Lessons learned from Market Warriors

posted in: Art Collecting | 0

Lesson learned from watching MARKET WARRIORS on PBS.

Don’t overpay for your antiques, or The Antique Market sure is soft now.


Just watched MARKET WARRIORS on PBS. Each of the shows regulars was given an assignment to buy certain vintage or antique items to buy at a Brimfield flea market in Massachusetts to sell at auction. Anyways , in the segment I watched each of the four regulars, seasoned antiquers, and pickers, haggle on price for their buys. And then the items went to auction. None of the items they bought with cash made any money. Not even close. They each lost hundreds of dollars, by overpaying for the items in the first place. Couple of lesson learned, or reinforced. Don’t buy an item for resale if your heart is speaking louder than your head. Have the seller come to your price or walk away. …. And the other lesson.

Man ! The market for antiques is either really soft now, or was so, at least, at the time of the taping of that particular episode.

Now, that might be just my read, based on a really bad day for those professional antique pickers, but I see it too in other areas. Vintage first edition hardcover books, and some art genres from the 1980’s,  forward.

I’ve bought and sold first edition books for years. But I don’t think I’m the only one seeing a steep drop off in interest for actual hardcover books, since the proliferation of E-readers, like Kindle, etc… . If I want to read about something, I too, go directly to the computer , and read about it online.  On the other hand, I also love the feel of an actual bound book. While the market for hardbacks may currently be soft, I think it may also be the prime time to consolidate collections. Hold onto first editions of notable books and authors works, and cull the rest. Give the rest away to community libraries, or thrift stores. Use that gift as a deduction on your taxes.

The softness in the prices for some late 20th century artists is also perplexing. Having always bought and sold wholesale, my margin for profit has always been smaller than for a retail gallery selling the same artwork. So when I see artwork selling on the secondary market for wholesale prices , I wonder what’s going on? Where are the buyers? How are the dealers making any money ?

Pretty much the same questions that the four pros on MARKET WARRIORS were asking as they saw their items at auction sell for hundreds of dollars less than what they had paid for each piece. They thought they knew the market for the items that they had bought to sell at auction. And they clearly didn’t. They were all a bit dumbfounded at the softness in the market that they each thought that they knew so well.

Me too.


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