On Collecting – the Literature
There are a few things that you need to have before you start collecting antiques. Naturally, you will need to provide the adequate conditions and have appropriate tools to store, handle and display your collection. However, we will get to this matter later in the next article. Let’s start by taking an in-depth look at what will you need before you start collecting.
The indispensables – Reference literature
The first thing you will need is a lot of reference literature. Remember that you can always buy items just because you like them, but that’s only scratching the surface of this world. If you want to engage fully, you have to learn about things in order to love them.
The size of your referent literature library may vary from one to a few hundreds of books depending on your field of interest. Referent literature is usually hard to find online and if you manage to find an e-version of the book you are looking for it will cost you a lot. Preferably, you should try and find or order online a hardcopy. Don’t be alarmed if you see the overwhelming quantities of bibliographies, encyclopedias, lexicons etc. published regarding a certain topic, as reference books are used only when the need arises and there is no need to read all of it. The abbreviations might look a bit confusing but you don’t have to be a historian or a scientist to understand how to read the reference literature, as it is usually all in the introduction of the book. Most of the terms are standardized nowadays so you will get the hang of it quickly. We will not give you here a list of abbreviations and terms since it’s different for every category of antiques. However, we will go through some terms in our bibliophile section later on.
Ok, you got the books, but you see that there are no prices, now what? The next step is getting catalogs with actual estimates. You can get older catalogs online from auction house records but they usually charge (in some cases a lot) for membership. I strongly suggest taking a trip to ask the owner of an antique book store where can you get the catalogs. Keep in mind that you can see just the estimates when you get them. Real value is a totally different thing. The value of an item is determined by way more factors than just auction house estimates. The purpose of catalogs is to give you an overall perspective of the prices.
You might ask yourself- ok, why do I need this much literature? You need the reference literature in order to get to know your antiques better, and you need catalogs to “protect” yourself from buying overpriced items.