Starting A New Collection

November 10, 2017

Some years ago, my friend Dave Cordier, whose auction house is a great place to look for treasures, told me that he never met someone who had such eclectic tastes in antiques as I did. He was, and still is, right about that.
This summer, I was going back through some boxes that I had packed when we left New Mexico. Inside one of them was a collection of beautifully illustrated children’s books written from 1930 to ’50 for Navajo children. The books were written by Anglos but usually illustrated by Native Americans. As such, they capture my heart and my head. To say they are very cool is an understatement. The collection started when I bought a small collection of them at a used bookstore in Phoenix, Ariz. Well, the more I looked at them, the more I wanted to start a new collection. So now, after a couple of weeks of hard buying, I have a burgeoning collection of Navajo children’s books. I think they are cool, and it was an easy and inexpensive collection to build. My youngest daughter loves the Southwest, so I suspect that when I am done with this collection that it will be set aside for Mary when she comes of age.
I have started and stopped so many collections. Why? Because I am fascinated by history, and once I study a subject, I really want to possess some artifact that relates. Having lived in New Mexico, these Navajo children’s books are a wonderful collectible.
I also enjoy collecting items about groups that I belong to. Whether the Sons of the Revolution or the Sons of Union Veterans or the Presbyterian Church, I am always looking for items from these groups. I may go months and never see anything, and then all of a sudden things pop up. It is an infrequent collection but a fun one to look for.
The last area that I collect is household furnishings. All of us collect various items, but I also think that most of us buy antique furniture to decorate our homes. Whether it is a Dutch cupboard to showcase your primitives or a footlocker as a coffee table, I acquire furniture to showcase my collection and to continue a connection with the past.
I will say that those collectors who become obsessive about a particular topic have always fascinated me. They collect something to the exclusion of everything else and are true experts. That being said, there is a fine line between passion and obsession.
So, if you have not started a new collection in a while, I would encourage you to do so now. Prices in some areas of the market are very soft, and so one can acquire great treasures still at a very reasonable price tag.

Peter Seibert, a native Pennsylvanian, grew up in the antiques business and remains closely tied to auction houses, collectors, and dealers. Professionally, he has served as a museum director and public historian in Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Virginia. He holds an Master of Art in American studies from Penn State and has authored two books and numerous articles on decorative arts, interior design, and history. 
Peter Seibert

Peter Seibert

Peter Seibert, a native Pennsylvanian, grew up in the antiques business and remains closely tied to auction houses, collectors, and dealers. Professionally, he has served as museum director and public historian in Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Virginia. He holds an M.A. in American Studies from Penn State and has authored two books and numerous articles on decorative arts, interior design, and history.

 

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