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I also write as an antiques and auction expert for a National Online Newspaper at: www.examiner.com/x-312-Auctions-and-Antiques-Examiner
I like to think of myself as a hip guy at least for my age. Sure the music I listen to consists of a mix of classic rock, old school punk, and anything by Johnny Cash, but that alone doesn’t make me an old Geezer. My kids and family think that I’m automatically in that category just by my association and my love for antiques but let me rebut that by professing that my passion for old things is actually cool from an environmental standpoint.
Today the focus of this post which is that antiques are Green, very Green, and right now being Green is “in”, and arguably the most important thing to be as a consumer. Now maybe it’s just that as I’m getting older I’m finding my need to have my field of work accepted by the tragically hip, as well as those who need hip replacements, but I really see a huge benefits younger generations in antiques & collectibles.
Probably the best way to win you over and convince you that antiques are the ultimate Green products, would be to jump right in prove my case, but do I do that?
Naw, not me, the big mouthed auctioneer, I gotta pick a fight with my audience first! Here are my fighting words. You guys gotta get shed your addiction to disposable material luxury, especially with the extra obnoxious items. Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with a little flash, but c’mon, a Hummer?! Face Grills?!
Do you need to display the fact that you have money so bad that you have to wear it on your face? nuff said.
If your financially fortunate enough to be able to afford those things I’ve just mentioned let me make a couple of suggestions. First, instead of a Hummer, how about a nice vintage Rolls Royce? Something in a Phantom, or the Silver Ghost would be much more stylish, get you more attention, about the same gas mileage and which do you you think will be worth more money in 10 years? Right. Here’s where the Green part comes in, “the Rolls Royce is already made”. No extra production strain is put on the planet for raw materials, the same of course applies to any collectible or used item you purchase rather than a newly produced item.
Think for a minute how hard teams of scientists work to invent ways to cheapen productivity cost and lessen environmental impact of new products. Something that’s already made has cuts both of those factors to 0, with no effort. The Green benefit becomes even larger when you consider the potential disposal fee of the antique, collectible or used item that’s saved. What about the landfill room saved?
But what about the average person?
So, let’s say you’re not, and will never be in the market for a Hummer or a Rolls Royce. How can you save a bunch of cash with antiques? Aren’t antiques expensive? No, this is the biggest mis-perception that haunts the antiques world. Generally speaking, good quality antiques, used furniture and collectibles are much cheaper than new items of similar quality. The key part of that sentence being of similar quality.
Let’s take for example a nice Victorian solid Oak chest of drawers with a matching attached mirror. The average price range for such an item at auction is $150-$300 right now. You can go to Walmart and find something just as pretty for about $150 so were even so far. I’m sure most of you know that the pretty item at Walmart will be fake wood, what is commonly referred to as particle board or presswood. Don’t put a drink on it, and DO NOT attempt to move it once you’ve assembled it. Spilled drinks will dissolve the finish and moving it, even once, will loosen joints and make drawers unworkable. Junk. Now you CAN go to a good quality furniture store and buy a new dresser of solid Oak, somewhat close to the quality of the antique Victorian Chest I mentioned above, but it will cost you about $1,500 to $2000 dollars. Again, which do you think will be worth more money in 10 years? Right.
The same principles apply to virtually all quality antique items. You can get knock off new junk in stores for about the same money or you can get a comparable quality new item for about 10X the price or you can just get the antique item at an affordable price and if you take care of it, it will likely appreciate in value.
For those just starting out
If you’re just starting out and have little money, don’t go slapping your future down on a credit card to furnish your home. Every week throughout the country there are tons of small auction houses that would love your business, and in most cases you can fill up a truck and furnish a small apartment for under $500.00, lamps and accessories included!
With the foreclosure market the way it is, many people are downsizing, as a result there is a glut of used furniture on the market at local auction houses and second hand shops. I’m watching pieces that used to auction for $150-$200 each, sell for $25 and $50! That’s if the auctioneer can even get a bid on them. It seems that the dealers in the audience are all looking for small items to sell on eBay or only want the 1 or 2 outstanding pieces of furniture in the sale.
If you’re handy and are willing to do a little work, you can have something truly unique that will cost you nothing or very little. If you have the skill and inclination, I beg of you to go rescue one of those awesome vintage Stereo or “Hi-Fi” cabinets from the 1950s-60s.
Most people getting rid of them are willing to give them away. These can be converted into great liquor bars or buffet type pieces. Take out the record player and pop in a dry sink, take out the speakers and you have space to store things you wish to keep hidden. Keep the top down and it makes a great stand for a large fish or Iguana tank. Have you seen how neat some of those old retro Hi-Fi cabinets are? If you’re a musician, they can be shelled to drop in new gear. If I was held at gunpoint, (no volunteers please) I could come up with at least a dozen other uses for this piece of furniture alone, and think of what else is out there that should be saved.
If you go to an art store for mosaic type material, expect to pay big bucks, but you can find better, more beautiful and truly unique material for next to nothing. Just go to antique shops or auctions to purchase damaged porcelain and pottery. Etsians (those who sell on Etsy.com) are onto this and have started fashioning custom jewelry and other arts & crafts, which sell for good money.
Badly torn posters and antique books are almost worthless to antique ephemera dealers, but every day people get good money for them once they’re transformed into collages, altered books and other unusual items.
Jewelry making was just mentioned above and lots of people have found a niche in the market place making custom jewelry. You can go to supply centers and buy new, or you can hunt second hand stores for boxes of old findings or jewelry parts, which again will likely be very cheap when you do find them.
There are millions of antique and used items out there waiting to be rescued from the back rooms of auction houses, antique shops and second hand stores, many of them are cheap or in some cases free.
Make a statement, be unique, go Green, buy an antique.