How to be a collector

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How to be a collector

Post by dantheman on Sun Apr 12, 2015 7:16 am

New collectors often ask for advise about the early stages of building up a collection so here is a thread where the novice and the old hand can discuss the do's & do not's of pottery collecting

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by dantheman on Sun Apr 12, 2015 7:24 am

I'll start the ball rolling with the advise I was given when I first began to collect Poole pottery, I ignored it and now have over 50 pieces of Poole that are virtually unsellable.
Always buy the best you can afford, quality is never out of fashion but commonplace and poor examples will always be as cheap as chips.
It's OK to buy a few bargains so you can sell them on at a profit to fund the purchase of a quality piece but if you buy these bargain basement pots then you have to sell them on !

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by NaomiM on Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:24 pm

Avoid 'fashions'. I was caught be a mottoware bubble about ten or so years ago when prices for 19thC Branum ware suddenly went up, pulling Torquay mottoware and French Quimper with it which was 'poor man's Branum. Branum is still collectable, albeit at a loss if you bought at the top of the market, but the rest is virtually unsalable.

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by NaomiM on Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:32 pm

If you're going to buy speculative pieces off eBay and at carboots then know the difference between student and professional potters' work. I have boxes full of the former.

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by 22 Crawford St. on Sun Apr 12, 2015 2:21 pm

Considering the real beginner - It's easy to say but the best you can from the start, but the beginner doesn't know. He/she does not know what the price is, what quality is and why and whats a classic or a fad. Naomi mentions telling the difference between Student / Pro work and that is the crux of the matter - quality. I am a firm believer in having to train the eye to understand ceramics. It's similar with most things, architecture, furniture, textiles, 99% of what the common man sees each day is mass produced crap. We've got used to seeing the 1% the special stuff.

My suggestions is to go to car boots and charity shops and but anything that looks hand made. Don't pay more that a few pounds and take them home and research them. This does not cost much, spreads the net wide and gets you used to buying things outside your 'safe zone' - Trust in the force. The research is half of the fun. Finding out that that ugly chicken you liked the look of is in fact unusual or special and worth something is very rewarding - This strategy also gets you used to looking for hand made ceramics in a sea of crap. Speed filtering. Obviously most of what you find will be rubbish and of little value but it's a learning curve, you will learn a lot for a few pennies. Jumping straight in and spending 100s on ebay is in my mind a recipe for disaster.

Going forward;

DO NOT - Collect just one thing - You will miss so many good finds - have an open mind!
DO NOT - Buy damaged goods, you will regret it.
DO NOT - Buy things just because others are bidding and it looks popular.

DO - Appreciate your collection - display and use don't just box-hoard
DO - Buy quality, special things make a collection, 100s of average pieces don't.
DO - Sell/give away things that no longer mean anything to you
DO - Understand why you are collecting - For profit? To gather information = share online? Bored? Website?


I also have a lot that would not sell well and probably breaks the rules. Such is life.
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Re: How to be a collector

Post by dantheman on Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:18 pm

I agree in the main with your advise but I have bought many chipped pots that I have on display and absolutely love, in fact my number one favorite piece has damage.
In my opinion a great example with damage is far more desirable than a poor example in mint condition.

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by 22 Crawford St. on Sun Apr 12, 2015 4:08 pm

Yes I agree - I have damaged rare things that i still love. But - my advice to beginners is don't.. if I showed you a collection of average pieces and most were damaged would you not cringe and run a mile?

Best policy is not to set out to buy damaged stuff.
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Re: How to be a collector

Post by dantheman on Sun Apr 12, 2015 4:23 pm

yes you are right, my early buys with damage are not on display

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by bistoboy on Sun Apr 12, 2015 4:52 pm

my only advice is buy what you like and what you can afford! Forget about profit potential, trends, markets rising or falling, named or unnamed, broken or in perfect condition. If you like it, buy it. One of my favourite pieces is a cracked and chipped piece of New Hall that is worth nothing commercially. But i just love it for it's over 200 years of history. If you're collecting to perhaps sell on at a future date - forget everything i have said and go with those before me :-)
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Re: How to be a collector

Post by big ed on Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:00 pm

dantheman wrote:I agree in the main with your advise but I have bought many chipped pots that I have on display and absolutely love, in fact my number one favorite piece has damage.
In my opinion a great example with damage is far more desirable than a poor example in mint condition.

