Good Life

Collector’s calendar will help in making wise sales, purchases

As an alumnus of the University of Michigan and Penn State, the annual New Year’s day football games mark both the end and the beginning.

January’s football mania ends the joy of college football season and begins a month of self-imposed organization and categorization. Using my art museum experience as a guide, the first month of every year is an ideal time to develop a collector’s calendar — the master plan for any collection.

Valuable stuff

Most of us don’t consider the objects that we have amassed over the years as formal collections. Yet, even common objects such as grandma’s crackle glass vases, vintage cookie jars and collectible figurines have value, even significant value. Collectors pay as much as $500 to $800 for choice 1940s Hull ceramic cookie jars, upward of $60 to $80 for a rare crackle glass vase, and some Royal Doulton porcelain figurines sell well into the thousands each. Preparing a collector’s calendar — to keep you on track throughout a year of collecting — can be useful for any collection, big or small.

Research your road map

At the start of every year, museum curators prepare a chronological road map for their collections. Typically, museum curators will assess objects and review a collection’s needs first. Decisions are made about works that require conservation, desired new acquisitions, and all-too-expendable pieces.

After critical needs are met, curators and seasoned collectors make a wish list. You should, too. Concentrate on pieces that fill a historical or period gap in your collection because this simple addition can increase the value of your entire collection. For instance, if you collect Victorian dining furniture, plan to acquire a set of coordinating Eastlake side chairs, coordinating silver service or antique table linens.

If you outline the desirable items at the beginning of each year, you will save time during the year as you shop to realize your goal.

Winter blues

Acquisitions are important, yet the calendar’s de-accession list (those things that may be sold, donated or otherwise moved out of your collection) outlines pieces outside of or beyond your collecting interests.

While many collectors don’t know the best time to buy or sell, it is based on market trends and common sense. For instance, paintings of snow scenes sell better at the winter holidays, and baseball memorabilia is priced higher in the summertime. For your private collection of anything including fine art and Fisher Price Toys, plan ahead so you can buy and sell at the best time for the best return.

Before you donate or sell an object, make sure you know the current market value. Do your homework. Get an unbiased appraisal from an expert who is not interested in buying the object.

According to the American Society of Appraisers, an appraiser should not have a purchasing interest in the object that he or she has appraised.

Most importantly, in my opinion, make sure your appraiser has extensive educational background and has no financial interest in your object — doesn’t want to buy it and doesn’t want to help you sell it. He or she is only there to provide an honest and accurate appraisal.

Timing is everything

Scholarship drives the art and antiques markets, but timing is key.

Take inventory and then use your collector’s calendar to pinpoint the best time to act.

A collector’s calendar plans the future of a collection by learning from the past.

As seen on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Retirement Living TV, and the Fine Living Network, Dr. Lori is a certified art and antiques appraiser and museum curator with a doctorate in art history. Watch Dr. Lori on Comcast CN8 TV’s “Money Matters Today” at 6 p.m. Jan. 17 and 31. Visit or call 888-431-1010.