It’s no secret among those who know me that I love books. I buy lots of books, I sign them out of the library and I buy them at Mandolin Books, our local used book / coffee shop. One of the books I recently bought had the above title. It was written in 1977 by Canadian author/doctor/politician Morton Schulman now deceased.
Now, although this was written over 30 years ago I was curious to find out what advice he had to give and how it turned out. I read through the small book and had to agree with much of what he said. His pocketbook to invest in art and antiques was fatter than most of ours but his advice would apply to any level of collecting.
I have summarized some of his rules here:
– Look for beautiful art objects. Styles may come and go but beauty is always sought after.
– Old is usually better than new. If it’s old there won’t be any more of its type made and it can travel freely across borders without import duties.
– Always buy the best of its type. The good always keep their value far better than the mediocre or second rate.
– As a rule it’s best to avoid modern art. There is too much to choose from and the exceptions are too hard to pick out. (I had a good chuckle here – he predicted that Jackson Pollock’s art would be a passing fad and that his paintings would drop in value – if only he had known!)
– Specialize in a field that gives you pleasure.
– Buy small objects. They increase in value faster than larger pieces (so true!)
– Don’t be afraid to buy objects that need repairs.
– Don’t collect today’s fads. If it hits the front pages – sell!
– Look for art objects wherever you visit.
– Frequent the dispersals of large collections owned by a famous person. At least view the catalogue.
– Avoid fragile objects, erotic antiques, and “limited editions”
– Remember that folk art costs half or less at its point of origin.
– Usually auctions are the best places to buy but avoid small auctions. (This really depends on your knowledge or expertise).
– If working through a dealer check his reputation at local galleries, shops…
– Avoid newly discovered “old masterpieces”. Avoid fakes by learning as much as you can before you buy.
– Don’t rush – take your time making purchases.
– For maximum return expect to hang on to your pieces for a minimum of one year – or more, depending on your local taxation rules.