What All Collectors Absolutely, Positively Must Know

WE ASKED THE EXPERTS AT HERITAGE AUCTIONS TO SHARE THEIR MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE. AFTER THOUGHTFUL DELIBERATION, HERE ARE THEIR WORDS OF WISDOM.

Illustrations by Mark Stokes

“The difference between a collector and a compulsive shopper is the passion collectors bring to their area of interest … a clear-eyed focus on acquiring the very best and the absolute thrill of the hunt for that elusive item to add to their collection.”
Jonathon Burford
Consignment Director, Timepieces

“Think more about the future resale of an item before you acquire it. Is it something really special that someone else is going to desire someday, something they will pay a premium for?”
Todd Imhof
Executive Vice President

“Just because something is old, does not mean it is valuable. Value is created by the market … supply versus demand. A great example is an ancient coin. Some Greco-Roman coins are very affordable – even though they are thousands of years old. Many times, these coins are far less valuable than an important 20th century coin.”
Carolyn Mani
Consignment Director

“Know what you have! Appraisals are important because you might have an actual Norman Rockwell painting rather than a print, or you might not have a piece from King Tut’s tomb. Knowing what you have will help you make better financial decisions about how to care for your collection and how to plan for your future. Better to know now that your prized Tiffany lamp is really a Tif-faux-ny!”
Meredith Meuwly
Director, Appraisal Services

“One’s biggest regrets in collecting usually come in the form of opportunities passed upon.”
Steve Ivy
CEO, Co-Chairman

“My father, legendary Fort Worth art dealer Dutch Phillips, always said there’s really only one rule in collecting: Buy only what you love, because you never know if you’ll get stuck with it.”
Atlee Phillips
Director, Texas Art

“Find an auction house with the expertise and connections to help build your collection. Establish a personal relationship with them so they understand which items are right for your collection and fit your budget.”
David Stone
Intelligent Collector columnist and Numismatic Cataloger

“As with any venture, collecting in any area has a steep learning curve. Do your research, trust your gut, and be prepared to make mistakes.”
Sandra Palomino
Director, Historical Manuscripts

“Materials matter. If something is made of buffalo hide and white-heart red beads, it is generally worth more than something made of deer hide and orangey-red beads.”
Delia E. Sullivan
Director, American Indian Art

Buy what makes you smile. Buy what you have a personal connection with. Collecting is fun!”
Jim Lentz
Director, Animation Art

“Buying the best in any collectibles field, even if the price seems steep at the time, is almost always the wisest decision. Such items will continue to bring pride of ownership, and will most often prove to be the best investments. Most seasoned collectors will acknowledge that the purchases they most regret are lesser items they bought mainly because they appeared to be bargains at the time.”
Tom Slater
Director, Americana Auctions

“Knowledge is key. The resources available today blow away what we had a decade ago. Beyond books, there is the HA.com archive, with more than 2.5 million auction records, and Heritage’s staff of numismatists is always happy to answer questions. Heritage chose transparency and tore down that veil of secret knowledge to create a better collecting experience for all. It’s here, it’s free, use it!”
Dustin Johnston
Consignment Director, Currency

“I always tell my clients never buy art purely as an investment. Buy what you love. Buy with your heart, but with an educated heart. Know the material, understand the market, and buy what you want to live with – buy what will give you joy. And odds are you will have made a sound investment.”
Aviva Lehmann
Director, American Art

“The most effective collection strategy, as far as potential for value appreciation goes, is to aggressively pursue items of superb quality and condition. Find an item that stands out on its beauty and preservation and pursue it aggressively at auction. Chances are nearly certain that other collectors will do the same in the future.”
Cristiano Bierrenbach
Executive Vice President

“Buy quality and don’t be afraid to stretch for the best pieces. Excellent works will have staying power for you personally, and are more likely to hold their value or appreciate. Over time, the enticements of something being a good deal will wear off.”
Marianne Berardi
Senior Expert, Fine Art

“An intelligent collector knows when they don’t know enough. It is at these times that collectors can learn more by seeking additional information and trustworthy advice. The rewards are exponential in feeding the collector’s passion itself – and isn’t that the point?”
Sam Foose
Consignment Director, Coins

“Look after your collection and one day it may look after you.”
Nick Dawes
Vice President-Special Collections

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