RINKER ON COLLECTIBLES — Column #1
Copyright © Harry Rinker, LLC 2018
Hello Young Lovers Wherever You AreI like antiques, but I love collectibles. Since I make my living writing about both, I suppose I should not express a preference for one over the other. However, I am tired of hearing that collectibles are second rate or that they are just junk and not true antiques. That’s a pile of ____.
The collectibles and antiques market are not two separate entities. They are one and the same. If an antique is something that is classified as one hundred years old, we have only fourteen more years to wait until we have our first twentieth century antique by this age definition alone.
Try telling someone who collects mechanical banks or Art Deco that they are not collecting antiques. There are plenty of twentieth century items that dealers and collectors view as antiques with little or no second thoughts. American art pottery is a good example.
In reality the only real differentiating line between an antique and a collectible is price. If it costs above a thousand dollars, it is generally viewed as an antique. If it costs below two hundred and fifty dollars, it is a collectible. It’s a toss up for objects in the two hundred and fifty to one thousand dollar range.
Collectibles are merely a part of the greater antiques market, just as Orientalia or European porcelains are part of that market. One purpose of this column is to convince auctioneers, dealers, and collectors to take the collectibles portion of the market seriously.
The truth is that grandma and grandpa’s attic in today’s world does not contain early American furniture or even Civil War memorabilia. It contains twentieth-century material. Heck, my grandchild pokes around in a grandpa’s attic that contains Disneyana, Boy Scout items, penny arcade cards, and Hopalong Cassidy stuff.
When I speak to auctioneer or dealer groups, I am amazed at how few know anything about the collectibles market. It is almost as though they consider themselves too good to handle this type of material. The collectibles market is as sophisticated as the upscale portion of the antiques market. In fact, I think it is better organized and has far more selling and buying vehicles than its expensive counterpart.
Since so few understand the collectibles market, I have decided to write a column about collectibles, and only collectibles. You won’t find any information here about Chippendale furniture, Meissen porcelain, or Tiffany silver. What you will find is plenty of facts about the mass-produced items of the twentieth century that constitute so much of the childhood of our children, our parents, and ourselves.
It’s easy to identify a collectible. Take an object and ask yourself it if fits three or more of the following five criteria—mass produced, made after 1900, made in America, collected in America (no European would be caught dead with a collection of Avon bottles), and the majority of similar items in the same category sell for between fifty cents and two hundred dollars. In fact, if your item fits just two of these criteria, chances are it is a collectible.
Why am I in love with collectibles? First and foremost it’s the people. People who collect collectibles are enthusiastic and vital. Equally important, they are fanatics.
Honestly, I do not know a more abnormal group than the collectibles collectors. They are possessed—possessed with having fun, learning about what they own, and exchanging that information with anyone who is willing to listen I think the average collectibles collector knows far more about his objects than does the average antiques collector.
Second, collectibles are affordable. You can actually assemble a good beginning collection in almost every collectible category for between five hundred and one thousand dollars. Even a person on an extremely limited budget can find something to buy, possess, and love. There are no million dollar tilt-top tables in the collectibles field.
Third, collectibles are a wonderful justification for adults continuing to play with things they enjoyed as children. Let’s face it! It’s more fun to play with the goodies than having them sit in a china cabinet, on a shelf, or in a box stored under the bed. In most cases, if a piece is damaged, you can always buy another one.
Nostalgia is one of the biggest draws in the collectibles field. I collect Hopalong Cassidy memorabilia, not Roy Rogers or Gene Autry memorabilia, because Hoppy was and still is my cowboy hero. Collectibles allow you to be proud of your youth. You are helping make all those things your parents thought were so dumb part of history.
Roll out those Barbie dolls, the high school letter sweaters, and the ill-fitting uniforms from your World War II or Korean War service. In today’s world, they’re all collectible.
Sometimes this column will be serious and factual. Whenever possible I’ll try to throw in a touch of humor. Each column will give you some information that you can use to advantage in your business or collecting interests.
My remarks will be opinionated and occasionally controversial. I may like antiques and love collectibles, but I do not worship them. I have developed a reputation over the years for saying what I think regardless of the consequences. You won’t always agree with my version of the truth. When you do not, send a letter to the editor.
The one thing I do promise is that I will do my best not to make the column dull. Gosh, we have more than enough boring columns about antiques now.
Today’s collectibles are tomorrow’s antiques. Follow this column, and I’ll prove it.
Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Selected letters will be answered in this column. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Photos and other material submitted cannot be returned. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5955 Mill Point Court SE, Kentwood, MI 49512. You also can e-mail your questions to email@example.com. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered.
You can listen and participate in WHATCHA GOT?, Harry’s antiques and collectibles radio call-in show, on Sunday mornings between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM Eastern Time. If you cannot find it on a station in your area, WHATCHA GOT? streams live on the Internet at www.gcnlive.com.