Part V of our series on “Killer Stuff and Tons of Money” – Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America
The fifth part of our interview series with Maureen Stanton:
“After your experiences and “inside information” education you received while working with Curt at Brimfield, traveling to antique shows and shopping at flea markets, what tips would you have for folks who have an interest in antiques but don’t know where or how to start?”
First you have to follow your heart and buy what you love and want to have in your home. Sometimes this attraction is inexplicable—like my penchant for buying tiny ceramic 19th century and earlier dolls. I never really played with dolls as a girl, but I just love these early primitive sculptural toys, and they are cool to display. I collect vintage jewelry because I wear it, and old books because I love books and reading. I started collecting other objects after I learned about them and developed an appreciation for the history, craftsmanship, and beauty—liked hooked rugs.
But whatever category of objects you are attracted to, the first step is simply to spend time looking – call it field research– in shops, shows, and antiques fairs. You first have to train your eye for what is rare and more prized within that category you love. I see a lot of hooked rugs, but I know how to spot the better ones, which finer stitches, original designs, older, and in better condition.
When I first began tagging along with Curt Avery for Killer Stuff, I was neophyte. I thought any “antique” was valuable since it was old, but some antiques are more common than others. The more I looked, the more I was able to sort the common objects that you see in many booths and shops from the more unusual ones.
After that, you can begin to educate yourself further. Take advantage of the knowledge of dealers. Most dealers understand that taking the time to educate a buyer means a potential customer down the line. I often saw Curt Avery often spending time at shows teaching someone about old coffee grinders, or valuable marbles. Even though they didn’t purchase something then, he was helping to cultivate a future customer. During the slower times at shows, ask a dealer about an object that interests you. Also, read some antiques trade publications. Many are distributed free at antiques shows and flea markets like Brimfield, and there are several good ones online for free.
To learn more about Maureen’s book, check it out here:
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