How do you start a collection?

You have made the leap and started to attend some auctions, and you have even gone to antique malls and flea markets in your area.  You might have even gone to thrift stores and even some swap meets.  Then it hits you—how do you go about starting a collection of your own?

The first thing to do is to start a collection on what interests you.  If you love enamelware or even records, the best thing I can recommend is to start there—you never know what kinds of cool pieces you will find.

The second step is to figure out how much of a budget you can afford to spend on your collection.  It does not have to be big at first—over time you will want to expand your budget to help with buying the more expensive items.

You will want to spend time (especially when you first start a collection) on things like how to identify real from fake.  It can be a couple minutes a day worth of research to help you out in the long run.

A good tip to remember is to settle on a fairly wide area to start collecting in—this way you can narrow down the topic of your collection over time.  I have seen people start collecting in an area like coins and then settle on Morgan Dollars and Franklin half dollars.

It’s also perfectly fine to have several collections going on—this way you don’t get burnt out looking for just one topic.

When you start to shop for items to add to your collection, start out at shops, auctions and swap meets where you live.  This way you are not spending a lot of money on getting to where you are going. 

Another thing that you can do is to shop around online.  There have been plenty of times that I have run across items for sale online that are cheap enough that you can add it to your collection.

This is a small handful of tips to help with starting a collection.  What tips have you run across?

What are some of the popular toys from the 1980’s?

Every decade sees toys become extremely popular for a certain amount of time.  The Barbie doll started to gain popularity in the 1960’s, and the pet rock was popular in the 1970’s.  What toys were popular in the 1980’s?

1983 saw the Cabbage Patch Kids hit the toy shelves, and the rush was on to grab one anywhere that it was sold at.

When 1984 came about, The Transformers cartoon hit the airwaves.  The toys quickly followed, and they were as popular as the show was.  The race was on to find figures like Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and even the evil Megatron.

Nintendo released the Gameboy in 1989, and you quickly saw people playing games like Super Mario Land and even Tetris.

This is only a handful of the toys that were popular in the 1980’s.  What do you remember playing with?

Changing to the Kennedy Half Dollar

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

When John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, Mint Director Eva Adams was seriously considering changing one of the bigger denominations (either the dollar, half dollar, or the quarter dollar) to feature a portrait of John F. Kennedy.  Several days later, Eva Adams called up Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts and told him that it was authorized.

Jaqueline Kennedy had expressed that she would love to see John on the half dollar, her reason was that she did not want George Washington to be replaced on the quarter.  This was taken into consideration and was also approved.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

There was one problem, and it was a pretty big problem.  There are laws on the books that state that United States coin designs can’t be changed for 25 years without Congressional approval.  The current half dollar design that was in circulation at the time features Ben Franklin on one side, and the Liberty Bell on the other (this design was first issued in 1948, some 16 years before the Kennedy design). 

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

The good thing is that the new half dollar design passed with overwhelming support from Congress.  The Kennedy half dollar is still being made, but not many of them are readily seen in circulation today.  What’s better is that you can find new copies either from a coin dealer that is in your area, or you can order the coins directly from the United States mint.

Since there are plenty of Kennedy of half dollars that can be bought from either the bank or reputable dealers (both in a store setting and online), you can put together a complete set of coins for not that much money.  There are even people that look for different die varieties or coins that have errors.

Have you picked up one of these coins lately?

Sometimes directions can help you out in collecting paper money

Directions play a part in quite a few different ways in life, including when you collect paper money from the early 1800’s. During this time, it was up to the banks to produce paper money. The banks would file for a charter with the United States government—this would allow the bank to produce their own paper money.

Collectors often look for paper money in a couple of ways for their collections—and going a certain direction will often help them out. They will look for a certain bank, city or even the state the money was produced in. I have even heard of collectors looking for anything that is west of the Mississippi. You could even look for something in the southern states like Alabama or even Louisiana.

The east coast area has quite a few different banks that offered paper money. This was true up to the Mississippi (the father west you went there were fewer banks to run into). The gold rush in California that started in 1848 was what helped bring some banks (and eventually a United States Mint in San Francisco) that far west.

If there was a major metropolitan area, the more banks were likely to be there. One way to keep things interesting is to only look for banks that were on the east side of town.

Even up north in places like North Dakota, Washington state and even Alaska have very few banks at all. There have been a few bills (collectors also call them “notes”) to turn up for a few banks in these states. For obvious reasons, these are highly sought after.

What cities and states have you seen on this type of paper money?

A little history of a Victorian red tomato server

During the Victorian era, you could find a serving piece for just about anything.  Olive forks? Got it.  Cake servers?  Yep, got that too.  But have you ever run across a red tomato server?

