Secrets to Savvy Collecting: How to collect like a rock star on a garage band budget, page 3

1930s dining room suiteBefore I reveal whether you passed this quiz, I want to tell you the secret of my success. The secrets to assembling this terrific room at a really affordable price followed my guidelines explained in this book. No one would claim that this display is worthy of Architectural Digest or that it is museum quality, but that’s exactly what makes it so charming.

Everything here is all very affordable. In fact, it was even more affordable than I expected. The total cost of this room (before price negotiation and sales tax) is $152 less than the cost of a 52-inch, LCD, stereo color television recently advertised by a national appliance store. This vintage 1930s room can be yours for $3,147 (and maybe less, after you’ve mastered the principles of price negotiation to be featured soon).

An itemized list follows to help you fully grasp how affordable these and so many other antiques and semi-antiques/collectibles really are.

Retail Prices for the vintage 1930s dining room

Item Approximate age
(in years)
Dining suite
(table, two chairs,
buffet, china closet)
70 $1,150
Four dining chairs 50 $250
Knives and forks for six 70-80 $28
Noritake china
(Japan) for eight
70-80 $350
Six napkins 50-60 $6
Wedgwood china bowl 60 $125
Condiment/castor set 120 $75
Pair of candlesticks 70 $35
Tea service 100 $250
Bust of lady 80 $85
12 water goblets 50 $40
Glass dinner bell 50 $5
Clock 150 $185
Painting 80 $250
Six glass dessert plates 65 $48
Glass bowl 110 $25
Wine holder 50-60 $65
French tapestry 100 $175
Grand Total:   $3,147

Going The Extra Mile

Maybe I should rest my case about the affordability of antiques. However, I feel it is important enough a topic for me to try to totally convince you. While shopping for that 1930s dining room suite, I also stumbled on a delightful dinette set from the 1940s. This little beauty was a steal at $295.

Obviously, someone else agreed with me, because it had been sold just before I spotted it.

A Late 1940s Setting

1940s dining room suiteTake a close look at the photo of this charming, late 1940s dinette suite. Wouldn’t it look grand in the corner of any kitchen? It’s made of solid maple in the ever-popular “Early American” style based on furniture designs of the 1700s. It includes a dining table with a center leaf, two side drop-leaves, four chairs, and a hutch. The setting features two coffee mills, napkins, milk-glass candlesticks, martini glasses and Japanese china. This set, which delighted me as well as the lucky buyer, is a great example of a semi-antique/collectible. I’ll talk more about this category of antiques, so brimming with bargains. This set costs less than a washer and dryer.

If you thought the price of the 1930s room was surprising, then you’ll be astonished at this one. Just imagine that even in the 21st century, a room can be furnished with antiques and semi-antiques/collectibles for less than the cost of a washer and dryer. Isn’t it amazing that the dinette set plus furnishings cost $154 less than a Frigidaire Crown Series washing machine and dryer set advertised by a national appliance store?
As impossible as it seems, this room setting cost only $846.
The display with its incredible prices demonstrates that sometimes bargaining isn’t necessary. Following is the list of the items, with age and retail price, to show you how affordable these items really are.

Retail Prices for the Vintage 1940s Dining Area


Item Approximate age
(in years)
Dinette set
(hutch, table,
six chairs)
50-60 $295
Eight napkins 50 $15
Coffeepot 100 $55
Milk glass candlesticks 100 $35
Basket 40 $35
Candlesticks (pair) 60 $30
Glass sugar bowl, creamer 50 $15
Silver-plated knife, spoon 60 $6
Glass ashtray 30 $2
Four martini glasses 50 $8
China from Japan for 12 40-50 $185
Eight water goblets 40-50 $80
Coffee mill 30 $65
Second coffee mill 50 $20

 Grand Total:    $846

I hope you agree that the first model room, and especially this second beauty, proves my first Loomism: “Antiques are far less costly than you ever thought possible.” So understand right now that you no longer have to just dream about the antiques you’ve been craving, because they are about to be yours. And this is just the beginning! Later, you’ll master a great deal more — from buying antiques for less than a dollar (there are plenty) to getting that once-in-a-lifetime, oh-so-special antique.

2011 Loomism: The prices above were retail prices in 2004. Hold on to your hats! Unbelievable as it may seem, those prices generally have not gone up and currently may have even decreased by 20 percent to 30 percent. And you may be able to earn a stronger discounts after the reading the section on price negotiation, which will be printed in a future issue.

Bookmark this page for future updates in this series.


Special discount prices on great books, digital downloads, price guides & reference books for every hobby

Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2011 Price Guide

Antique Trader Facebook PageMeet and share with other antiques collectors, dealers and auctioneers on Antique Trader’s Facebook page

Antique Trader Twitter ProfileGet special discounts and breaking news alerts on Antique Trader’s Twitter feed!

Sign up for your FREE email newsletters

For more trade news, auction reports, research and expert columnists, get a year of Antique Trader magazine for the special online price of just $24.98!

Antiques Auction Houses