Tuesday, August 26, 2008

WHAT IS RICH?

This Martinware bird sold for $36,000 at a March 2008 auction. What is Rich?

Have you heard the comments by the presidential candidates on the "What is rich?" question? We used to argue about this for fun with friends when we were first married. We never thought about several houses, nannies, or extra cars--just a comfortable life with some backup cash for emergencies. But our dreams as collectors were there:

-"Rich is being able to hire a full time handyman to fix broken chair legs, move the antique iron garden urns inside for the winter, and hang pictures."

-"Rich is having someone who will go to the post office and return the broken antiques."

-"Rich is flying in our own plane to the extravaganza flea markets and shows in other parts of the country."

And we also added a few universal wishes--like "I will have someone wash the dishes and empty the dishwasher, dump the trash, and shovel the walks." We never wanted huge amounts of money to buy quantities of antiques because that would take the fun out of the process. We like to shop, study, and buy the unique and wonderful in our price range. It wouldn't be a challenge to buy a long-wanted Martinware bird for $36,000, the March auction price for the one pictured here. We want to find one at a house sale.


Years ago while doing our television shows, we met Malcom Forbes, a multimillionaire collector of collections. We asked him how he bought everything from toy soldiers to inscribed presentation silver to Faberge. He had one personal helper, a secretary who read all of the auction catalogs and marked the pieces he might like. Then he went to the auctions to bid for his choices. He enjoyed the chase and the competition of the bidding, and he had a price limit.

That's the great part about collecting. You can be as successful a collector as a millionaire--you just have to collect different things. Forbes was able to restore a Victorian home in London and furnish it with the best period furniture and paintings. And he used his former residence in Morocco as a special museum for his toy soldier collection. We don't know how many other houses he had, but these two became homes for his collections.

Of course, it would be fun to have lots of big houses. Then there would be room to hang more store signs and display more figurines and find a spot for that strange chair that won't fit in the crowded library. But we like living in one house, even if our collections and our library books are complaining that they need more space.

17 comments:

1st Mate said...

Definitely, not having to fly commercial would contribute to the quality of life, considering what an ordeal flying has become. But I think I'd like to be living life slowly enough I could drive a well-appointed RV to the shows and do away with restaurants and hotels. I thought it was interesting you'd keep doing the cooking and hire somebody for the cleanup. So would I!

Anonymous said...

That really rings true, great article!
Ina

Janna Heart said...

This is 100% how I feel about it. However, after dealing with the people who made my washer today, I want enough money for a personal secretary who can deal with all the mundane details of life while I collect more things!

Janna Heart said...

This is 100% my feelings too. However, today as I was dealing with the manufacturer of my less than 2yr old washer with the mold growing inside, I wished I could hire someone to deal with all the people and stuff I don't want to deal with, lol!

Joan said...

Long before I believed great financial wealth would be a burden, I viewed time as my ultimate luxury, to use or squander as necessary. To that end, I don't wear a watch. Like money, time is a "flowing" stream. And, much like the proverbial blanket that get's pulled side to side...it neither increases or decreases...but I get to spend it just as I wish, most of the time.

Anonymous said...

I like your comments. But to me, what is rich is to have a fresh newly made bed every night.

Alice said...

Ralph & Terry... you really are my kind of people! This is exactly how I feel. I have been collecting & selling for 45+ years, and still get the same anticipation in the hunt, and the same thrill of the find. I have always enjoyed studying the history of finds & appreciate you for your great contributions though out the years. I feel like we are old friends! Thank you!
Alice S.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I married in 1956, while we were both in college,and when he got his first job, a friend and I used to think that if our husbands ever made $10,000, the wives could quit working and live very comfortably. The more we have, the more we want. Rich is being happy with what you need, plus having a few "wants."

Anonymous said...

Why ask you know what RICH is Mr&Mrs Kovel.You worked hard for it.I was in an acident at 28 that stoped a lot in my life,never got rich in money but my life has been very rich with love.I've been lucky.I'm 55 now and still Happy. Renee

Anonymous said...

We live in a 1300 sq. foot 1913 house. The walls are lined with original art, antiques and collectables, including over 100 eggbeaters (I'm a Chef) fill but do not clutter the house - it's all about geometry. The fun is in the hunt for what you love and can afford.

Anonymous said...

Very amusing and insightful. Our wants and dreams are not that different...Now that I have retired from the work-a-day world, being "rich" would mean having someone to take care of the daily farm and household chores, leaving me time for collecting, sewing, painting, reading...all the things that are truly "luxuries", if your time is absorbed with daily "duties". Until two years ago, we owned a small country store. That was great because I could display, sell and "play" with my antiques and not create "overflow" at home!! I have never been able to "minimalize". Jane Marcella
BRIARGATE FARMS

Anonymous said...

If you found a $36,000 bird mis-priced at a house sale, wouldn't you feel compelled to tell the seller? I could not ever enjoy something if I bought it knowing what it was worth without disclosing that to the seller. "Do unto others..."

Russell said...

Joan said it best when she stated that time is our most precious and valuable resource we ,as collectors, have.
Regardless of how much money you may or may not have, the thrill of the hunt and the ability to search for that next perfect treasure is truly rich to me. Collecting not only creates happiness and beauty, but with each new piece, that next investment has been made as well.
A made bed at night and a shoveled walk doesn't hurt either;)

Anonymous said...

I don't care if it sold for 36K. That is one ugly bird. The eye of the beholder, or should I say the collector, I guess.

Sue McCranie said...

I have a beautiful blue vase with the artist signature imprinted on the bottom. It has a star over a stretched jumping cat and I cannot identify what is under the cat. Do you have any idea of this artist mark? The vase also has four bubbles that have broken and look like little Moon craters on the side. I know that this was done during making of this vase. The vase is 3 1/2 inches in diameter at the base and gradually gets larger toward the top. It has small ridges all the way from the bottom to the top. The top opening measures 6 inches in diamter. But, I have researched it for hours and cannot find any results. Can you help?
Thanks, Suellen

Sue McCranie said...

I have a beautiful blue vase with the artist signature imprinted on the bottom. It has a star over a stretched jumping cat and I cannot identify what is under the cat. Do you have any idea of this artist mark? The vase also has four bubbles that have broken and look like little Moon craters on the side. I know that this was done during making of this vase. The vase is 3 1/2 inches in diameter at the base and gradually gets larger toward the top. It has small ridges all the way from the bottom to the top. The top opening measures 6 inches in diamter. But, I have researched it for hours and cannot find any results. Can you help?
Thanks, Suellen

M said...

Hmmm? this is one of my favorite games. First I would have houses/flats all over the world in whatever the indigenous architecture is.
I would travel. staying at my houses at whatever the best season is in that place. or how I felt.
that would be rich!
I think having a valet would be good too. to take care of the details. since as a female having a wife would be redundant.
Marcia