totally agree Dan , I would not have been able to afford some great pieces if they were in pristine condition , i couldn't care less about a little chip or in the case of old historic pieces cracks etc , most display just as well and can only notice damage or wear when really close up ,also as Bisto says in some cases the really old pieces are bought and collected for their historic interest .
I'd say buy some books and do a little research into what takes your fancy .
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Re: How to be a collector

Post by Guest on Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:14 pm

This is a great thread with good advice, and as a beginner have spent just small (one or two pounds) taken the pots home and learnt a great deal by checking them out using this forum and auction sites etc. Because I've been trawling flea markets and the like for years but not collecting pottery as such, you become accustomed to mass produced stuff and out of the ordinary things stand out. I make lots of mistakes but not costly ones.

I've been a member here for a year now and the amount of info I've learnt is amazing, So thank you all.
Its great knowing who made something from the mark when the seller says I don't know who made it.

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by big ed on Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:24 pm

it's great knowing some stuff that don't have marks at all ,they can be very profitable at times .
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Re: How to be a collector

Post by NaomiM on Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:26 pm

I don't mind chipped and cracked when it's by a potter who's work would otherwise be out of my price range. You can always sell them on to other collectors who, again, can't afford the perfect pieces.
However, don't buy speculative pieces that are damaged, especially utilitarian/standard wares. Thryre liable to be by unknown or little league potters who's pristine pieces only sell for a few quid, so damaged pieces would be worthless.

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by 22 Crawford St. on Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:51 pm

If you had to send a BEGINNER to a fair with your money the first thing you would say to him was 'RULE NO 1 =don't buy damaged goods' - Dealer will charge full whack for damaged item.

"advise about the early stages of building up a collection"
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Re: How to be a collector

Post by NaomiM on Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:56 pm

22 Crawford St. wrote:If you had to send a BEGINNER to a fair with your money the first thing you would say to him was 'RULE NO 1 =don't buy damaged goods' - Dealer will charge full whack for damaged item

My parents sometimes buy me pottery they think I'll like for Christmas, based on advice from antiques shop keepers. They always get ripped off, and they've never found me anything worth keeping.

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by NaomiM on Mon Apr 13, 2015 2:05 am

I would say Rule No.1 is always buy what you like. If you've spent a tenner on Easter Eggs that you've enjoyed eating then you'll not begrudge the money you've spent, nor expect to make a profit on it at some later date. Same with collecting. Whether or not you get your money back and a bit extra when you come to sell up should be a secondary consideration.

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by big ed on Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:52 pm

NaomiM wrote:
22 Crawford St. wrote:If you had to send a BEGINNER to a fair with your money the first thing you would say to him was 'RULE NO 1 =don't buy damaged goods' - Dealer will charge full whack for damaged item

My parents sometimes buy me pottery they think I'll like for Christmas, based on advice from antiques shop keepers. They always get ripped off, and they've never found me anything worth keeping.

I would never dream of sending anyone at all to buy for me .
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Re: How to be a collector

Post by tenpot on Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:19 pm

it is a problem when people know you collect they keep giving you things,
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Re: How to be a collector

Post by NaomiM on Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:06 pm

True, tenpot. You can't tell them when they hand it over at Christmas that their gift sucks and not to waste their money next year.

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by dantheman on Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:32 pm

my family don't buy me pots because I could tell them that

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by NaomiM on Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:42 pm

I tell them to give me money so i can treat myself at the New Years Day fairs, but that still doesn't stop them from buying me stuff. And they don't negotiate. They think there must be something wrong with it if the dealer drops the price.
I once sold a load of my parents' furnature at auction when they downsized. One little Edwadian side table my dad said was worth a lot of money. because when he'd bought it the dealer had phoned him up a few days later and asked for more money - And he paid it!!! It sold for about 30.

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by denbydump on Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:43 pm

It's really the don'ts, rather than the dos, that are more important,
to avoid becoming an OCD basket-case like myself!

Maybe it should have been titled "How not to be a Collector"
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Re: How to be a collector

Post by NaomiM on Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:44 pm

Big Laughter

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by NaomiM on Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:45 pm

If you don't want to be a collector then pick a speciality, do loads of homework, and don't get emotionally attached, and sell regularly; don't hold onto anything that's liable to depreciate. Sell what's hot at the moment; buy what's not.

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Re: How to be a collector

Post by denbydump on Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:47 pm

Oh, for that Crystall-ball Naomi!
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