From Soup Tureens to Coca Cola:
Hot and Hotter Trends in Collectable Antiques
If you’re avid for antiques, then this is your year! Antiques are very hot and getting even hotter.
And, since many of us are tightening our purse strings, it’s especially important now to know the true value of our treasures, and what we should pay for the collectibles we buy. Luckily, the latest 12-page colour-illustrated “Kovels on Antiques and Collectibles” newsletter is now available online at http://www.kovels.com, as well as in print, and it’s jam-packed with information.
Some of the hottest trends in antiques this year, according to Kovels, include any items from occupied Japan, as are World War II memorabilia. Coca Cola collectibles are still highly coveted, as is Copeland Spode. One major new trend – due in large part to the internet – is that there is less of a regional focus on collecting now than there was in the past.
The most popular collectibles are items from the 1940s, 50s, 60s and even the 70s. The main reason is that, as generations of each decade come of age and begin to build their own collections, they tend to collect memorabilia from the era of their own childhoods. Dealers also notice upsurges in popularity of specific items that have been featured in certain media. Items showcased in Southern Living, Martha Stewart Living and Country Living, for example, show a proportionate increase in popularity. If you’d rather not be swayed by trends that are no more than passing fads, consider investing in time-honored traditional categories that will not only hold their current value, but increase in future years.
In the world of traditional antiques, Indian trade blankets are super-hot. Colourful and graphically patterned, trade blankets were introduced in the 1890s, marketed to Native Americans at federally licensed trading posts. A handful of American woolen mills produced the blankets during their heyday, from 1892 to 1942. By the time of World War II, only one trade-blanket manufacturer, Pendleton, remained. But today, vintage trade blankets are highly sought after by collectors. Age, color, pattern, and condition are all factors in their collectibility, although most vintage trade blankets sell for less than $1,000. Labels like these can help collectors identify and date blankets, but presence of a label doesn’t affect collectibility.
Soup Tureens also are on fire. Once a staple on 18th-century dinner tables, show-stopping soup tureens take center stage in any room of your home. Beautiful and curvaceous, the soup tureen made its appearance in the late 1600s to accommodate the multi-course meals that became popular during the feast-filled reign of France’s Louis the Great. As the largest piece in a dinner service, the tureen was also a way to display wealth. Most common are patterns in shades of red or blue. You can find them at antiques shops and flea markets all over the world, as well as at online specialty stores. Always work with a reputable seller, whether online or face-to-face.
With only one in each dinnerware set, a tureen can be more expensive than other pieces. Prices generally can range from $175 to $795, depending on condition. Not all tureens are marked, though dealer Theresa Bishop of Madison, Georgia recommends you check any signatures and markings with the “Encyclopaedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks” by Geoffrey A. Godden.
If you’re wondering what makes a thing antique, dealers say the term is relative. For example, there are very few fishing lures more than 100 years old, and most of them are not nearly as collectible as lures made in the 1920s-1950s. So lures from that era have are known as “antique lures.” Most collectors and sellers agree that the term “antique” refers to things old, desirable, and collectible.
You need to be aware of fantasy items, fakes and reproductions, which are said to have become a fairly serious problem in the field. A sure way to guard against being duped is to get to know a dealer who has developed a solid reputation over a decent amount of time – most will be happy to help validate a piece, even if you didn’t purchase it from them. They’ve built their business on their honor and will not willingly perpetuate less reputable dealer’s fraud.
Fantasy items include collectibles that bear the logo of a company that never made the item in the first place. Some are even licensed by the company the logo belongs to – such as Coke belt buckles that are made to look old but have in reality been manufactured in recent years – under license to Coca Cola. Buyers can be easily fooled by such items, and it’s important to investigate before you make a purchase that you might regret.
Hidden repairs can also pose a problem. Many repairs to old furniture and pottery are so well done, they are hard to spot for the beginner, or by the naked eye, even by old pros. You have to know exactly what to look for. Some dealers use a black light or x-rays to look for signs that an item has been mended. For the casual collector, getting to know an ethical dealer is critical. When in doubt, ask someone who’s been around the block. Failing that, get to know who you’re dealing with. Make sure the dealer will stand behind his or her merchandise. An ethical dealer will disclose the age, condition, any repairs, and whether an item is real or a reproduction.
As to value, prices for top end antiques and collectibles continue to climb. Long-time dealers and collectors believe that recent fluctuations in pricing are most likely due to newbies in the field who are speculating. Especially on the internet, unseasoned “dealers” are charging much higher prices than you would pay at your local antique shops – betting that their customers will pay more for the “convenience” of shopping online. But thankfully, as more and more more stable larger antique auctioneers and dealers use the internet, prices are being standardized to reflect true market value.
Everyone agrees, however, that when you find something you love and you feel it’s a fair deal, it’s worth what you pay for it. When you’re selling to a dealer, the generally accepted standard is 50-60% of “book value” is a fair offer. The trend lately at antique auctions is to add a “buyers premium” to the final bid price. Usually it’s 10%; sometimes it’s as low as 5%. Whatever the percentage, the net result is that you will pay more than your actual bid amount. IA smart bidder will take this into account when bidding.
There are a few splendid resources for anyone who’s interested in antiquing in a serious or even the most casual way, You can find a listing for every single antique show and auction event in Canada in 2009 at Canadian Antique Shows / Antique Auctions / Events for Collectors in Canada hhttp://www.antique67.com/antique_shows_and_auctions.html.
You can view all events for each month, or narrow your search by province, region and city to find what’s happening where you are in Canada at any given time. Each listing specifies precisely what items will be show-cased at that event. There are coin shows, nostalgia auctions with items such as old adverts, postcards, toys and tins, vintage clothing and textiles, shows featuring Edwardian and Canadiana furniture, china, pottery, books, jewelry, tins and kitchenware through-out Ontario every week, all year round.
From August 3-9, you can check out 3/4 of a mile of antiquing at the Summer Antiques Sale which is focusing on fab finds, retro fashion, Hollywood art, classic canoes and vintage fishing tackle, with more than 10,000 items of decorator stock, antiques, vintage fashion, country furniture, fun finds and one-of-a-kinds, with top exhibitors from Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto, Sarnia and western Ontario. It’s held at Sherway Gardens on the Gardiner at Q.E.W, just west of Highway 427. Admission is free. Go to http://www.asinter.com for more info. You can also request e-mail reminders for future events.
Another fantastic resource – Antiques In Canada at http://www.antiquesincanada.com – a fully comprehensive guide to antique shops, shows and services across the country. Whether you are buying or selling, this is the place to start – antiques, collectibles, nostalgia, primitives, art, handicrafts, reproductions, antique furniture, books, china, glass, pictures, oil lamps, jewellery, pottery, clocks, records – and you can view all or search by province and/or region.