|A few months ago I wrote an article named “Signed vs. Unsigned - Buying Art, Pottery and Collectibles”. The basic premise of the article was my own opinion about “Should you pay the price for signed jewelry, art and collectibles, as opposed to buying what you love, whether signed or unsigned?”. Since writing that article, I have read in one of my many collectible newsletters and magazines that the “hot” new collectible trend is buying unsigned and unknown artist and artisan items. I personally think this is great! Not only does it help the collectibles market, in several different areas such as unsigned jewelry, studio art pottery and original artworks, who is to say what that “unknown artist” or unsigned item will someday be worth? Picasso received hardly any recognition while alive, but after his death, we all know where the prices went on his works, straight through the roof!|
If you are a collector, this is the perfect time to start turning your buying trends towards unsigned items, or as yet, unknown makers. The prices are much lower than the normal collectible names, as well as the fact that no matter what market you are buying in - BUY WHAT YOU LOVE! This way, you don’t end up spending a fortune on an item that in five years may not even be considered a good collectible investment. Remember the “Beanie Baby”© craze? Well, now there are tons of folks out there with mountains of “beanies” that they may have paid a small fortune for, and I sure hope they love them because that market is pretty much dead! The difference between paying $150.00 for a Beanie Baby© during the insanity of the craze feels much worse when the bottom drops out of the market, than spending $150.00 for a couple of beautiful art pottery bowls or vases, especially if you love the look of the items anyway. When you look at the items that you purchased, ones that could possibly become not only valuable collectibles based on the development of the artist during their creating lifetime or at the very least, loved heirlooms that are passed on in a family, this all begins to make a lot of sense. If you buy what appeals to you, you can never go wrong. It is my philosophy to by what is aesthetically and artistically appealing to me, is unique, and I could care less whether the artist or maker is “known and listed” or not! Five years from now, I will not be crying over my purchase and the money I spent, I will still be loving the item as much when I purchased it, if not more! If it goes up in value, so much the better. That is just a wonderful side fact that doesn’t even enter my mind at the time of purchase. I buy because I like what I see, hear, feel, etc.
Perhaps this is why so many are turning to the unsigned and unmarked items, without quite as much emphasis on the signatures or hallmarks. Sure it’s nice to own a full parure of Miriam Haskell jewelry. But, I am more content with an unsigned, unique sterling pin for a fraction of the price, that I can actually wear and show off for a fraction of the price I would have paid for the Haskell name.
Of course, Haskell jewelry is and always will be a hot collectible in the jewelry market, but consider this. The majority of people collect her items because of the artistic appeal, unique designs and quality of the piece. Shouldn’t we judge all items we consider purchasing by those same rules, no matter who made them? I think so. I also feel that in the long run, as time goes by, those purchases made with the heart and the eyes will be the ones that we grow to love the most. Sure, Haskell jewelry is a great collectible, sure to increase in value as time goes by. But who is to say that that little pottery vase made with great form and design by a student in an art pottery studio or class will not someday be worth a small fortune? Plus, as it increases in value, if it does, you will have not paid a small fortune for it, you have admired and loved it since you bought it, and your family may now already arguing over who gets it one of these days when you go to that great auction in the sky, regardless of the market value! Items we acquire through life, if well loved and worn or displayed with pride and love, develop a value all their own. How do you think the collectibles market began? For instance, we have in our family, a beautiful and very large ewer. For years and years, it has been passed down from my grandmother, to my mother, and now my sister and I are determined that this ewer will never leave our family, if we can help it. Turns out that this ewer is a Rookwood or Roseville, and most likely worth a small fortune! Do you think that my Grandmother purchased it because of the name? No, she bought it because it was pretty and she loved the way it looked. Names meant nothing to her, she just loved the look and feel of the pottery, and it has been on constant display in our family, in one home or the other, because of where it came from, not who made it! To us it is priceless, no amount of money could ever get it away from us. To the collector, it has a set price, although it may be a large price, but that is no matter to us. We will never sell it because of the memories it holds. I always get a little giggle (not to offend anyone, it’s just my strange sense of humor...) when a dealer lists something as “An important piece of “such and such””. Aren’t they all important in one way or another? They were important to the person that made them, or designed them, or cast them, or threw the clay, I don’t care if it was a 10 year old child in pottery class, or a ewer like the one in our family. I guess what I am trying to say is that all items have value, from one viewpoint or the other, and we shouldn’t be so caught up in the “name game”. Broaden your horizons on your next browsing trip and always remember that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”!
About the Author
Laura owns several online websites, along with her largest site, "Ice Originals II" where she sells a wide variety of vintage and collectible items. She is also a published poet, freelance writer and an artist. She invites you to visit her shop at http://www.tias.com/stores/iceorig/, as well as her new website highlighting special collectibles and jewelry pieces at http://www.iceoriginals.com/!