Sunday, July 26, 2009

Memories, Momentos, Myths

A cabinet that I bought at auction was the spark to light this week’s post…technically, it is a wine butler…and it is not old…but it can easily be repurposed. We thought it looked neat as a bath piece. You could roll towels and store below, the surround shelf holds bottles, the top…a multitude of things. I have an old shaving stand there now.

Nowadays, there are the traditional antique seekers, but, more and more, in the 21st century, it is about the “look” and repurposing, recycling, reusing. I like the mix of old and new. An old piece, whether it is pottery or furniture, grounds a room filled with new. But, it made me think of the “new” antique dealer…and why dealer? And, what does exemplify "Antique?"
Dealer traces its roots to seller or merchant. The term has come to mean “wheel and deal,” but that evokes the open air flea market. And flea market has its origins in Paris since the term comes from the French marché aux puces, a name originally given to a market in Paris. The fleas were thought to be in the goods because they were of the kind to attract vermin. The earliest English use we have found dates from 1922.

Antique actually relates to paying taxes…The Tariff Act of 1930 defined for the U.S. Customs an antique as an object that was made before 1830 when mass production became commonplace. In 1966, the standard of 100 years old was adopted as the defining characteristic to determine if an object was an antique and its import would be duty-free. Before this Act, importers often claimed all sorts of objects as antiques to avoid the tax.

On December 8, 1993, Title VI of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, also known as the Customs Modernization or 'Mod' Act, became effective. These provisions amended many sections of the Tariff Act of 1930 and related laws. One key change to the Act concerns restoration. If an item has over 50%, it loses the antique status.

Being old, even 100 years or more, doesn't equate to value. Rarity, quality, condition, and provenance all play into the picture, and that is where the antique dealer comes into play. I had to chuckle at a site that sets the parameters for being an antique dealer. It is recommended to have:
knowledge of past trends and styles in art, design and

knowledge of present buying trends and prices in antiques
skill in valuing antiques;

knowledge of how to clean and care for antiques;

skill in handling antiques that may be very old and brittle;

display skills;

negotiation skills;

good customer service and sales skills.

The list also included understanding retail and business along with an interest in antiques and art. The final criteria made me chuckle…the ability to be “patient, tactful, polite, honest, reliable and have a good memory” not to mention they “need to be reasonably strong to lift furniture. They should also have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).

Still, I always say, buy it because you love it not for its possible value which is why I do like the new trend of repurposing…the crystals and old faucet that become a new suncatcher…
the old shutter that is reborn into a cabinet…
pieces of salvage wood that get reworked into a shelf

or redesigned into a birdhouse…

At the same time, in my shop, a beautiful teacup and saucer can be purchased for under $10,
and a Victorian clambroth glass water bottle--$15.
Sure, the "book" values may price the items way over, but those guides are compiled from the high bidders at auctions or shop prices where the market may bear high prices. Sometimes I think people do want to pay a lot for that muffler (to rework that commercial).

But the antique shop is full of memories, momentos, and myths. It should not be mysterious, and every "dealer" should be able to validate the merchandise that passes through their doors. And, if things are priced sensibly the first time, you don't have to deal...remember, folks, most antique dealers mark it up to mark it down anyway! Having a Library Science degree has been invaluable to my business...note how many times "knowledge" is listed in the antique dealer job description. Just because something is old does not make it priceless...unless it is alive!

8 comments: said...

Hi, you are a world of information. Thank you! I want all of the teacups and saucers for $10.00 each that have purple on them. How can I get them.

South Jordan Utah

Noelle Garrett Designs said...

Hi Susan,

I really enjoyed your post this week. I am a buy it because you love it kinda person myself. If I can't live without it, it's mine. . . assuming the price is reasonable of course. Love the kitty. I have an 18yr. old furry little man who is pretty priceless to me. :)

Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

buy it because you love it THAT is the truth ! Unfortunately I looove so many things.
Thanks again for another informative and interesting post.


gail said...

Hi Susan,,thanks for coming by my blog:) Yes, its been a week! Glad its the beginning of a new one for sure. i love seeing the photos of your shop and what you have done. Of course I love your most valuable kitty!!! Too cute, Have a great week, (()) gail
PS its supposed to be 114 today!!!

Anonymous said...

Susan, Great insight on the business. The white whale does it because it is always a learning experience and always fun! This post was great, and I couldn't agree more about buying the things that you love. Keep up the great work.

Beth@GypsyFish said...

Susan, Love this post! Repurpose repurpose's so much fun and so eco responsible.My mom just loves your shop I really hope to visit soon! take care

ann at greenoak said...

i love antiques and definitely the fun independant wierd people in the business and the fun , independant wierd people who buy from the antiquers.......but have to agree, its best to buy becasue you really like it, not for investment......but really whats worth more when it comes to getting rid of something? ...your antique or your made in china piece of misc....they do have a little built in worth that new doesnt....
wish i could see your all your pictures.....ann.

Karen-CharmingsCollectibles said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks for a very informative and amusing post. Love your kitty!