All that Glitters …….
This has been a very interesting week for people doing what I do, that is reselling art and antiques. I learned of a profound shift in one of the earliest aggregators. These people bundled or represented at first 500 stores and over time with the companies sale, thousands of stores. At first to be included was prestigious now I really don’t know If it means much. Because of the mountains of money spent on marketing in the early days and the very hard work dealers and the company made to make the experience a positive one I expect some positive sentiment remains. In various attempts to make the firm more profitable they became a great deal larger and entered areas that where highly problematic. I learned of a partnership they had entered with a large wholesaler and yesterday a client told me they where offering very inexpensive items that where better suited elsewhere.
Shipping costs might very easily exceed the price of such a piece and if it is returned they pay this twice. You can be certain the almost no claims where made that could be subject to dispute. So it is roughly like a luxury car maker has slapped their logo on the car that would not run.
Another firm has made a more or less successful attempt at the holy grail. The ultimate disruption. They are learning probably fairly rapidly that a small handful of clients will take all of your time. Dealers are happily participating and I imagine shortly this group will dominate the online market.
Most of us have probably have had the experience of buying on line and receiving something that vaguely resembles the pictures shown. For sanities sake a good number of clients pre-shop on line. We do the same. Our eyes for the sake of efficiency often will fill things in that are missing. This happens subconsciously and more often when we are tired and as we get older. This reflex helps make streaming video possible. So what looks fine at first glance might require a good restorers attention. As a general rule great stuff does not make it to sale. It is acquired long before this has a chance of happening.
Great Stuff is largely original in construction and condition. For the most part not many wealthy people and middle class almost non exsistant until the19th century. Provincial centers had some objects but generally simple. The Grand Tour and various wars developed the market for “antiques” many where not old at all. Sometimes made of old wood. Sometimes a master like Rodin or DaVinci would make a Roman carved fake to pay the bills and because their own work was not appreciated yet. I am than amused that there are fake antiquities that are real Rodins. There certainly are real and beautiful pieces but you should take your time and understand what exactly the dealer is saying. More importantly will you be allowed some time to live with the piece. If this relatively simple request is too much you know everything you need to know. A good question is if they will help you resell the piece if you move or for some other reason. If there is some reason they are not willing to sell it again it is good to know before you buy it.
Just because collecting is a little complicated does not mean you should avoid it. To the contrary. At the moment prices are very good. Experts are almost non existent. Competition is more straight forward. Your chances of spotting something amazing are not bad. Happy hunting.