“The hidden treasure that lies in plain sight!”
Collecting miniatures is such a lovely pastime and for those of us who have been avid collecters for decades it can lead to two very important considerations… downsizing and insuring our collections. Last year I was given a lovely little French notebook with blank pages and recently put it to good use as an inventory ledger. Unsure where to start, I began with the first room in my dollhouse and worked my way through all the rest… and then my “stash”. I did not list every item, just the pieces I felt were noteworthy- famous maker or the price paid. I listed the maker, price paid and a brief description.
At this point I felt confident that I had a comprehensive accounting of the “valuables” in my dollhouse and stash. I tallied up the minis in my little inventory ledger. I then knew the base acquisition value (vs. actual monetary value or open market price) of my dollhouse and its contents (what you pay for an item is not its actual worth, that is determined by many other factors including appreciation, collectibility, etc but we won’t get into the weeds on that). Like most prolific collectors, I assumed my collection wasn’t worth much but seeing it on paper made me wonder if I should insure it and who to ask. Are there dedicated insurers of miniature collections out there, or pencil-pushers who will look at me like I have two heads when I explain that I have a custom built dollhouse with some crystal chandeliers and a Randall Zadar figurine? This question is currently on hold until I do a little research and talk with those in the mini world who are knowledgeable about such things.
Meanwhile, I also weeded out pieces I no longer fancy and put them into the “downsize pile” (which quickly became mountainous) to sell at a later date and let someone else enjoy. Sound like a good plan? I thought so too, until the unimaginable happened.
Suffice it to say I’ve been collecting long enough to believe that I had a grip on the ordinary vs. the collectible/valuable miniatures in my collection… until I began shopping online for a mini basket to use in an upcoming project.
The funny thing about rabbit holes is you fall into them before you even know they are there. Just saying…
There I was, surfing eBay and then Etsy looking for a basket when I noticed a fancy wall table similar to one I had purchased on eBay in the 1990’s. I bought two tables actually, a matching pair with no maker marks, and paid about $14.00 for both. Neither table is itemized in my inventory ledger because I didn’t pay much for them and didn’t know who made them. Well, the joke was on me because further research revealed the tables were made by a giant among miniature artists- the late Eugene Kupjack and being sold today for approximately $1,500.00 for the pair! Had I failed to include them in my ledger, my collection will not be adequately insured and, I cringe to say this, had I not found them quite so enchanting, I might have put them in the downsize pile and sold them without knowing what they are!
So what’s hiding in your miniature stash?
Have you ever wondered? Don’t assume it’s “not much” as I did. Most of my minis were collected via eBay in the 1990’s during a time when our kids were little and my budget was even smaller. I also have an affinity for vintage pieces and was happy to dig through old boxes of “junk” at dollhouse shops that had been in business for decades. A few pennies here and there and I went home with some hidden treasures that nobody else saw much value in and the same could be true for you, especially if you’re a bargain hunter.
If you have unusual or unmarked pieces in your possession, why not do a Google search and see what you can find? Post photos on social media and see if others can identify them. Chances are someone will recognize what you have and offer a little insight.
Above all, do yourself (and your family) a favor and consider creating an inventory ledger. With a few exceptions (like mine), you know your collection better than anyone else. Only you can know what you paid for an item and where you found it or who made it. Unless your family shares your devotion to dollhouse miniatures, they are in the dark when it comes to value. I’ve had relatives who admired a piece of Bespaq furniture and were shocked by the price (I leave/put the price tags on the bottom of my minis)!
Even if you do not follow through with insuring your collection, you and your family will know what you have and roughly what it’s worth. A “few dollars” spent here and there over the years really adds up and it’s good to know where you are. You may discover a jewel in the rough, or not. In one sense it’s kind of like a lottery… you can’t win if you don’t play.
Sorting through minis is fun and you may hit the Eugene Kupjack-pot!
©Copyright 2019 Crown Jewel Miniatures. All rights reserved.