Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Antiques" & Collectables

Our interest in “antiques” and collectables probably started through watching David Dickinson’s “Bargain Hunt” when we subscribed to PayTV several years ago. Contestants were given a sum of money and then let loose in a market where they had to buy items to sell at auction at a later date.
The winner would be the couple who made the most “profit” at auction. I put the “ ” around the word profit, because the result for both competing teams was often a loss and the winner was deemed to be the team that lost the least.

Throughout the many episodes we saw, we started to become familiar with some of the types of items purchased. One favourite was iridescent glass by John Ditchfield. Another was an occasional piece of Charlotte Rhead pottery.
We started to make infrequent visits to antique/collectable shops and looked out for the names that had been made familiar through our viewing of the show, but the few items we came across were well outside of our budget and we could never justify the expense of purchasing them.
That did not prevent us from admiring those items as works of art and we could always enjoy the pleasure of stumbling across a piece that we recognised before we read the label. In fact, during our recent trip to the Wagga Antique Fair (see previous post), I spotted and identified a Charlotte Rhead vase on a distant stall well before we reached it.

Charlotte Rhead’s work is a personal favourite. It is not common so the shops are not overrun with her pottery. This makes it a bit of a challenge to find – which adds to the pleasure of spotting something of hers. Good examples of her work can be between $500-$1000, so I will never add one to my collection of bits and pieces (a recent purchase of two pottery whiskey bottles for $4.00 each is more fitting to my budget).

Gloria is always on the lookout for glass. She regularly watches “Sun Sea and Bargain Spotting” on ABC2. This show is a more extravagant version of the “Bargain Hunt” concept and involves shopping for collectables at European markets and later selling the purchases at a British market.
Gloria is amazed at the very cheap cost of Murano glass at those markets. Some pieces are picked up for a few pounds each – the same pieces here would be sold for well over $100.
Glass is usually very often difficult to identify. A few pieces are signed and some retain the manufacturer’s stickers, but the majority tends to be anonymous. Recently we saw a bud vase selling for around $140 that was advertised as “possible Murano”. Gloria later bought a smaller but identically styled vase for a tiny fraction of the price at another shop. I have since seen a vase exactly the same as Gloria’s on ebay being advertised as retro “Christina” from Sweden. What a difference a bit of ambiguity can make to the pricing of “collectables”.

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