Wednesday, April 19, 2006
So often I hear customers complaining that antiques have become too expensive and they just can't afford to collect anymore. Pshaw! That's the furthest excuse from the truth. If you like old things, and want to collect, you definitely can find something old which gives you pleasure and is affordable, too.
Antique photography is an excellent example. I love old photos, probably because I was raised on photography as my father was a professional photographer for an international news organization for more than 30 years. I recall him teaching me how to shoot photos with his very expensive Nikon cameras when I was only six years old - he sure had a lot of faith in me!!
I especially love those earlier photos from the 1870s through the 1920s. Collectible American photography covers a vast range, from the very first ambrotypes and daguerreotypes during the mid-1800s through tintypes and paper photography during the later 1800s into the early 1900s. During this latter time period, some folks even had their favorite photos turned into postcards to send to their friends and family.
Early photographica shows America during simpler times, and often reflects lives of everyday people who worked hard to accomplish their goals and enjoy the life they earned. These pictorials of a century ago make a fabulous, unique and very personal collection, all based on a collector's subjective interests and tastes. You can amass a superb collection of early photos for a very reasonable and small amount of money.
Vintage photos aren't difficult to find. I find them at antiques shops and shows, flea markets, sometimes even estate and yard sales. Usually, the better ones come from dealers who understand photography and sell the best quality they can find. Working with a dealer can bring a collector some really fantastic photo finds, and it's worth the effort to befriend a dealer who understands and loves early photography.
Photos are usually inexpensive. I regularly sell really nice turn-of-the-century photos for $10 - 25 each, with many of them in frames and ready to display. I often tell my customers that this is for their "diet collection" - for every pizza they give up, they can instead buy one or two really cool old photos!
Subjects of these photos include children, animals, people in their occupations, early cars, instant ancestors and family groups, and a whole wide scope of topics that folks find interesting. Some of my customers only collect a certain theme, while others search for photos which accent their homes and add to an atmosphere of comfort and warmth.
One of my customers only searches for photos of young girls carrying dolls, as an accompaniment to her extensive doll collection. One man likes Civil War photography. Another customer buys early horse photos, and has a couple shelves of them - she groups all different horse photos in all different sizes and they decorate her family room built-in bookcase. They really add to the horsey atmosphere of her favorite room, and since her daughter is an accomplished horsewoman, they mix in perfectly with all the ribbons and awards the daughter has earned.
I've also sold early photos to artists, who use them for ideas in future projects, and to interior decorators who want a special one-of-a-kind early photo to enhance a client's home. Instant ancestor photos are popular - after all, who cares if that person in the photo is really your g-g-g-g-grandmother??? It's the photo itself that draws attention, and gives your home a toasty, home-spun, comfortable feeling.
I regularly sell vintage photos in my Red Moon Antiques webshop on Ruby Lane. While in Texas a couple weeks ago, I purchased a really nice group of quality photos, all originating from one Indiana family from around the 1890s -1930s who eventually moved to Texas. Many of these photos are professionally-shot cabinet cards showing studio scenes of various individuals, while some are home-shot photos of life in America. They are a wonderful documentation of the lives of several different family members, and I have had several very enjoyable hours sorting through and framing them.
Antique photos are marvelous! Why not try collecting in a whole new field?