How To Build Antique Collections: The Exotic Star
Previously, we discussed beginning a collection by selecting a few “stars” from which to build around. Once you have added a star to your collection, you might be ready for what we refer to as “The Exotic Star.” “The Exotic Star” is a piece of art, antique or collectible that is out of your comfort zone or expertise of knowledge. If you are just beginning, then selecting a star will probably be the same as selecting an “Exotic Star.”
A large part of collecting is the process of learning that goes with each piece. Most collectors want to know everything they can about their works including: the artist, how the piece was made or manufactured, and even the context and history of the time period. Many collectors have become, quite literally, the experts on the subjects they collect—bringing them enormous pride.
There was once a time, before mass media, when gentlemen of leisure—and those who aspired to that position—studied and read books on artifacts and the history of them. These gentleman’s collections would become the basis of some of our best known modern-day museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, for example, had great benefactors who donated their personal collections which focused on the contributor’s passions and their legacy lives on at the museum.
While you may not be ready for a museum donation or have the resources of some of those who did large contributions, it should not deter you from building a deeply meaningful collection for yourself and potentially those that might inherit it. One part of building the collection is the selection of “The Exotic Star.”
“The Exotic Star” is a relative term. If you have collected paintings then your “Exotic Star” might be a porcelain or bronze work. But, exotic might be something as similar as a drawing or even a different type of subject in painting. You will know you have chosen such a star by the uncomfortable feeling you get in the pit of your stomach. That gnawing feeling like you might have just bought something that, while beautiful, you know nothing about and worse are unsure if you paid too much for. Embrace that feeling. It is those moments of discomfort when you know something real has happened to you and that should propel you to learn more about what you just bought. Learning should be the goal of any collector.
One such subject few are specialized in, even professional dealers, is stained glass. This is, in the collecting industry what we consider a specialty. Most dealers even if they have been in the business for 40 years or more can not know all there is to know about each type of object in the world. So when art and antique dealer veteran, David Smernoff of From Here To Antiquity purchased a piece a stained glass, he knew further research would be needed to know what he had bought. “The stained glass was stunning and I have been around long enough to know quality workmanship when I see it. The work felt like it possibly could have been the painter, muralist and stained glass maker John La Farge [1835–1910] a one time friend and then rival of Louis Comfort Tiffany,” says Smernoff. After further research, the piece was found to be Daniel Cottier [1837-1891] who influenced not only the Pre-Raphaelites but also was said to heavily influence Louis Comfort Tiffany’s own stained glass window designs.
For most, buying stained glass as part of your own collection would certainly qualify as an “Exotic Star.” The rush of learning, and the process of discovery should push each collector when building the perfect antique collection. It is important to challenge yourself and when you can chose an “Exotic Star.”
This “Exotic Star” stained glass piece could be part of your personal collection. Read more about it below or if you need help buying or collecting you can contact David Smernoff of From Here To Antiquity Tel: (203) 271-7977.