Why do we collect, and what is it that we choose to collect?   These two questions were considered during the MAG Conversation between antique collectors Nick Previsich and Joe Gallaro and the audience gathered at the SideCar Café in Merrickville. Nick and Joe offered insights into what makes an item collectable – it can be the age of the item, its provenance, and who owned it. It can be its design that makes it collectable, its rarity, and its part in the history of the item itself. Collecting as a hobby began during the 1800s when members of society’s aristocracy began to collect curios and fine art for their homes. As prosperity increased, the art of collecting furniture became more popular.

Joe and Nick each discussed, in particular, the chairs they had brought with them. Nick chose a mid-century chair with rosewood detailing that set it apart from other mid-century chairs. He told the audience how he had stumbled upon them in a jumble sale. Joe chose an 18th century wooden kitchen chair that had been handcrafted in North America, and was well used, as noted by the hand rubbed finish. Both chairs had value according to these two collectors, but their value and history was distinct.

As the evening progressed, the discussion turned to the reason people collect certain things now. Personal taste was identified as the prime reason. One audience member asked, how do we know if what we are collecting is worth something. Both Joe and Nick told stories about how they had started to collect something that was valuable at one time, and had experienced the fickleness of the market when the value diminished considerably. In other words, they said, it’s hard to predict what will hold its value, and what the value will be when you wish to sell it again.

Nick and Joe gave us some interesting advice. They said, collect what you love. Collect because you want to have the item in your home, not because you want to make an investment. And don’t count on your family feeling the same way as you do about your treasures. Taste is individual.