Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The Often Confusing World of Antiques
QUESTION: Every time I go into an antique mall or visit a show, I become overwhelmed by all the items. How can I make sense of it all?
ANSWER: If you’re like this person, perhaps you’re mind and senses have gone into antiques overload. So many items–furniture, ceramics, pictures, jewelry, old Coca-Cola signs and things that look like the cat dragged them in. So where’s the good stuff?
It all seems so confusing. And the prices for some products seem ridiculous , especially if you’re a beginning collector. But don’t despair. There’s a method to all that antique madness. Believe it or not, there are some main categories.
All in all, there are about 15 major categories and 75 sub-categories. Within these there are other, more specialized areas, such as antique maps and posters, two very specialized categories.
Even though antiques can be categorized generally, dealers and serious collectors use historical periods–Victorian, Roman, Gothic, Civil War, Western and even the1950s–to sort things out.
Often, these terms also indicate different styles.
For instance, in the world of furniture, you’ll probably see examples of English, French, American, and Chinese styles at most antique malls, shows, or auctions. Most English furniture falls into the pre-Victorian or Victorian category while American furniture tends to fall into different types: Pennsylvania, Shaker, New York, etc..
Glassware is the third most popular category. You’ll see all types, including Depression, Venetian, English, and Czech glass. Most glassware collectors specialize in a particular produce line–bowls, tumblers, decanters, etc. There’s also a refined category known as art glass in which you’ll find all those pretty vases blown in amberina, peach blow, and ruby.
These are just some of the many categories of antiques that you can begin to collect. While some tend to be higher priced, you’ll find plenty of small pieces of furniture, ceramic, and glassware to get you on your way.