Is quantity out in favor of quality?

The question occurs to all of us at one point or another. We take a step back to enjoy the collections amassed over the years. We remember the trips, the shops, the shows or the dollars invested in every piece.

Then the question pops into mind: “What am I going to do with all this stuff?”
It’s a problem every collector must face. Whether they are thinking about the best way to display their collection or how to include it in an inheritance, deciding what to do with a collection can be a difficult problem to solve.

Some collectors are generalists and purchase anything that strikes their fancy within a particular field. Others are more focused in their interests and collect items that meet a specific theme. No matter the approach, a collector can quickly find themselves awash in antiques.

The question on how to focus a collection came up recently during an interview with Stuart Holbrook, president of Theriault’s. He was discussing the record-setting Albert Marque doll as shown on the cover and on page 21 (CLICK HERE to read the story).

Holbrook and other auction house principals are watching a trend quickly unfold in nearly every realm of collecting: Quantity is out; quality is in.

“There is a certain point in every great collection that one needs to reign in the necessity to accumulate and exchange that with the necessity for quality,” Holbrook told me. “If they do find that quality, they should pay what it takes to get it. Once they reign in that need, they will have more money to pursue the things that are really going to matter to them.”

Holbrook’s observation will not come as a surprise to experienced collectors. These collectors have long disposed of the flotsam and jetsam often accumulated when starting out.

However, perhaps it is that new collectors are bypassing this stage altogether.

 Is that why dealers are reporting only the best-of-the-best is selling? Despite a harsh recession, the sky’s the limit on quality items. I’m sure that’s what David Luebke is hoping as his copy of Archie Comics #1 reaches auction Aug. 14 as explained on the cover.

Perhaps only experienced collectors are the ones who are finding ways to work more purchases into their budgets?

Whatever the reason, the way collectors are collecting is changing. In this week’s regional section (read the Regional Roundup HERE), you’ll see dealers are addressing the changing tastes of collectors with innovation and elbow grease.

Collectors and dealers have some tough decisions to make in the coming years. The collecting bug isn’t going away but I think it will permanently change the course of hobby.

Eric Bradley

P.S. Don’t forget to send us the story of your favorite rummage sale or yard sale discovery. You may just win a copy of the 2010 Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide.

Send your stories to or to Found Treasure, c/o Antique Trader, 700 E State St, Iola, WI 54945.

CLICK HERE for full contest rules.

— posted by Eric Bradley


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Antiques News, Blog
Karen Knapstein

About Karen Knapstein

Karen Knapstein is the editor of Antique Trader magazine. A lifelong collector and student of antiques, she has written dozens of articles on vintage collectibles and their historical context. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Joseph, and daughter, Faye. She can be reached at