I'm sure you've heard a dealer or collector described as having a "good eye."  "Doesn't Mary have a great eye?"  Such a comment does not imply that Mary's other eye is not good.  It means that Mary sees the artistic beauty in objects and settings.  She is able to discern the beautiful from the bland.   To improve your odds of ferreting out antique treasures in today's competitive environment, it is important to train, not just your eye, but all your senses.  Ears can serve you well after they've become conditioned to recognize what certain stock words really mean when used by silver-tongued auctioneers and salesmen.  I call them, Really Mean Phrases.

When he says "It looks like an old one to me!" he really means, "It's not old, in fact its probably brand new.  But it sure looks old!"

When he says "This is a Chippendale style sofa!" he really means, "This is not an 18th century Chippendale sofa, it was simply styled to look like one."

When she says "It came right out of a house!" what she really means is "I removed it from my own house this morning after I paid top dollar for it at auction yesterday."

When he says "It's had a little work done to it," he really means, "It's undergone major restoration that I'm unwilling to point out."

When he describes the Winslow Homer watercolor as, "artist signed," what he really means is "Some rinkydink painter scribed Winslow Homer's name on his work."

When he describes pottery or china as having a "little hairline," he really means, "it's cracked."

When he describes glass as having a "little ding," he really means, "it's broke."

When he goes on and on about the table's "beautiful old wood," what he really  means is the wood is old, but the table isn't.

When an auctioneer spends five minutes describing huge number of left bids she must execute for parties who inspected the goods but were unable to attend the auction, then says, "sold to the desk," or "sold up here to bidder number(so and so)."  Keep in mind that almost all auctions have reserves often exceeding the number of left bids, and what she really might be saying is "This item failed to reach the bidding minimum we prearranged with the consignor and therefore remains unsold."

When she says, "You're the expert," what she really means is "You had better be an expert."

When he says, "I'm selling it for someone else," he really means, "I'm not about to put my name and reputation behind it."

When he advertises a government foreclosure auction of rare oriental rugs, hand-carved furniture, and precious oriental porcelain his ad really means, cheap new junk sold with high reserves.

When he says, "This is an antique folks!" about a colonial style object, he really means, "It has age, but it's not a full-period, two-hundred year old piece."

When he says "I'm offering it to you for less than I paid for it," he really means, "I paid too much."

When she says, "I clip and save Antique Talk every week.  I think it's the best antique column going," what she really means is, "I'm Wayne's mother!"

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Wayne Mattox Antiques | 82 Main Street North | Woodbury, CT 06798 | 203-263-2899 | wayne@antiquetalk.com
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