Terms to help new collectors of pottery

When I started to buy and sell pottery, there were some terms that I picked up pretty fast that I use quite often.  These terms are pretty common and help describe the manufacturing process of the piece.  Here’s some of the terms:

Pinholes—these are faults in the surface of a ceramic body (or even the glaze) that resemble pin pricks.  These are not very big at all, and there is usually no other damage around them.  Air bubbles are the most common culprit that causes these.

Bloating—this is the permanent swelling of a ceramic piece during the firing in a kiln.  It’s caused by the expansion of gases like air not being able to escape out of the piece.

Iron oxide—this is a common oxide in glazes and some clays that generally gives the item a reddish color.

Biscuit pottery—this is also called Bisque pottery.  This is pottery that has been fired, but no glaze has been applied to the piece.

This is only a few of the terms out there.  What have you heard?

What do you do when you attend an auction?

So you have decided to go and see what goes on at an auction.  You scouted out the perfect one, and have even showed up about 30 minutes before it started.  Now what do you do?

The first thing that you need to do is to register to get a bidder’s number.  More often than not, the auction company will have a special area set up for just this purpose.  All that you need to do is to show the auction company a valid ID and supply a phone number, and you have a biding number.  What this is for is to let the auction company know who you are and even able to contact you if something arises (like if something that you bought gets left behind).

Whenever I have attended an auction, this will only take a few minutes at most, and it doesn’t cost me anything to do so.

The next thing that you will want to do is to look at the merchandise that’s in the sale.  Getting to the auction a few minutes before it starts will help you look over the items to see what’s there and to see what kind of condition that it’s in.

Make sure that you listen to what the auctioneers say at the very beginning of the auction when they make their announcements.  This will let you know what will happen during the course of the auction and what will be sold first.

So have some fun when you go to auctions and see what’s out there!

At what price do you walk away from a piece?

One of the first questions you ask yourself when you are out shopping for antiques is at what price do you walk away from a piece?  It’s a very simple question that every collector and dealer ask themselves, sometimes even on a daily basis.

It doesn’t matter if you are looking at a piece of pottery, a coin or even an advertising piece.  This question will be asked on pretty much everything that you look at.

A good rule of thumb that I use is I ask myself how much I can actually sell the item for.  I then try to pay half for the item (if I can sell it for $20, I try to buy it for $10).

The reason that I only pay half for the item is that this gives me a good cushion to cover any expenses that I happen to run across.

Some of these expenses that you also have to factor in is the cost of shipping materials like the box, packing peanuts bubble wrap and even tape.  Even the cost of the shipping label also must be considered.

There are also fees that you pay to the selling site whenever you sell an item (you usually will have to deal with these at the start of the month).

When I am looking at a piece, I also look to see if I need to make any repairs or even do something like rewire it or replace parts.  This will definitely drive up the price of the item and eat into (and potentially eat up) any profits that could be made.

What do you consider when you look at the price of an item?

There are many different types of tables to consider decorating with

Dinner tables, coffee tables and even side tables can be seen in pretty much every house nowadays.  Did you know there are many, many different types of tables that you can decorate your house or apartment with?  Here’s a few for you to consider:

Flip-top table—This is a table that has two leaves, and the leaves are one on top of the other.

Pie-crust table—This is a small, round table having a top with its edge carved or molded in scallops. This type of table is common in 18th-century English furniture.

Gate-leg table—A gate-leg table is a type of table that was first introduced in England in the 16th century. The table top has a fixed section and one or two hinged leaves on the sides.  This type of table also has two legs that swing out to hold the leaves up.  When the leaves are not in use, the legs fold in and the leaves fold down below the fixed section and hang vertically.

This is just a small sampling of what’s out there.  What kinds of tables have you run across or have used?

What style is that?

When I started to sell vintage and antique items, I immediately heard some names of the styles of design that have been used over the years.  The first area that I found out that this applies to is furniture.  Here’s a brief explanation of some of the styles:

Queen Anne—this is a period in English furniture design that dates from 1702 to 1714.  This style is characterized by the adaptation of the Baroque style and the extensive use of the cabriole leg.  Walnut was the dominant wood used by furniture makers.

Renaissance—this is a revival of interest in classical design.  This style had it’s beginning in Italy during the 14th century, and it continued to spread throughout Europe until the 17th century.  The design is simple in structure—it has a generous use of classical ornament (such as the acanthus leaf, animal forms, and pilasters).

Georgian—this is a period of design in English furniture that was used right after the Queen Anne style, and it ran from 1714 to 1795.  Some of the better-known designers were Hepplewhite, Sheraton, Chippendale, and even the Adams Brothers.  Mahogany and walnut were the chief woods used by furniture makers (but other woods have been known to be used).

This is only a small sample of the styles that are out there.  What types of styles have you heard about?

Storage ideas for your collection

Where and how do I store my collection?  This can be a tough question to answer, especially if you are new to the collecting world.  Here are some ideas for you to consider for storage.

The first one to consider is what type of collection that you have.  If you are trying to put a set of dishes together, you can get a china hutch or cabinet.  These are more than big enough to store a set of dishes, and the great thing is that you can show it off as well.

If you have an advertising collection, it all depends on how big the pieces are.  If it’s signs, you can display them either leaning against or on the wall itself.  If the pieces are smaller, you could have them on something like a book shelf.

If the collection is something like trading cards (like baseball or football), you can get some pages that hold them and store them in a three-ring binder.  If you had the cards graded and they are encapsulated, there are storage boxes that can hold them.  You could even get a vintage box that’s made of metal or wood to put them in as well.

There are many ways to store your collection.  How do you store yours?

Some things to consider when you start a collection

So you’ve decided to start collecting vintage items.  There are so many ways to go about it—you could restore the items you collect, or it even could be a collection of something like folk art or even pottery.  The real question is where do you start?

Whenever you start a collection, there are some things that you need to consider before you dive head first into it.  The first thing that I would do is to decide on an area that interests me and I would love to collect.  It could be McCoy pottery, depression glass, clocks, advertising items or even lunch boxes.

There is a phrase in coin collecting that goes “buy the book before you buy the coin.”  That applies to just about any area of collection, really.  More often than not, you can find a value guide at a book store or even an antique mall.  This gives you a good idea on what’s out in the market and even a price range on the items.

Once you have settled on an area to collect and have picked up a value guide, you need to figure out a budget on what you can spend on your collection.  What I do is I figure out what I can spend every month and I set aside some spending money for my collection.

After all of this, head on out and see what you can find.  You never know where you will find pieces—it could be at an antique mall, flea market, thrift store or even at a swap meet or a garage sale.  It’s fun for me to see where these items turn up.

Here’s a little piece of advice for you: I would create a checklist (either a physical one or one on something like your smartphone) and carry it around with you.  This way you know what you are looking for when you are out shopping.

Happy hunting and I hope that you find many treasures for your collection!