Many years ago, I learned that in order to make information stick in the minds of my university students, you had to give them an easy way to remember that information. My catchphrases that I used in lecture halls on university campuses became my trademark.
I still employ these catchphrases when I appear on television and at my appraisal tour events. I come up with new ones on the spot during my live appraisal stage shows, too. If you have been to one of my events, you have heard my loyal crowds recount these catchphrases aloud.
Here are some of my greatest hits:
“ ‘Ugly’ is your first clue to value.” Sometimes the ugliest thing in Grandma’s house is worth the most money. Don’t overlook an antique just because it’s not your style or taste. Think of Picasso’s paintings; they aren’t particularly pretty but are very valuable.
“ Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s valuable.” I have old junk in my house. My Grandmother had old junk in her house. Sometimes it is just old junk.
“Antiques like to live where you like to live.” Display or store your antiques in the main areas of your home —living room, den, bedroom. You wouldn’t want to live in your musty basement or in your hot attic. Your antiques don’t want to live there either.
“Condition is to antiques what location is to real estate.” In the antiques game, objects have to be in good shape to be of high value.
“If your antiques expert isn’t wearing gloves to protect your antique, then they just aren’t an expert.” The gloves are mandatory if you have any respect for vintage or antique objects. If you are evaluating objects, condition is key and the gloves protect an antique from deterioration caused by the oils on human hands. In museums, gloves are standard issue when handling objects. The pros wear gloves.
“Ask that appraiser who offers to buy your antique from you to appraise the front door on the way out of your house.” Know the difference between a purchase offer like “I’ll give you $50 for that platter” and an appraisal like “A platter like that one recently sold for $500.” An appraisal is an expert opinion of value based on a recently completed sale. If someone is offering to buy an antique from you, that is not an appraisal. Typically, that statement is a low purchase offer or a cheap amount that the dealer acting as an appraiser is willing to pay.
“An asking price is not an appraisal. It is a wish, a hope, a dream.” It isn’t an appraised value until somebody buys that antique for a particular price. When you hear a picker or a dealer say, “I bought it for $20 and I am going to ask $200 for it,” that doesn’t mean it’s worth $200. It just means he has the audacity to ask $200 for it. It’s only worth what someone has paid for it — in this case, only $20.
There are more of these catchphrases that I have shared over the years. Join me at my antiques appraisal events hosted worldwide and I will highlight more of my easy-to-remember antiquing tips.