When asked, “What antiques do you collect?” I usually reply, “I am an eclectic collector.” Instead of limiting myself to one area, I study multiple but distinct categories of art and antiques. I’ve always thought that limiting your scope, as a collector, is depriving yourself of the beauty and histories of the hundreds of primitive, medieval and even modern cultures of our civilization.
I find that frequent attendance at art and antique shows, auctions, and shops is vital, as that is where I find the grand displays of the hundreds of categories that comprise the antique and art worlds. And that’s where I find the very special and often fascinating people who spend their lives immersed in the world of arts and antiques, only too anxious to share their specialized knowledge with the rest of us. Even thrift shops and Salvation Army stores can be excellent sources for the eclectic collector.
Much of the pleasure of collecting art and antiques comes from the consistent study and fascination with a wide variety of art and antiques. Comparing, viewing touching, feeling objects, noting their forms, the compositions, materials, and styles, both visual and sensual is immensely rewarding.
When I acquire an exciting item, I research its history: its makers and their methods, its material, style, usage, and age. Thus, when finding similar objects, I have acquired some ability to determine whether they are “right” or not.
My photography plays a vital part in collecting. I am referring to studying a piece from different angles, lighting to achieve the best details. This is the way to truly see and understand the object. And, even if you should sell it one day, you will always have it with you.
Reference materials are an indispensable source of information. In my library you will find books on Japanese, pre-Colombian, Chinese, Persian and African art. And you’ll find books on Hindu miniatures, American and European furniture, weathervanes, western memorabilia, antique bottles, western Java puppets, antique advertising, Art Nouveau, old glass, old china, old silver, as well as copies of Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction catalogues and magazines.
I have attached four photographs of the most recent items that I have acquired: a wonderful painting of southwestern Acoma Indian pottery; a 100-year-old, Javanese Wayang Golek puppet; (A similar puppet is shown in Mimi Herbert’s book: “Voices of the Puppet Masters.”) a very old, brown clay, two handled pot, with unique hand decorations, whose origin I am in the process of investigating; and an interesting primitive painting that I believe may be from the Middle East or perhaps India.
The extent and variety of eclectic art and antique collecting is virtually limitless and brings with it over the years, a panoramic blend of education and experience that has no price.