On Saturday I’m trekking off to a taping of PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, one of the “to do’s” on my bucket list. The episode is being filmed in Richmond, Virginia. Tickets are always in demand, and I have tried to get tickets several times through the Roadshow’s lottery system. I don’t have any hidden treasures that will set me up for retirement, but I am still looking forward to the experience.
Do you think you have a hidden treasure or a collection of something that will help fund your retirement? Do you plan to sell your grandmother’s beautiful china to fund a trip around the world? Or did you buy a series of limited edition figurines (no more made after a certain date) as a hedge against inflation. Well, you might want to reconsider your travel plans, unless you have had the foresight and capital to invest in art or decorative arts that traditionally retain or appreciate in value. Most of us don’t. That collection of cute little stuffed animals or Christmas collector’s plates won’t do it.
The arts and decorative arts markets are cyclic. Values go up and down depending on taste and trends. Art Deco was hot for a long time. Now Mid-century Modern is on fire. Sell your atomic design glassware while you can. Frenzy collecting of fad items, like those little stuffed animals, turns into a pyramid scheme. Only the people who sell at the height of the frenzy make any money. The rest are left holding the bag, or bags full perhaps.
The hardest realization for many people who own treasured family heirlooms is that the value is more sentimental than monetary. One of my sisters owns an antique store. People often bring in items to sell that “belonged to my grandmother and I know it is worth a lot.” The seller is then insulted by my sister’s minimal offer or by her lack of interest in buying the goods. The seller assumes she must be trying to cheat them or she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. But to succeed, a business must make money. She won’t even look at a set of china, unless it is something very special, because she knows she can’t sell it.
Each ticket holder at the Roadshow can bring two items for appraisal. I’m taking an oil painting I purchased 35 years ago at an estate sale in Minneapolis. The painting, dated 1886, shows a scene of a late-18th-century courting couple. Yes, I admit I harbor a fantasy the painting is an early (shall we say student) work of a now famous artist, (I can’t read the signature) and it would sell for a fortune at auction. I had my hair colored for my potential fifteen minutes of fame. I’ll be sure to post if dreams do indeed come true. Most likely, the painting be returned to my living room wall and continue to give me pleasure for many years to come. 🙂