Two Myths About Antiques
When I was a young man looking for a career, I walked into a small San Antonio, Texas business designing stock market software to be used in the old Radio Shack TSR-80 "Basic" computers. "How many years experience do you have in technical stock market analysis?" Old Mr. Coppick asked me. "None," I answered. "Well, then tell me about all the college courses and job experiences you've acquired writing software," he said. "I don't know anything about computers," I answered. "Why in the blazes should I hire you?" Mr. Coppick said. "Sir," I replied. "Most people who think they know something about market trends know less than people who know nothing at all. College kids who who've been monkeying around with computers have more interest in Pac Man and Space Invaders than they do in the business that you've spent your life inventing. I, knowing nothing, am the perfect man to learn your business because I have not yet developed preconceived incorrect ideas. You won't have to waste ten minutes unteaching things I never should have learned in the first place!" Incredibly, I got that job. One of the reasons being, my improvised arguments were not trivial to a gentleman having suffered too many young know-it-alls in his life. That in mind, here are two of the most rampant fallacious antique dictums that you might think consider unlearning:
1. The Rarer an Antique is the More it's Worth – NOT! Fact is; an antique that is so rare that there's only one of two of them in the whole world is probably not going to be worth a whole lot of money because it would not fall into a "collectible" category. For instance: How many Mickey Mantle Rookie cards are in circulation? Thousands. Why, then are they worth big bucks in good condition? Because they are findable, gradable, tradable and collectible. People like baseball and therefore baseball cards. New York has lots of people and the Yankees have had great success over the years-therefore more Yankee collectors abound than say, Washington Senator collectors. People covet Mickey Mantle relics because he was a handsome star who had a name that sounded like apple pie and rookie cards have attained some kind of premium status. Bottom line is; if there was only two 1952 Marvin Thongberry soccer cards ever made and you owned both, you'd be wise trade your two soccer cards and about $10,000 cash, for a much more common and collectible 1952 #311 Mantle. Who collects Marv Thongberry? Art proves this point as well. Works by artists like Picasso and Van Gogh fetch millions of dollars and hang on museum walls not because of their scarcity but because both painters created a large body of work to be studied, appreciated and compared against other visionaries working in their respective periods. Van Gogh produced over 1600 original works of art in his short sick lifetime. Had he only of painted one work, even a masterpiece of swirling stars over the village surrounding his sanitarium in St. Remy, Don McLean would never have written his 1972 classic-Vincent. And you would probably never have heard of that single undiscovered masterwork we now know as The Starry Night.
2. An Antique is Something 100 Years Old – NOT! The only place where such a definition might hold some relevance is an obscure customs office still maintaining regulations concerning horses and hitching posts. In addition to objects with 75+ or 100+ years of pedigree, the definition of an antique has expanded to include objects that have acquired historic value because they made a statement in their day or are making a statement now. Therefore a 1959 Barbie is an antique because, as a pioneer model, it changed forever the way young girls and toy makers look at dolls. That same model, reintroduced say ten years later, would not be an antique unless it was produced as an anniversary Barbie with clothing and stylistic changes relevant to 1969-wilder hair, hippie clothes, psychedelic packaging, etc. An antique is a mini time capsule-something old with historic relevance or decorative class.