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updated: 1/14/2014 9:48 AM

Classic collectibles remain hot this year

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  • Speaking Dog, a cast-iron bank made in the late 1800s, has a substantive value. However, an identical piece with the girl in a blue dress can sell for more -- $1,500 if in original condition.

      Speaking Dog, a cast-iron bank made in the late 1800s, has a substantive value. However, an identical piece with the girl in a blue dress can sell for more -- $1,500 if in original condition.

  • Cobalt dishes are fairly common in midpriced antiques shops

      Cobalt dishes are fairly common in midpriced antiques shops

  • Collectors of country items have always had a fondness for vintage and antique farm tools.

      Collectors of country items have always had a fondness for vintage and antique farm tools.

  • One of the best things about collecting souvenir spoons is their affordability.

      One of the best things about collecting souvenir spoons is their affordability.

  • The antebellum girl figures in hoop skirts atop the hutch are often favorites among collectors of antique cast-iron doorstops.

      The antebellum girl figures in hoop skirts atop the hutch are often favorites among collectors of antique cast-iron doorstops.

 
By Franklin and Esther Schmidt
Country Sampler magazine

Editor's note: This week we conclude our two-part series on 10 hot collectibles for 2014, which began in last week's Homes Sunday section.

It is not unexpected that many of the most popular collectibles have been classics for years and remain so. However, the value of these items is relative.

When thinking of value, it's not necessarily what price is being asked, but who is doing the asking and who is doing the buying. For example, an identical item can cost $5 at a yard sale, be sold at an auction for three times that, be priced at $50 at a moderate antiques shop, and go for quite a bit more from a well-known dealer in a high-end store.

Although there are rules of thumb and even so-called "catalog" price ranges for many kinds of collectibles, an item's cost still comes down to how much a seller wants to charge and what a buyer is willing to pay.

It is also difficult for longtime collectors to know the value of their goods, as their items have often been inherited, received as gifts or purchased for a bargain. However, sometimes these items were bought for high prices at the height of collecting fads (think graniteware or even Beanie Babies), and now their value is a small percentage of what collectors paid.

Still, during the past year, these classics on our list have turned up more frequently in shops and in the homes of country collectors, which earns them a spot on our list of the 10 most sought-after collectibles of 2014.

Here's the second half of the list:

6. Cobalt blue dishes and tableware

The owner of this collection loves cobalt dishware because, she says, "They blend so well with both my good china and my everyday dishes." Most of these examples are handblown imports from Mexico and Eastern Europe. "I've been collecting it for 10 years and got my first plates -- eight dinner and salad size -- at a yard sale and paid a total of about $30 for all of it," she says. "I buy it everywhere I find it."

Cobalt dishes are fairly common in midpriced antiques shops and at country antiques shows and auctions. If you buy online, you might be paying two to three times the price found at shops, flea markets, yard sales and other physical outlets. Among the more unusual pieces shown here is the brandy glass (below, second from left) found at an antiques show for $10; it is worth about $25. The ribbed 10-inch dinner plate (bottom left) was $12, and the flat 5-inch plate (bottom right) cost around $7. The small bowl appears to be a make-do cut from a drinking glass and filed down. The two cobalt birds on the table originally cost $35 for the pair and are now worth about $150.

7. Metal doorstops

Antique cast-iron doorstops are highly decorative, artful and useful. The better, older pieces were factory-made but hand painted in the late 1880s. According to Frank and Yvonne Lisa, the owners of this collection, the antebellum girl figures in hoop skirts atop the hutch are often favorites among collectors. The floral examples are also highly popular and collectible.

It is rare to walk through a medium- to high-priced antiques shop without spotting at least a few of these doorstops. However, the best ones, according to the Lisas, come from collections that are going through an auction. Like so many other popular antiques and early vintage pieces, there are lots of reproductions being made. Although some of the finest and earliest antique doorstops can run into the hundreds of dollars -- the good ones ranging from $400 to $1,200 -- much later and even current reproduction pieces are available from $25 to $60 each. If you just love the look, the replicas may be fine. However, if the real deal is important to you, be aware that they are a bit pricey and sometimes difficult to differentiate from the reproductions.

8. Farm implements

Collectors of country items have always had a fondness for vintage and antique farm implements. For those with a yard, they make great design elements in gardens and along fence borders. On the other hand, anyone can appreciate these objects' architectural beauty and can bring them indoors to hang as wall art.

What makes these items so popular is their relative low cost plus their ability to evoke thoughts of rural living in the past. Among the best places to find such tools are country auctions of farm equipment, which are frequently held in rural towns. The items pictured here range in price from $10 to $45 and up: The red painted harrow at left commands a higher price, and the small white wagon wheel on the ground is on the lower end of the scale. The lower price point for farm tools is not based on the workmanship or sculptural quality; instead, so many of these items were made -- and made soundly -- that they held up well over the decades and are still in abundance today.

9. Souvenir spoons

Longtime antiques fan Lois Ilardi has been collecting souvenir spoons since she was 10 years old, when she fell in love with one in a shop while on vacation. Soon, family and friends knew what to buy her for birthdays and holidays. "One of the best things about collecting spoons," she explains, "is their affordability." Most of the pieces shown here are less than $10 and many even less than that. Mostly, price is based on material. Sterling-silver spoons can be found for much more money (often predicated on their silver melt-down weight, plus the value of the design); others with some historic value can also run above this basic price range.

Among the more affordable and decorative spoons seen here is the set of four floral-patterned pieces put out by Avon in 1988 and only for that year. Lois says that the set can be found for between $35 and $50. Although Lois says she doesn't know the value of many of the spoons because they were gifts, her favorites include the one with the snake design running up the handle that came from Egypt, the jade-handled example and the one with the V-shaped handle designed for resting on the side of a teacup.

10. Cast-iron banks

Cast-iron banks were first manufactured in the last half of the 19th century, and their popularity continues to grow. Some of them move when a coin is put into them, and some are stationary. All of them are whimsical, as they were meant to entice children to save their money -- and the market for them continues to rise.

Anyone interested in beginning to collect early metal banks should learn to recognize the difference between old and new versions. For instance, uneven joinery where the segments of metal come together is among the telltale signs that indicate a reproduction. Antique banks have a smooth, almost indistinguishable seam, but newly made examples have raised seams.

The banks shown here were factory-made but hand-painted directly onto the metal without being primed. That is why early ones with most of the color intact are so rare. As is often the case, color affects value for these banks. The piece Speaking Dog (right) features a girl in a red dress -- however, although this example has a substantive value, the identical piece with the girl in a blue dress sells for a great deal more money. This bank made in the late 1800s, if original, can go for $1,500. There is always some flexibility in price based on condition and rarity, but the value range for the banks shown is roughly $1,500 to $4,000.

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