snowbabies or Village pieces.

These tips should help to insure that your paper and porcelain/pottery items will give you many years of enjoyment. Next week there will be more tips on how to protect your collectibles.

Sources:

http://ezinearticles.com/?Ephemera—How-to-Protect-Vintage-Paper-Collectibles&id=4282821

http://www.loc.gov/preserv/care/paper.html

http://www.bukisa.com/articles/20966_how-to-care-for-valuable-paper-collectibles

http://antiques.about.com/od/ceramicsporcelai1/a/aa011601.htm

http://collectibles.about.com/cs/resourcetips/ht/blhtcleanpot.htm