A Beginner's Guide To Collecting

Creating and expanding collections has long been a favorite American pastime that shows no sign of slowing in the 21st century. There are many avenues to explore when setting out to secure collectible treasures that may indeed be a part of one's home for many generations to come. Whether a novice or seasoned collector, there are several practical guidelines you should consider when beginning a search for antiques and collectibles.

If you are new to "collecting," you must first decide what are your specific interests. True collectors often look beyond price tags and buy pieces they cherish. Browsing through magazines and the web, visiting art galleries and scouring antique shops can often assist with learning to define specific collectible choices. Reading relevant books, taking applicable courses and attending trade shows are all effective ways to educate yourself about desired items. Experienced collectors recommend building a rapport with reputable dealers, as well as actually handling collectibles in order to learn about their intricate construction.

Once you have clearly defined the focus of your collection, you must determine what paths to pursue in order to locate them. Flea markets have long been a traditional favorite for finding an incredible variety of items. There is always the chance of finding a bargain "prize" at a flea market. Flea market dealers do not have nearly as much overhead as do dealers who own retail stores. Thus, they are able to pass their savings on to the consumer.
 
Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your flea market excursions:

  • If you are searching for "once in a lifetime finds," get there first!
  • If your goal is to secure the best bargains, stop back at the end of the day.
  • If you see a great item at a super price, do not hesitate to buy the piece. Chances are that if you walk away and think it over, the piece will be gone by the time you get back.
  • Consider bringing price guides. These publications are either general or focused on specific items and can help you recognize a bargain or avoid overpaying.
  • Always negotiate for the best price. (Consider buying two or three of the same pieces at one time for a better price.)
  • Have cash ready for your purchases.
  • Consider consulting guidebooks such as The Official Directory to U.S. Flea Markets that offers listings of upcoming flea markets.

If you are in search of antiques, you may consider these options:

  • Do not judge an antique store by its exterior appearance. Be prepared to stop at every shop, regardless of its location or how unwelcoming it may look.
  • Many publications offer calendars that list antique sales and exhibits.
  • If you are a novice antique collector, find an expert buyer or dealer that can be your mentor. 
     

A contemporary and rapidly growing trend involves shopping for antiques online. Many web sites offer the online viewer the ability to browse the inventories of hundreds of antiques dealers from the U.S. and Europe who sell upscale art and antiques at fixed prices.

When setting out to establish or expand a collection, remember to consider all of the many traditional as well as contemporary options available for locating and purchasing your desired items. Do your homework, and examine the various alternatives for securing merchandise, both in person as well as online. Lastly, have fun collecting!

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Comments 14 comments

quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

Collecting requires storage space and so I don't collect stuff any more. However I use storage space belonging to somebody else! I even get paid for it! Can you guess what I am talking about?


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Yes! You're a dropship collector! You're a rent-a-storage squatter! You're a pack rat! You're a... :)


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

Nopes! You got it wrong. Just one more guess!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

OK... You're a Robin Hood! You break into people's houses in the middle of the night and leave LCD wide screen TVs and home theatres! :) Come to my house tonight! I'll leave the bathroom window unlocked!


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

Amazing indeed! You got it wrong twice!

Well, it's like this. The collectible item in this context is money! I collect money! I use the banks' storage space to store my money. They pay me for it. They call it interest. I don't care what they call it, but the fact remains that I use the storage space of someone else and even get paid for it!!! :)

Gotcha this time!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Hey, I have a great business concept for ya! I won't charge you for storing your money in my pocket and I'll even pay you interest! If you can catch me! :)


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

Non capisco!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Ok, it's rather simple. I can replace your bank for you. You give me all your money. I hold onto it. Then there will come the time for me to pay you the interest on the money. That's when you'll look everywhere for me but won't find me... I will have ABSCONDED with your dough! Hey, after all, I AM half Sicilian! :)


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

You ARE brilliant indeed! I would never have been able to figure that out! :)


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

See, we're a business match made in heaven. So please take all the money out of your mean, silly bank, make sure that it's in small unmarked bills, put it into a cardboard box, and my cousin Vito will be dropping by in the Mafia Staff Car to pick it up. It's been a pleasure doing business with you! Tell your friends! :)


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

We don't keep cardboard boxes at home due to storage problems, the same reason why I "store" my money in the bank. So, I'll write a check in your favor.

It's been a pleasure doing business with you. :)


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Er... unfortunately the only check Cousin Vito takes is a pulse. Before he decides that the unfortunate subject needs more lead. :)


Don Simkovich profile image

Don Simkovich 6 years ago from Pasadena, CA

I always wanted to collect items and used to be intrigued by coins. But I guess other hobbies got in the way and it seemed I could never quite figure out what was or was not valuable.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I've always been intrigued by coins as well. When I was a teenager I started putting away what were then called Square Nickels or Canadian 5 cent coins that had polygonal edges. There are endless resources on the net with thousands of listings of coins and their values... maybe I should find out what they're worth... and then I'd have to find where I stashed them all! :)

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