Many of you all know from reading this post, that I just returned from a week-long trip to NYC to antique, attend amazing art shows, shop for Vintage clothes, and generally enjoy one of my favorite cities in the world. A particularly valuable experience was previewing the many items up for grabs in the Sotheby’s American Folk Art Auction. Regardless of whether you are “in the market” for a new piece of art or furniture, or not, attending an Art Auction Preview can be a highly valuable and educational opportunity.
One benefit of attending an Art Auction Preview is the chance to get very up-close and personal with the art and antiques. Unlike a museum visit, every single item on display is for sale. And just like buying a car, or clothes, or a house….buyers want to see every facet of the item they are considering acquiring. So, you can touch the pieces (respectfully). You can open drawers or cabinets on the furniture. If you want to see the back-side or under-side of a particular piece, there’s staff available to help you do just that. What a great way to really study how a piece was constructed. Or learn more about painting techniques, or the nuances of original surface. You can’t do any of that close examination at a museum….unless you want to get tossed out on your posterior.
Another benefit of attending an Art Auction Preview is the opportunity to attend a lecture, led by industry experts. Large Auction Houses employ highly educated folks, who utilize the items on display in a preview, as examples for excellent lectures on a myriad of topics. I caught the tail-end of a lecture on 18th Century silver, which I don’t collect, but the information was still very interesting, and worth my attention. The group was small, and very interactive with the staff expert. I can’t think of a better way to learn about a particular niche in the art and antique world.
A third benefit of attending an Art Auction Preview is picking up one of the auction catalogs. They are typically for sale. Every single item included in the sale is photographed, with a sentence or two of description information. The estimated price for which the item might sell is also listed. So, it’s educational in terms of understanding what something might be worth. And then, after the auction is concluded, it’s even more interesting to look on-line at what each piece actually sold for. Sale price could be an indicator of trends within that particular niche, or a reflection of the economy and the strength of the art and antique world. My husband hangs onto catalogs as a reference for items he collects, and their increasing (or decreasing) value over time.
Finally, Art Auction Previews are a fabulous way to meet other collectors or dealers. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation! Most folks are very friendly, and enjoy chatting with others who appreciate the same art or antiques they appreciate. Friendly, unless they realize you might be bidding on something they want too. Then all bets are off! Ha! Kidding. Kind of.
A special thank you to Allan Katz, who is my FAVORITE teacher! I never miss an opportunity to walk through an Art Auction Preview with him. He’s is incredibly knowledgable, and generous with thoughtful comments and explanations. You might recognize him as one of the appraisers on Antiques Roadshow, and I profiled him in this post.
Happy collecting, y’all!