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Want to collect antiques? You can!

By Jami Wilmarth, 04/09/2016 - 19:36
Tole Tray

Tole Tray

I remember sitting at Mary's (my mother-in-law) kitchen table — that red shoe-foot hutch table on our site — about 17 years ago, drinking wine, visiting and me playing with the stone fruit in the bowl in the center of the table.

Those hand-painted, hand-carved Italian alabaster fruit pieces fascinated me, and I wanted some for myself. I knew they could be pricey, though. Mary showed me fruit pieces (and veggies and nuts) that could run anywhere from $25-$500. (I even see some crazy veggies today on eBay running more than $1,000. OUCH!, and no, thank you.)

My problem was that I was a single mom working in the newspaper industry where salaries are notoriously low. I didn't have extra money for something like that. I barely made it paycheck to paycheck!

Starting small in antiques collecting

Still, my curiosity got me, so I started screen shopping on eBay. Amazingly, I found some fruit! $20-$30 pieces, I could handle. So I started buying some.

Before long, I had a little wicker basket full of stone fruit pieces. (I wanted a wooden bowl to put them in, but I didn't think that was in my budget.)

I didn't do anything other than stone fruit for a long time. I simply tucked away in my head that I could never afford anything more.

I now know that I was wrong about that. All I had to do was collect one small piece, or one less expensive piece, at a time. No hurry. Just one at a time, as I could and as I found what I liked. And then cherish it.

And then I could have added what I loved and what I could over the years ...

A small pantry box. A wooden bowl. A basket. A painting. A doll.

Just one at a time.

Now that I am in the business, I know that I never had to wait! I could have been enjoying antiques for years! Had I really paid attention and imagined I could afford antiques, I would have gone to antique shows and visited antique web sites. I would have found even some larger pieces of ... say, furniture ... that I liked and put them on layaway. Yes, layaway. Many dealers, including us, will work with people to help them get what they love.

Now I understand that antiques are investments. Once I buy something, unless I choose to sell it, I will have it forever. After all, it's already lasted 150-200 years! And it will increase in value. What store-bought furniture can you claim today will do that?

So don't be scared off by prices. Stick around. Inquire. Learn about the pieces you love.

You simply never know, and then one of these days, you might find yourself with a house full of beloved antique pieces.