Some things to consider when you start a collection

So you’ve decided to start collecting vintage items.  There are so many ways to go about it—you could restore the items you collect, or it even could be a collection of something like folk art or even pottery.  The real question is where do you start?

Whenever you start a collection, there are some things that you need to consider before you dive head first into it.  The first thing that I would do is to decide on an area that interests me and I would love to collect.  It could be McCoy pottery, depression glass, clocks, advertising items or even lunch boxes.

There is a phrase in coin collecting that goes “buy the book before you buy the coin.”  That applies to just about any area of collection, really.  More often than not, you can find a value guide at a book store or even an antique mall.  This gives you a good idea on what’s out in the market and even a price range on the items.

Once you have settled on an area to collect and have picked up a value guide, you need to figure out a budget on what you can spend on your collection.  What I do is I figure out what I can spend every month and I set aside some spending money for my collection.

After all of this, head on out and see what you can find.  You never know where you will find pieces—it could be at an antique mall, flea market, thrift store or even at a swap meet or a garage sale.  It’s fun for me to see where these items turn up.

Here’s a little piece of advice for you: I would create a checklist (either a physical one or one on something like your smartphone) and carry it around with you.  This way you know what you are looking for when you are out shopping.

Happy hunting and I hope that you find many treasures for your collection!

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What reference books do you constantly read?

When you dive into the world of buying and selling, you will find yourself searching for reference books to help identify what you have and help put a price on it.  There are plenty out there, and there’s a book that covers just about every aspect of anything vintage.

When I first started to buy and sell antiques, “Schroder’s Antiques Price Guide” and “Kovel’s Antiques And Collectibles Price List” always seemed to be brought along when I headed out to an auction.  Another book that I never leave with is “A Guide Book of United States Coins” (also known as “The Red Book”) whenever I head out to coin shows.

What reference books do you find yourself constantly reading?

Is it “The Collector’s Encyclopedia Of Fiesta” by Bob And Sharon Huxford or “McCoy Pottery” by Bob And Sharon Huxford?  Do you read “Collectible Glassware from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s” by Gene Florence if you love glass?

What are some of your favorite titles?

The crazy world of coin collecting and its vocabulary

When I started collecting coins when I was younger, I found out that the crazy thing about it was the vocabulary.  It’s the craziest thing that I have ever heard—there’s about Good and about uncirculated (which are both terms that you use to grade a coin).  There’s even a matte proof, an inverted date, and even a hub.

Here’s some more words that will make your head spin:

Bag mark—these are marks on a coin that occur when coins bump into each other.  This could happen when they are placed in bags at the mint or being moved in the bag. Larger size coins typically exhibit more bag marks than smaller ones due to their size.

Rim—this is the raised edge of a coin that’s created by a machine called the upsetting mill. The idea of a rim is that if the edge on both sides of the coin is raised as high as the design it will help protect the coins design from wear.  This way the coin can be in circulation a little longer without being replaced.

Walker—this is a nick name for the United States Walking Liberty Half dollar.  The design was made between 1916 and 1947, and this is thought by some to be one of the US most beautiful coin designs. The current American Silver Eagles that United States makes have the same design on their obverse.

These are just a few of the terms that I’ve heard over the years.  What have you heard?

Reader’s Help: What in the world is this Celluloid piece?

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Not too long ago, I ran into this great vintage celluloid piece at a local flea market.  I know that it’s some sort of holder, but what exactly was it used for?

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In one reference book that I have, the book shows it and does not mention what this is.  Another book stated that it was a tooth brush holder, and yet another states that this is a holder for eyeglasses.

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Needless to say, I got pretty baffled on what this could be.  So here’s my question–what is this piece really for?  Is what one of the books said right, or is this something completely different?

Any information is greatly appreciated.  What do you think it is?

Sometimes directions help out with collecting paper money

Directions play a part in quite a few different ways in collecting, and this definitely includes collecting paper money from the early 1800’s.  During this time, it was up to the banks to produce paper money–they would file for a charter with the United States government, and 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.  They will look for a certain bank, city, or even state that the money was produced in.

