If you are a flea market scavenger who would like to learn more about the art of collecting, Antiques Roadshow 20th Century Collectibles helps you distinguish a treasure when you see one.
The book focuses on 12 major areas: furniture, photographs, posters and illustration art, costume jewelry and wristwatches, dolls, toys, advertising memorabilia, sports, glass and pottery.
Here is an excerpt:
Steinbeck was either prescient or had a true collector's soul, for he was absolutely right about that car and that toaster. Today collectors are snapping up Danish modern furniture, Venini glass, Roseville pottery, Norman Norell dresses, Hamilton wristwatches, and toasters from the 1940s. Collectors come in all shapes and sizes, from all socioeconomic brackets, and from all parts of the country. They track down this potpourri of objects at yard sales, on the Internet, at auctions, and in shops.
But how did "they" become "us" — a nation of collectors, in the midst of a collecting epidemic, evidence of which is the devoted weekly following Antique Roadshow has enjoyed since 1997?
The Collecting Bug
If you've got the collecting bug, it's more than likely that you know it. The bug insinuates itself into many aspects of your everyday existence. It makes its home in your heart and feeds on your yearnings, memories, and emotions. Once it has insinuated itself into your life, it seems to be a bug that's virtually unkillable. The usual pesticides — guilt, being the butt of long-running family jokes, insufficient funds — are ineffective. It's impervious to snow, rain, and dark of night (think of those 5 a.m. flea marketers with flashlights). Overflowing shelves and lengthy rationalizations barely slow it down. It has adapted to its difficult environment and is wholly at home in your home. Nobody is immune. Says Peter Cook, the producer of Antique Roadshow, "Every so often somebody walks into a Roadshow event with a collection that's been lovingly pulled together over the years. Baseball cards, vintage eyeglasses, fountain pens, snuff bottles, silver hairbrushes, fire-fighting memorabilia. It's always a great moment for our appraisers. Their excitement reveals that they aren't simply experts, they are collectors, too."
So, if all this seems to tell — more or less — the story of your life, you, too, have been fatally bit. You're a collector. You may even be a "born collector."
The Born Collector
A "born collector" is many things, most of them deeply passionate. He or she is utterly addicted to that heady blend of thrill-of-the-chase and thrill-of-discovery. He or she is someone who generally prefers that the desired object be a trifle difficult to obtain — because (and, surprisingly, studies confirm this), if it's too easy to get, it's a whole lot less interesting. A born collector's usual MO is to collect either in quantity — acquiring, for instance, every single Madame Alexander doll that's ever been manufactured — or to collect for rarity-acquiring just the rarest Madame Alexander dolls in existence. A born collector is knowledgeable about his or her subject, fiercely competitive, and willing to stand for hours in the rain waiting for tag sales to open. For all born collectors, there is never too much. The hunt is all.
The Latent Collector