Maureen Winer's commentary in this week's Antique Week made a good point. She describes a friend who developed a "habit" of paying for and filling up storage units, costing him both time and aggravation. This is often called hoarding (see previous post on the Collyer brothers (February 2009)) and it's sadly all-too familiar among antiques collectors.
Over the past six years in this biz, we have been in a lot of houses. Many have been pleasantly full of antiques, but we've also seen many that can only be described as "packed, with paths." Rarely do we find a house that we would describe as "sparsely decorated." And what's so sad is that, as a general rule, the folks with the most stuff are the least likely to actually want to sell it. We'd like to say we know someone who regularly complains about not having any money, but is paying for at least five storage units that are filled with antiques, but in reality, we know a lot of someones with this problem! And when some of them do finally send a few things to auction, they often insist on high reserves on everything, many times getting it all back, even when there wasn't enough room for it to begin with. And let's not go into all the fees and expenses related to storing and (attempts at) selling that only increase the amount of money tied up in the something that they still haven't actually gotten rid of! So many of these folks consider themselves dealers, but we have to wonder if they have ever really sold anything. In actuality, they seem like their own best customers!
Based on what we've seen, it's pretty clear that a fairly small number of "collectors" and "dealers" have, over the past 30-40 years, done an enormous amount of buying, perhaps supporting a not-insignificant segment of the middle and lower end of the market all by themselves. Seems like every auction has a guy who'll bid on anything if it gets cheap enough, and we always wonder what this guy's house looks like. We can only imagine....
You want to help move the antiques marketplace along, perhaps help it start its climb out of this slump? Look around your house or shop, pick out 5-10 things, and send them to auction or sell them to a dealer from whom you have purchased over the years. Don't think about what you paid for these things...just sell them. Put them back out there and let them find a new home. You'll be doing a couple of good things. Firstly, as mentioned, you'll be helping the antiques marketplace. Secondly, you'll be lightening your own load. You have enough stuff - honestly, we all do. It might be painful at first, but just let these 5-10 things go. Wish them luck and say goodbye. After a few weeks without them in your home, see if you *really* miss them. You just might find the process of "load lightening" liberating.