Florida - Whether you're a collector, a dealer, or just a buyer of decorative arts for your home or condo, scoring that perfect find while hunting through the backwoods and nether-regions of antique and vintage shops can often be a frustrating task. Especially when it comes to discerning the true from the fake, and the great from the pretenders.
However, with a little help from some of the school's top appraisers and experts, we've managed to compile a list of items you'll definitely want to be on the lookout for this spring as you're out treasure hunting for those hot finds of the season.
Like the school's annual survey pointed out in December of last year, there seems to be no end in sight for this popular collectible. Great deals can still be found and jewels don't have to be real. Look for known makers like Eisenberg, Trifari, Weiss, Sarah Coventry and Hobe - all can command top dollar. A boxlot investment of $20 at an estate sale can easily return $400 to $600 online.
This is something in the textile zone that you might really want to pay close attention to - it's already gotten hot, but we think it's probably going to sizzzle this upcoming year. Look for vintage beaded bags, MCM lucite purses, chainmail style clutches from the twenties and thirties, and anything that comes with bangles. As always, condition is paramount. Buy at $20, sell online for $350.
MCM Dishes & Chinaware
While everyone is obviously aware of the incredible explosion of Mid-century modern into furniture design and tastes of the 21st century, it doesn't end there. Small little condiment dishes and place settings have also rocketed off the charts recently. Experts at the school say these can be a particularly good find since little dishes like these are often overlooked during an estate sale/garage cleanout.
While toys remain popular across the spectrum, most of the school's experts feel that tin toys are particularly well positioned to move up this year in price and popularity. Especially lithographed makes, and those related to robots and the space age. Dealers are scooping up $10 garage sale and estate sale boxlots and flipping for twenty times that online. Original box and packaging add value.
For many, McCoy was the name, but recently others have begun to shine, and Maria Martinez may be at the vanguard of this movement. The Pueblo artist was a prolific creator, and her blackware pottery is plentiful and beginning to command sizable prices at auctions across the country. Again, look for unchipped and pristine examples in order to see the best realized price.
This is a rapidly rising area of interest for collector's and dealers alike. Old Pullman cases and mid-century modern themed pieces are flying out the door. As with all practical items, condition is king. Look for original leather straps, perfect linings on the inside, and if it comes with authentic travel stickers, so much the better. Vintage Vuitton and American Oshkosh pieces can bring very, very high prices. Look for accessories too, such as hat boxes.
Native American Handicrafts
It goes without saying that native American items of any kind are still very popular today, and will command top dollar prices at galleries and auctions. However, there are still a number of bargains to be had for those with a keen eye. Woven baskets are often missed at garage and estate sales, and at $2,000 to $40,000 a pop, they could be more like a lottery win for some. Look at the design and shape to help determine authenticity.
Christmas Memorabilia & Decorations
While Christmas might not be on the mind of anyone at the moment, this is certainly one of the best times of the year for scooping up all those old unused vintage cards and ornaments, for resale in December. Tony Harper, one of the appraisers at the Institute, says he's noticed that Christmas cards with an MCM theme can sell in the $30 to $50 range for a pack of five. Classic tree ornaments with motifs that date the item can also prove highly desirable just before Christmas.
Flatware and Cutlery Sets
Finally, to round out our top eight picks (plus 1), for antiques not to be missed, are flatware and cutlery sets. For a while, these items seemed destined to join the moniker of Victorian passé, but they've recently made a turnaround, and box-sets that could be previously be bought for $20 to $40 are now back in the triple digit range. Again, estate sales with downsizing as the main theme are likely going to be your best bet for good quality finds at decent prices.
D. Harman (AIA), is a former Asheford Institute honors graduate and a freelance writer who has a knack for picking trends when it comes to the decorative arts world. When away from his keyboard, Mr. Harman is also a top "picker" for some of New York's finest antique & art establishments.
NOTE: For readers seeking more information about the Asheford Institute Of Antiques distance-learning program on professional-level appraising, the study of antiques, collectibles, vintage and mid-century modern items, please click here to visit the school's Home Page.
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