Research Before Buying any Antique Maps, Historical Documents, Coins, etc.
As a young child, I would get excited when I would visit a coin store or large coin show and see many coins on display for sale. My impulsive nature would encourage me to buy quickly and a lot of time, without thinking.
Once home, I would look at my new purchases with both excitement and angst. On one hand, my new purchases brought me joy of getting what I wanted. On the other hand, as often, I was concern I overpaid for some coins.
There was a popular saying in the coin collecting field. "Buy the book before the coin". So true and yet so often ignored.
Nothing has changed today except instead of books, people get their information from the internet. Or, do they?
Being in the antiquity industry for years, one of the things I stay on top of is the competition. To understand the market approach, it is important to be aware of sellers and dealers, what they are selling and at what price. Any business will tell you that you need to know your competitors to stay alive.
When the ecommerce market came into being, brick and mortar stores turned a blind eye. They believed people want a personal face-to-face way of buying goods. Today, these physical stores have been closing their doors or cutting back because people are buying online.
Going back to the competition of rare print and autograph galleries, one thing I have noticed are the prices that are marked on some of their items. Seriously! No matter what they are selling, they mark it up at least 5 to 10 times the value, if not more! Unbelievable!
Why do some people grossly overpay for these products?
Several reasons: 1) They get drawn in with the atmosphere and glamour of the gallery, 2) In their mind, the location is posh and therefore gives credibility to the gallery, (Really?), 3) They like the physical appearance of the framing, and 4) They really don't know what the item is worth.
Some years back, a client was pondering buying a James Madison partial signed document.. He was offered it at 5x its true worth.. When I explained recent sales prices, he backed off and later bought a better one (it was complete) for less than half the price.
As a true collector who has been burned in past years, it bothers me when people get taken advantage of when buying. No matter how wealthy one is, nobody likes to be overcharged. So, please research and ask questions before you pull the trigger.
If you are patient, inquire from real experts and do research, you can enjoy collecting for years.
If not, you will look like the tiger above!
(Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash)