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Investing In Antiques Fact Or Fancy
There is considerable argument in some circles as to whether an antique is an "investment." Before you decide for yourself, let us find out what is meant by the word investment.
Cost is not the same thing as value, and should not be confused with it. Poor quality is no bargain at any cost.
Is it valuable just because it is old? Well, sometimes. Fragments dug up at Pompeii were painstakingly pieced together, the repaired items being valuable in that they were able to tell us about the lives and times of that ancient civilization. The museum curators esteem such articles highly, although they would not dream of putting them to their original uses. This is where the antique collector differs upon the question of value. You already know how your forebears lived. What you want in an antique is a fine old item that you can proudly display in your home, but more important, one that you can use, daily if necessary.
Age alone is no criterion of value. Unless you are the buyer for an historical society, an awkward, ungraceful monstrosity of furniture is of no value (except maybe as a curiosity) whether it was made one hundred or three hundred years ago, or if you have a friend who can get it for you wholesale straight from the manufacturer in jamestown.
Don't buy something just because it is old! Age will not improve what was not good to start. Not all old wine is vintage champagne-sometimes it is just wine that has turned into vinegar. Antique furniture is no different.
Some antiques are more valuable than others of the same kind. Grace of design, fine workmanship, present condition, the amount of repair, if any-all these factors have an important bearing on the worth of any antique. Sturdiness is another important factor; a three-legged chair or a rickety table is hardly a wise buy. But besides this obvious example, there are numerous more subtle values to watch for. Two tables might be offered for the same price, and only close inspection will find small differences which would make one a better buy than the other. Therefore, the original cost of the antique must be in keeping with the value received.
If you have found a good, sturdy antique; one that is all original (meaning that it has had no repairs nor replacements) and is a good example of the style you want, is it a good investment?
The cost of this particular antique may be nearly the same, or slightly higher than (or in same cases, much higher than) that of a comparable piece bought new, all depending upon the individual antique and the part of the country in which you live.
However, with new furniture there will be a considerable loss when you sell it to buy another. With the antique, you are told, you will be able to profit by selling it in later years.
Economic conditions being as unstable as they are, this is not something upon which to count. Your antique may be of greater value in five years, or it may not. If you overpay now you will face a considerable loss in either event.
A good antique, though, is sure to bring you back a greater percentage of the original cost, even in bad times, than a similar item bought new.
The fact that antiques do not depreciate in value as does modern furniture means that your insurance on household goods will have to be kept up accordingly. Also in certain states, such as California, where the residents are taxed upon household goods, you will not have the benefit of the depreciation rate extended to you each year as with modern furniture.