Collector’s Corner: Collecting 101

Friday, July 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A column dedicated for those who are and those who aspire to become packrats.

by Steve Warren,

So you want to be a collector. You’re in good company. Collecting is now a popular past time in the United States. The popularity of the PBS series “Antiques Roadshow” has spawned many other television shows on collecting. All of the shows have one premise – you had better check on an item’s value before giving it away or selling it at a garage sale. Recently 6,500 free tickets for an “Antiques Roadshow” taping in Tulsa went in less than one hour.

With the various on-line auctions, such as eBay, collectors do not even have to brave their local flea markets or antiques stores in search of treasure. However, many collectors, including myself, share the belief that searching for treasure is just as much fun as finding it.

What do you collect?

It’s simple. Collect something you enjoy. Better yet, get your wife or husband involved in your collecting activity. It’s an activity that could result in spending quality time together.

Knowledge is power. Ignorance is bliss.

Collectors prove that statement true all the time. Strive to learn everything you can about your chosen area of interest. Look for books, periodicals, old and new price guides, and other information that can help you identify pieces that you may find. Your research might save you from shelling out a lot of money for an item that is a reproduction, not an original. Fakes and reproductions are plentiful. You have to keep a sharp eye out for them. Fakes will be discussed in detail an upcoming article.

Share knowledge and kinship with other collectors.

Join a local club in your area of interest. Network with other collectors. Most collectors are willing to share information as long as you are willing to share as well. Go on-line and join newsgroups in your field. For example, the group at is made up of Civil War collectors across the nation. Anyone interested in Civil War relics can go to their web site and sign up for a free membership. Members receive daily e-mails from cwcollect group members as they discuss all areas of Civil War collecting with each other.

Three things you should always keep in mind

When sizing up a piece for your collection, always think -- condition, condition, condition. An item’s condition is how its value will always be judged, whether you or the top collector in the country owns it. The more perfect condition of the item is what makes it collectible.

So you want to be a collector? Pick your field. Go forth and remember, a collecting hobby is FUN!!

Steve Warren is a writer-producer for An avid Civil War amateur historian and collector, he is always looking for homeless Civil War relics or those “rusty pieces of metal” as his wife likes to call them. He invites you to e-mail him with suggestions for future articles on “Collector’s Corner.” You can e-mail him at