During the last three months, there has been a resurgence of discussion surrounding the creation of an antiques trade association. Although this is not a new idea to our hobby, it appears this time the talk is more earnest. Groups such as Antiques & Collectibles National Association have already found success in offering a business function through reduced insurance rates and special offers for members. But lately, the conversations have turned toward promoting antiques to a new generation.
Unlike some, I do not subscribe to the gloom- and-doom prediction that our legacy of antiques and collectibles will be ignored by the next generation. Young people are finding appreciation in antiques and vintage collectibles every day, and I strongly believe that online sites such as eBay did more to create an army of sellers of antiques and vintage items than had ever existed before 1994.
However, there’s no doubt our hobby is in trouble. Attendance at shows is hitting new lows, and many American auction houses are facing the fights of their lives just to keep staff and stay in business. Lifelong collectors are ready to sell, and there is a smaller population of affluent buyers in the market.
Solutions are tough to come by, and a group of dealers, show managers, auctioneers and a collector have come together to develop some plan to promote the collecting of antiques, rather than promote a single business segment of the trade (dealers vs. auctioneers vs. museums vs. shows). This is an excellent idea. To break through to the iPod generation, the idea may gain more traction if it focused on the inherent value one gets when buying an antique or fine collectible: an object with high design, a resale value and one that is green (reused and recycled).
Missing from the conversation is a look at what got us to this point in the first place. After all, how can we build a better future if we don’t understand the past?
I think we need to hear your stories on how you got your start in collecting. Our readers would love to hear what inspired your interest in antiques. Was it a relative? A love of history? A windfall inheritance? A trip to the town dump?
In exchange for your stories and reminiscences, I have a special opportunity for subscribers. Starting in our February cover-dated issues, we will be reprinting an entire book in the pages of Antique Trader: “Secrets to Affordable Antiques” by author, radio personality and columnist Frank Farmer Loomis IV. Frank’s book has been out of print for some time, but it remains an excellent tool to help you spread the love of antiques to a new generation. Those of you who share your stories on how you first got interested in antiques and collectibles will be eligible to win a bound copy from our archives.
Your stories will be published. Please send them to Antique Trader, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990 or you can send them via email. Entry deadline is April 1.
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