Past, Present, & Future Collectibles
by Maxine Carter-Lome
Hard to believe we are at the end of yet another year! December issues give us an opportunity to reflect on a year gone by, take stock of where we are at, and look optimistically toward the future.
For us in the antiques trade this past year saw the cancellation of a number of long-running antique and collectibles shows, consolidation among auction houses and online sales and social media platforms, the passing of many cherished industry friends and the closing of some long-established shops. While this market evolution is typical of other business segments and industries, it definitely feels personal to the many dealers and antiquers displaced by this attrition and loss of friends-fellow dealers and collectors-that contributed to a lifetime of memories and experiences more precious than the items bought and sold between them. It also leaves the impression that ours is truly an “antique” profession, destined to go the way of brown furniture in the wake of changing design tastes and interests among next generation buyers and collectors, and their inclination to search and shop without ever leaving home.
Yet, in the wake of cancelled antique shows and shuttered shops we are seeing the next evolution of the antiques business in the rise of vintage bazaars, tailgate gatherings, junktique markets, salvage and upcycled shops, maker co-ops, and indoor flea markets, many in malls taking over space once the home to now defunct big box stores. By rebranding “antiques” to make space on the shelves for items more appropriately labeled as mid-century modern, “prims,” vintage, farmhouse, shabby chic, collectibles, upcycled, and classic, these businesses and shops, like the items that define them, are attracting a new and younger generation of buyers and collectors inspired to think differently about decorating with and collecting items from their past.
We may bemoan the fact that the antiques business will never be what it was but we can take comfort in how these changes are making events such as Brimfield, Madison-Bouckville, Round Top and the Renninger Extravaganzas, among many others, and the new multi-vendor malls and niche shows cropping up all over the country, more appealing to a broader audience of buyers and enthusiasts with aesthetically broader interests. This, and record-breaking auctions across many emerging segments of the antiques and collectible market this past year bode well for our future, and show a strong and continued appreciation for the objects of our past, even if those objects are different than those traditionally associated with our marketplace.
In this issue we take a look back on a few iconic American brands and products that officially turn “antique” at 100 years old in the coming year, including the pop-up toaster, rotary-dial telephone, Fanny Farmer chocolates, and Hostess CupCakes, to name a few. From their past to the present, they leave a century-long trail of everything from packaging to product and promotional adverting items that, with this new designation, are now more collectible than ever, and potentially more valuable.
We also take a look at the rising pop culture collectibles market with Gary Sullivan, co-founder of GEMR, a new online community and marketplace for collectors. Gary addresses the somewhat recent expansion of what would commonly be considered a collectible, especially to younger adults. “While older collectors might think of more traditional items such as model trains, antique clocks, dolls, or coins, there has been a distinct rise in the popularity of more mass-produced and easily acquired items like action figures and molded vinyl figures called Funko Pops.”
Amanda Sheriff, associate editor of Gemstone Publishing and the author of The Overstreet Price Guide to Star Wars Collectibles, takes us to a galaxy far, far away with her in-depth look at the explosive market for Star Wars Collectibles, “3-3/4″ action figures and movie posters from the late ’70s and ’80s to five-figure prices – feats that are not replicated by its contemporaries.”
Regardless of what you collect or are inspired to collect, what has been true remains true – to truly experience the thrill of the hunt you need to get out into the world again. Attend a show or an antiques and collectibles flea market. Visit the shops in your town and plan day trips to visit others (our Shop Finder Directory is a great resource for finding antiquing destinations). Attend a local auction. See what’s available; touch and connect with things; learn from experienced dealers, where you can ask, “What is this?” and “What can you tell me about it?”
While antiques and collectibles make thoughtful and special gifts all year long, there is no better time to visit an antique shop than during the holidays when to just walk in the door will take you back to your childhood with their vintage holiday decorations. A great place to start is with our Annual Holiday Antique Shopping Guide (available in print and online), where over 70 antique shops, malls, and flea markets from around the country look to make it onto your shopping list this holiday season.
All of us at the Journal of Antiques & Collectibles thank you for another year and the opportunity to share our passion for collecting and interest in the antique collectibles marketplace with you. We wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season.
Past, Present, & Future Collectibles