This week, Antique Talk presents, actions that will improve your antiquing skills, even though they have little to do with antiques.

Don't Gamble:  Ever dream of striking it rich?  Problem is, no matter how diligently we work at our respective careers and how much we scrimp and save-most of us have to face the cruel fact that our chances of making that big life-changing score are practically zero.  Ouch!  Casinos and lottery tickets change all that.  Problem is, just as its true in most professions, no matter how hard you work at the art of gambling, the odds of coming out on top don't improve with time and persistence.  In fact, they get worse.  Unlike the roulette wheel, odds of making that big hit or two in the world of antiques do improve, dramatically, with dedication and experience.  Odds will also progress when you free up time and money saved by not helping Donald Trump make his next yacht payment. Here's an added bonus. Antiques are a dream you can live with.  Providing you don't mind looking at an old tavern table or a beautiful painting by a second tier artist now and then. Such old treasures will be your losers-pieces that will prove to be only satisfactory and sometimes super investments. Purchases that don't measure up to Road Show success stories like Claire's garage sale hit. She's the nice gray haired lady who forked over $25 for a labeled Seymour card table.  A Federal Period (1785-1820) masterpiece eventually auctioned off for over half a million dollars.  All with money Claire didn't blow on lottery tickets.

Be an Optimist:  That man who is most afraid of dogs is likewise the one most likely to be bit.  People who achieve specific successes in life, almost always visualize them first.  A low handicap golfer doesn't worry about sand traps or her swing when she stands over the ball. She envisions that Titleist rolling right down the middle of the fairway.  Principles that work well on the golf course seem to apply everywhere else too.  Take your SUV or minivan and follow the back roads when you travel.  Plan trips early mornings on Friday-Saturday when tag sales are ripe.  Bring cash and a checkbook. Life is an ever-changing course of opportunity filled with early pig weathervanes, 18th century highboys and Mickey Mantle rookie cards stuck inside the pages of 1962 Spiderman comic books. Kind of exciting, isn't it?

Be a History Buff:  Keeping up with yesterday is easier today.  Good books, improved libraries and an explosion of worthwhile TV shows all due to cable: The History Channel, PBS, Arts & Entertainment Network, The Learning Channel.  The most pertinent question concerning the merit of something with age is, "Did it make a statement or a difference in its day?"  To understand why collectors covet items associated to historical figures like Dolly Madison, Tom Thumb, Frederick Douglas, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Revere and Albert Einstein one would should first work toward a better understanding of who those people really were.  Ascribing a late 18th century date to bamboo turned Windsor Armchair is easier when you acquaint yourself with the fascination Western society had with things from the exotic "Far East" during those days of 1200 cargo ton East Indiamen Merchant Ships.  Days when sea travel and east/west trade began to blossom.  Antiques are nothing more than little pieces of time: Times worth learning about. Especially when it comes to putting your heirlooms and even your actions into perspective.

Be a Better Business Person by Considering Diversification:  Remember when making money was easy as long as you were heavily invested in the stock market?  Remember when silver went nuts in the 80's?  How about gold in the 70's?  Even real estate isn't quite what it used to be.  One of the safest investments over the past 50 years is the prudent purchase and ownership of objects and art that have scored strong marks in the test of time.  Instead of thinking about antiques as that dusty old furniture in grandma's house-stuff that still doesn't bring money today-think of craftsman like Benjamin Randolph and Gustav Stickley who turned woodworking into an art form.  Instead of conjuring up that silly "Don't touch my Chippendale!" image of antique dealers so often misrepresented in TV sitcoms, think of men like Bill Gates and Bill Cosby who invest in the stuff.  Bill Gates doesn't do business with silly men.  In addition to complimenting the taste and warmth of life, antiques represent a good option in which to divest some of your hard earned dollars.

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