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!