If there was a major metropolitan area like Boston or Philadelphia, the more banks were likely to be there.  The east coast of the United States has quite a few different banks that offered paper money.  This was true going west to just past the Mississippi river.  The farther west you went, the fewer banks you would 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.

When you travel up north (in places like North Dakota, Washington State, and even Alaska) they have very few banks at all.  There have been a few bills (collectors also call them “notes”) turn up for a few banks in these states, and are highly sought after.

You need to be careful when you are looking for paper money from the early 1800’s to add to your collection—there are quite a few outright counterfeit bills out there.  Not only that, there were also a lot of bills in circulation in the 1800’s that were counterfeit.  One reason was that there were many different designs that were made by the different banks out there making it harder for you to know if it was real or not when the bills were new.

Another reason is because there were a ton of banks that failed for one reason or another in the 1800’s (the money from these banks are also called “broken bank notes”).  There were lists for shut down banks and fake bills that circulated to merchants or vendors, but the lists were often out dated after a while.  It also took a while to get these lists circulated since mail had to go by stage coach, train or horse.

What fun direction can your collection go?

Three things to consider when you sell items online

When I first started to sell online, there were three things that I found out very quickly.  Here is what I learned:

#1 The price of the item itself needs to be considered.  When I list an item to sell online, what I try to do is to make double on what I paid for the item.  This way I can have a little wiggle room if something happens like paying a little more than expected on something like shipping.

#2 You will be charged listing fees on items you put on selling sites.  On a site like Etsy, they charge a small fee to renew a listing after the item is on the website after a certain amount of time (there is also a fee when you are listing the item for the first time).  You need to watch it like a hawk—this can add up pretty fast and eat into your profits.  After one or two renewals, you need to think about adjusting the price or doing something like taking better pictures.

#3 Packing costs also need to be considered.  The packing costs will include tape, packing peanuts, and potentially the box itself (if you don’t get free boxes from places like the Post Office).  If you do not watch this area very closely, you can completely wipe out any profits if you are not careful.

What have you learned when you started to sell things online?

Happy New Year from Wisdom Lane Antiques!

Did Santa leave a little extra cash for you in your Christmas stocking?  Wisdom Lane Antiques is offering a coupon code for 10% off the purchase price of any item!

From December 26th through January 1st, you can use the coupon code RETURN10 to get that discount.  We have a wide selection of antiques, collectibles, clothing and jewelry to choose from.

I hope that you have a Happy New Year!

What are some parts of a Ceramic piece?

When it comes to a ceramic piece, you can hear some pretty interesting vocabulary words that describe what it’s made of.  Here are some of the words that I have heard over the years:

Bisque – this is clay that has been fired once, and it is an unglazed piece.

Terra Cotta – it is a brownish-orange earthenware clay body.  It’s commonly used for ceramic sculpture or even architectural ornament.  It’s an Italian word that means “baked earth”.

High Relief—it’s a strongly raised or even deeply carved pattern.  This style of carving can get pretty detailed.

There are a lot of words that you will hear that describe what a ceramic piece is made of, or even a specific part of an item.  What kinds of words have you heard?

A small slice of the different types of glass on the market

When you start to get into antiques and collectibles, you will find out there are a wide variety of items out on the market.  It could be just about anything, really.  It could be a specific item, or even a broader area like glassware.

Here are a few of the different types of glassware that I have heard about over the years:

Confetti—this is paper-thin elements of glass that can be worked into either a fused or blown glass piece.  Sometimes you will hear someone call this “shards” and you could find this in something like a paperweight.

Drapery Glass—this is glass sheets that has dramatic folds, kind of what you find in the hanging drapes of your house.

Millefiori Glass—this is an Italian word meaning “a thousand flowers.” This commonly refers to glass items that are made from a lot of murrini slices.

Beveled Glass—this is cold glass (usually a clear, thick plate of glass) with an edge that have been ground and polished to an angle other than 90 degrees. Light is refracted from this, and a prism-like effect is often the result. Bevels come in a variety of sizes, shapes and geometric configurations, which are called “clusters” that is incorporated into leaded glass work.  More often than not, you will find this in windows and even mirrors.

What other types of glassware have you heard about?