The Art of Collecting Antiques

Here’s What Everyone Should Know About Collecting Antiques

Some South African families whose ancestors go back a number of generations, have what they call, all that “stuff” that gets passed down from mother to daughter, from grandfather to grandson.  It could be that solid, heavy, ornate side server, the dining room and chairs or the four-poster bed. Others have a great-aunt whose house is filled with porcelain “beautiful ladies”, dogs or a collection of porcelain dolls. You, yourself, might have a penchant for collecting knives, corkscrews or art deco costume jewellery or you’ve kept all those old-fashioned fifties’ flint lighters or have your collection of old comics stuck away in a cupboard somewhere.

Well, all those things fall under the category of antiques or collectables and could provide you with a nice little nest egg for the future. Whether you’ve inherited a family member’s collection or whether you’re toying with the idea of starting your own collection, there is no question that antique collecting is another form of investment – and a profitable one at that!

With stocks and shares always on the slippery slope of volatility, many people are taking advantage of investing in tangible items that cannot only be felt, touched and appreciated, but that offer a tangible investment and to top it all are exempt from capital gains tax. In the medium to long-term, most good quality antiques and art do appreciate in value and experts, at a conservative estimate, put the minimum appreciation at around 10% a year.

So, what are South Africans investing in and what makes for a good investment. Before you jump on the bandwagon, you need to understand the difference between “antiques” and “collectables”. Antiques are usually anything that is over 100 years old and “collectables” refer to “younger” items that have become highly desirable as collector’s items. Whilst a painting by one of the old masters or a rare Louis XIV chair is a top of the range investment that will always give a high return, there are other, more recent collecting disciplines that investors can enjoy and which will give a good return. In antique furniture, collectors are going for the more practical items that they can display in their homes, like armoirs, military chests, dining room tables and chairs, chiffoniers and extremely decorative items. These can range in price from R 5 000 to over R100 000 per piece.

Collecting silverware remains one of the most popular disciplines and the trend worldwide is away from elaborate bulky pieces to smaller pieces that by their very nature make them easy to store, show and maintain with often higher values. The more popular collecting disciplines include collecting things like vinaigrettes, caddy spoons, baby’s rattles, nutmeg graters, pin cushions, Irish silver and novelty silver.

Other collecting disciplines that are highly desirable and offer a good investment include collecting books, maps, coins, stamps and military memorabilia. History is a good preserver and anything related to any particular historical period, a specific war or battle will, as time goes by, become more sought after.

All the antique dealers who take part in the monthly antique fairs that take place in Johannesburg and Pretoria are members of the NAADA Association which ensures that the dealers have bona fide trading  licenses and run ethical businesses in accordance with South Africa’s 2nd Hand Goods Act.

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