Creating a Collector’s Provenance

Collections should be documented

Collections should be documented

Some time back I received a lengthy email from a very nice person who signed her name as “Ladyhawk”. She shared with me the many collections that she had in her own home. She has been a collector for almost 40 years and over the years has seen her share of interesting items. Some she bought, some she did not.

What is interesting however is what she did for those items she bought. She documented them.

This is what she had to say:

When I find a piece I first take a photo of it. I then get any history I can from the person who is selling it – whether at a garage sale, antique store, or other source.

I document where I bought it and how much I paid for it. I also do some research in books or on line to determine what the value would be in the market today.

She went on to say that she put all this information into a book for her son to refer to should anything ever happen to her.

This is a great idea for someone to do. Most collectors know what they have but their spouse or family may just look at “Mom or Dad’s old things” and assume there is no value. Why else do you think garage sales and estate sales are so popular?

Just one cautionary note however: Be skeptical about the stories associated with items. Some people will create a good story just to sell something and it may be an outright lie. Don’t pay any extra for provenance when you buy antiques unless you get some actual documentation, bills of sale, photographs etc.

Either way the documenting that Ladyhawk is doing is an absolutely excellent idea. It will be especially beneficial when the time comes for her (or her son) to sell her antiques.