I wanted to share this fabulous article I received yesterday. It was written by one of our ISA teachers and friend Leon Castner. Leon is a brilliant appraiser. He worked as an auctioneer at one point in his career and is extremely well versed in today’s resale personal property market.
Lorie and I receive calls daily from individuals who assume just because their items are old they MUST be valuable. I remember well the joy and pride my mom had collecting antiques. She would beam while thinking this treasure will one day “be worth something”!! Well, nope, it has not appreciated, in fact its actually depreciated. I know what you are thinking as I have heard the words in my own mind many times… “but mom said it would be worth something one day!!”.
What an internal struggle as we want to do right by our parents and not under sell their treasures. Unfortunately the days of antiques appreciating are behind us. Just think about it, there are A LOT of us out there whose parents collected these one time treasures…. now imagine how much of it is floating around now! Typical older furniture “antique” or not is just not something the public desires to have in their homes, not to mention much of its functionality is obsolete today.
With that said it is really cool to have a piece or two eclectically mixed in with your decor. And if you still love antiques you are in luck because you’ll be able to decorate on a very inexpensive budget! For the rest of us, go to an estate sale and find your own treasure. Create an unique statement that is all your own!
Enjoy Leon’s article:
Almost everyone, without exception, automatically thinks that any antique rises in value. The words appreciate and antique go together like horse and buggy. Unfortunately it’s not true. Antiques do NOT always go up in value. In fact,
they are subject to the whims of the economy and consumer likes and dislikes just like everything else. It just seems like
they always go up in value.
The word appreciable means large enough to be measured. From an appraisal standpoint it also means increasing in
value over time. The word depreciable, on the other hand, means decreasing in value over time. The meanings of both
concepts must include the perceptions of parties in the market. The reason things appreciate is because the people involved
in the buying and selling of them deem those items worthy of increasing. They don’t just increase because they exist or
Let me give you an example. Plain, country stoneware crocks and jugs have always been sought by those wanting to buy
antiques. Since they are no longer in production (except for reproductions) the supply was thought to be rather limited.
People saw the prices escalating over time and believed that they would continue. Rise they did and over a rather
long period of time. But eventually everyone had a crock or jug that wanted one. These people soon discovered they
held no modern purpose (no one needs to preserve butter, milk, or cheese) and a few quickly fill up a contemporary
kitchen counter. The result was that people began selling their “collectible” crocks and jugs. Eventually there weren’t
that many people out there that wanted them anymore.
Country as a decorating theme had seen its heyday. Whether this was too many Country Living type magazines, prolific
antique malls, or changing contemporary tastes, no one knows. The fact is that country is no longer king. All those
crocks and jugs that sold for $50-100 are now sitting in shops with prices half of what they originally brought. Yet the
items are old. They are not in production. They are even quaint. But they have faded in the market.
This happens with all kinds of other things as well. Old bisque head Victorian dolls, on the whole, are not as
exciting as they once were. Neither is pressed and pattern glass or Limoges dinnerware. Their cycles have peaked
and they have retreated.
Surprise…antiques can depreciate just like the new car you drive home from the dealer. Take new furniture. Order it
from the manufacturer with custom fabric or wood. Pay a bundle. Take it home. You’ve lost half the value. The same
can happen when you purchase something at an antique shop!
“Investment” antiques are not exempt. They are simply items (usually of extreme high perceived value) that are purchased
because one thinks they will rise in value. No thought is given to using the item. No interest in beauty or form. No appreciation of craftsmanship or make . These items are hawked to the public as always escalating. Beware!
No such thing.
There are certain items that tend to go up over time, but there is no guarantee they will continue. (Just think Real
Estate.) That’s why the most trusted axiom you hear in every article about buying antiques is the most important.
Buy what you like and you won’t be disappointed.
Antiques are to be enjoyed like any other object. They are to be used, not just put in a corner, closet, or safe. They
have warmth, charm, and history. Once people lived with them as functional pieces. You must do the same. If you
do, you will find the investment was indeed fulfilled, if not your pocketbook or portfolio, at least in your soul.