Collecting Vintage Photos
Why would someone want to collect vintage photographs?
People collect them for a variety of reasons. Probably the major reason that people collect vintage photographs is that they enjoy looking at the images. When you look at a vintage photo you are looking into someone else's life. You are looking backwards through time and into an era that no longer exists, nor will exist ever again.
By collecting these images you are helping to preserve them for future generations. And who knows? You may come across an image that is worth thousands of dollars.
It could happen!
How to Decide What to Collect
The hardest part of collecting anything is deciding exactly what to collect.
How specific do you want to be? Will you collect vintage architectural photographs or just houses, or even just houses with women standing on the porch? The ability to be as specific or as all- encompassing as you want to be is one of the benefits of photography collecting.
Some of the most popular subjects are:
- famous people
- post cards
- wedding portraits
- vintage movie photos
- vintage glamour photos
- vintage military photos
Within those categories are hundreds of possibilities for sub-categories. There are other collecting criteria that you can use.
- the artist
- the subject of the image
- the date the image was taken
- a certain area of the country
- signed photographs
All of these make good vintage photograph collections.
Vintage Photos as an Investment
Collecting vintage photos can be an investment but for most people it is just a passion like any other collection. The images will not lose money so you can plan to sell them for at least what you bought them for, at least most of the time. They may not go up in value though so you need to decide if you want to collect or you want to invest. If you wish to invest then gold and crude oil are doing very well at the moment.
There are photographers whose work is so sought after that collectors will pay top dollar, sometimes thousands, for it. Names like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Mary Ellen Mark come to mind. Images by these photographers are sold in galleries and command the highest prices.
Other types of photographs may be great investments without costing your yearly take home pay. Most vintage photographs are very affordable, and many are under five dollars.
A couple of tips for collecting with an eye to investing:
- Try to choose a popular genre.
- Collect originals that are in good condition.
- Display and store them carefully.
Where to Find Vintage Photographs?
You have decided on your genre and your budget, now where do you find these great photos?
Ebay, of course is one of the best resources out there for vintage photographic images. Always work with a reputable dealer. Ask questions and be sure you understand the payment and return policies.
You may find vintage images other places for less money. Consider local venues such as:
- thrift stores
- antique shops
- garage sales
- a relative's attic
How to Care for Your Collectible Photographs
- Use acid free products. Album pages, photo corners and storage boxes will keep your photographs in good condition.
- Use plastic page protectors if you must but make sure that they are PVC free. It is a chemical that will turn your images yellow and can also make them sticky.
- Store them in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. To display our images use metal frames rather than wood. Wood contains acids that can react with your images.
- If you will be matting your image use acid free mat board, acid free linen tape, and acid free photo corners.
- Use glass in the frame that blocks the UV rays. You can get this at many frame stores
Enjoy Your Collection
Most of all, remember to enjoy your vintage photo collection! Add to it as you find things that you absolutely love. Share the images with your family and friends. Hours spent looking at these amazing bits of history are memorable. Once you start collecting you may not be able to stop!
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