Antique Trader Inbox: Should the antiques business be federally regulated?

It seemed an innocuous little question to ask of Antique Trader readers, you know, like conversation over coffee and danish – cheese for me.
Should the antiques business be federally regulated? I asked.

In the ensuing three days after the question hit our Web subscribers – I expect more now as the print version gets into the hands of folks – I have been told, all in good humor, of course – that I must be losing my mind for even suggesting such a thing. In fact, I think there were maybe two people out of 50 or 60 letters that said it might – might – be a good idea.

Obviously, antique people are an independent breed. It is a good, passionate, discussion, and no, I do not believe I am losing my mind. Who trusts a crazy man to comment on his own condition, however?
Enjoy a sampling of the numerous responses Trader got.

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Noah:

Absolutely no government involvement in the antique or collectible trades. The government has its nose in too much of the public business as it is right now.

Thank you,
R. Bloom


Noah:

No. The industry should set up its own system to weed out fraud and other dishonesty. There are laws in place to prosecute those who commit fraud, steal and commit crimes. We need to be more vigilant and honest and report those who are not honest.

Individual greed prevents people from reporting others and therefore perpetuates a bad system. Just look at physicians – they are reluctant to get rid of those who are not equipped to care for the ill appropriately. There are many regulations to stop bad doctors, but the wagons start circling when they are exposed. Something has to be done to stop bad people. Regulations that are not enforced are useless and the commissioners waste money by getting salaries when they are ineffective.

Annie Sprowls


Hi Noah:

I think that the government should make antique shops have to be certified as appraisers if they are selling. If they take a course online or through an association, (the association) should be knowable.

When the government steps in to regulate it should be when it comes to a certain amount of money. If a business is raking in $100,000 or more, then I can see how the government could get involved. Sometimes people will appraise or sell items fraudulently. So I think that, maybe, there should be some regulation. State-wise, a license should be in place. Where I live there is no licensing for appraisers, so how do they regulate anything? That is how trouble starts. If they made a license this would solve it. So the government should leave the Mom and Pop store that makes under $50,000 a year alone. Anything over is questionable.

Patricia Deleon


Noah:

We do not need the federal government regulating anything else.

Carolyn Brown


Noah:

I think there are enough laws, both federal and State, to cover almost all problems that are encountered in the antiques business today. 

I can’t even imagine what federal regulations would cover that is not now being covered somewhere by some law. Just say “no” to more federal regulation of anything! Unless, that is, you really want the industry to get screwed up.

Murray Weisberg


Noah:

No.

I cannot see a federal agent – with no idea of what makes an antique, how it is obtained, evaluated, recognized for what it is, placed in the market, and the wait a dealer in antiques has to endure (at times) for the buyer to come along – making a decision. It is a business of trust between buyer and seller.
I have a policy of accepting any return from customers for any reason. I have had two requests to return items in 30 years of business and they were honored without question.

That is the way any business should operate.

The buyer should do some homework, too… and remember caveat emptor.

Dolores R. Murphy


Noah:

I think the idea of government regulation of our business is insane. Exactly what problem would regulation solve, that could not be handled better by knowledge and personal responsibility?

It is my job to see that I do not buy or sell fakes, and not the job of the government. I have not lost much money due to being cheated, but I am certain the government would charge me a great deal of money to “take care of me.”

The concept that the government can do it better, or that should take care of us is incorrect. Learn as much as you can, and do not expect others to take care of you.

Today, many cheats are caught and punished. Under regulation, there would be no reason that the percentage caught would rise.

On the other hand, our paperwork could become monumental and drive many small dealers out of business. Regulation would not solve any problems!

Ollie Crinkelmeyer


Noah:

Heavens No!

Most antiques dealers would prefer the government to stay out of our business.

Jody Kerr
Oklahoma City


Hi Noah:

Just what any business needs… A bureau of meddling morons to make it harder for most enterprisers to do business, while not at all affecting the thieves, forgers and con artists, who are never deterred.

Bob Lentz
Westminster, N.J.


Noah:
I am reluctant to have the feds involved in anything.

It always ends up costing everyone. If you are a sincere collector/buyer/seller of antiques it is your responsibility to know your stuff, be informed and alert to the people you deal with and take responsibility for your own interactions. Finally, always remember, if it’s a “steal,” then it’s probably fake or stolen.

Ethel Geary


Noah:

That is exactly what we need: more government intervention and oversight.

You must be losing your mind. Did you ever hear of “caveat emptor?” Learn your business and, if you are a collector, get informed about all the good and bad in that field.

What is that old Russian saying? “Keep the government well and far away.”

E. Christian Mattson
Baltimore, Md.


Noah:

There is too much regulation in all fields already. We should be able to police ourselves.

If you are not sure of a piece, do not buy it. Study your collecting area and become the expert. Don’t rely on someone else to “protect” you. That has always been the last cry before your freedoms are taken away.

Chuck Lewis
Nacogdoches, Texas

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