These items are great.  Tomato servers come in two different variations, one for red tomatoes and one for green.  Why in the world would you have a different one for each type of tomatoes?  Its simple really when you think about it.  The red tomato servers have the openings built in for all of the juice from the tomato to drain through the server and not onto your tablecloth.

The server for the green tomatoes does not have the openings for the fact that the green tomatoes are not as messy and don’t need the openings.  You could even use the green tomato server for fried green tomatoes.

Currently in my Etsy shop, there is a red tomato server that was made by the William Rogers Company.  Its made of silverplate and sports the LA FRANCE pattern.  You can see the piece here.

The Victorian era truly did make a ide variety of serving pieces for the table.  What items have you run across while shopping?

What are some of the different types of finishes that you will see on glassware?

When you dive into the world of antiques and collectibles—especially glassware—you will find many different types of finishes applied to the item.  Frosted glass, satin glass and even pearlescent glass are a few of the finishes that you will run across.  Here are a few more that you will see:

Matte finish—this type of glassware has a non-shiny finish that was made by sandblasting or even applying an acid to dull the finish of the glass.

Luster—this has a shiny (almost a metallic effect) that was made by applying the glass with metallic oxides that were dissolved in acid and fired in a kiln.  After cleaning, the glass has a distinctive shiny surface.

Acid etched—this is glassware that has been treated with an acid to produce a finish that has a frosted appearance.

This is a few of the different types of finished that you will run across.  What types of finishes have you seen?

What is the difference between collectible, antique and vintage?

There are common questions that you will hear when you dive into the world of antiques.  One of the more questions that you will hear is this—what exactly is the difference between collectible, antique and vintage?

The term collectible is often applied to items that are more valuable than what they originally sold for.  I have also seen this term be applied to items that are newer than 20 years old.

When items are vintage, items in this area are at least 20 years old.  Items are usually considered vintage up until they are 99 years old.

When you hear the term Antique, this applies to items that are at least 100 years old. 

There are also other ways to describe the age of an item.  What terms have you heard?

What exactly is the Hobby Protection Act?


The dime in the picture is from the website of Anti-Counterfeiting Educational Foundation

One of the areas that I love to collect is coins.  Not too long after diving into coins, I heard of something called the Hobby Protection Act.  This had me baffled—what exactly is the Hobby Protection Act and how does it apply to coins?

The Hobby Protection Act was passed in 1973 by the United States Congress.  This act covers imitation political items (like buttons and posters) and even imitation Numismatic items (like coins, tokens and even paper money).

The Hobby Protection Act states that any imitation (or reproduction) political or numismatic item is made, it must be marked a certain way.  When it comes to political items, it must have the year it was made on it with all 4 digits on it.  With coins, it must have the word COPY somewhere on the design.

What is the reason for this act to get created?  The main reason is that it’s to help protect collectors from deceptive reproductions.

So, it pays to look at the design so you don’t over pay for an item.  Have you ever run across a political or numismatic item marked like this?

What are some different types Of Sports Cards?

Think a sports card is a sports card?  Far from it.  There are a ton of different types of cards that you could find.  Here’s a few:

Retail Card—these are cards that are sold to major retailers like Kmart.  The cards will often have the name of the store printed on the card as well.  You might even find a card from a now-defunct retailer.

Insert Card—these are cards that are inserted into packs at a staggered rate (like one card being inserted into every 24th pack).  There is also a number on the back of every sports card.  The number on the back of the insert card will be different than the normal set numbers.  The normal set numbers will appear as 1-400 (or however many cards are in the set), the insert cards will have a number like ST1, or PL1.  When you buy a pack, you never know what kind of insert card could be in there.  There even could be a player who became much more famous later on.

Sell Sheets—these are not cards at all.  They are ads that are sent to distributors for cards that are for sale to the public.  This would show what cards you could get in the set and would show the players that are featured in the set.  You could get these ads from a sports cards dealer for pretty cheap, or even free if the retailer is going to throw them away (it never hurts to ask them if it’s possible for you to have it).  They’re also great to display along with a complete team collection!

So, what’s the rarest card that you’ve ever found?

Whimsies for every type of collector

Glass workers spent their “off” hours after completing their regular work schedule creating unusual glass objects known as whimsies.  This includes candy-striped canes, paperweights, pipes, hats…the list goes on and on.
 

A whimsy can also be an item that is made of a product that you usually don’t see it made out of.  This can be something like a Fenton plate made out of hobnail pattern slag glass.

Whimsies were often taken home and given as gifts to family and friends.  They can rarely be attributed to a specific glasshouse or glass worker.  Some say that color or style indicates region or factory, but no one has come up with a perfect identification key other than to talk to the person that actually made the piece.

Highly collectible and usually pricey, whimsies can be a fun collectible.  What examples have you found?