Collectible plates are now one of the mainstay categories of the collectors' market.
Why: Plates can be beautiful. As works of art they are small, easy to display, and are not difficult to move.
Collecting rules: With the rising interest in collectibles, there are signs of a glut in the collector's plate market. So, buy carefully:
Limit the selection to plates whose "edition limit" has been announced. The limit announcement should be in numbers. Don't buy anything in which the limits are vague, for example, "firing days."
Avoid plates decorated with copies of original work done by artists for other purposes.
Aim for decorations by artists with good reputations in the collectors' plate world.
Buy plates when they're first issued. You'll get the best bargains if you do this.
Ask the dealer if you can take the plate on a trial basis for several days to see if, in addition to buying the plate as a investment, you actually like living with it on display. Like all collectibles, it may be difficult to sell, and you may have to live with it for a long time. And plates, although they provide much pleasure to the eye, don't collect interest or dividends, unlike savings accounts and stocks collectables plates.
Safeguarding Collectables: You may regard your collectibles-paintings, porcelains, stamps, coins, old books, jewelry, etc.-mainly for the enjoyment they bring you. But with their values soaring, there are precautions you should take.
Recommendations: Keep an up-to-date listing (both at home and in your safe-deposit box) of when and where each item was bought and what was paid. Include, too, a full description (with photo, if possible) of the item that should cover its history, current appraised value, any additional costs incurred, and where it is kept.
Keep the bills of sale in your safe-deposit box.
It may be desirable to store your smaller collectibles in a safe-deposit box. Check if the bank or the insurance policy insures the item while it's in a vault.
Learn from the experts how best to keep your collection clean and resistant to temperature changes, and what the best methods of storage are. (Good books are available for guidance for almost every type of collectible.)
Mark the collection somehow with your name, Social Security number, or other identification, to help recover your valuables if they are lost or stolen.
Protect rare coins by using Plexiglas or Mylar holders. Caution: Avoid using cheap plastic holders made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Reason: The vapor emitted from these holders turns copper coins green, which reduces their value.
Cleaning delicate antiques. To wash valuable porcelain objects, use equal parts of high quality ammonia and water. Rinse and dry with a soft cloth. Note: If the objects have gilt trim, don't use ammonia. Instead: Use a mild synthetic detergent and warm water. Rinse with distilled water, and dry with a soft cloth. For delicate glass or crystal, wash with warm soapy water, then air-dry. Don't rinse off the soap, which serves as a lubricant.
Cleaning antique rugs. Vacuum once a month, using a machine with a low-suction or brush attachment. For gentler cleaning: Use a carpet sweeper. In cold climates, throw the rug upside down on the snow. Tap softly on the rug with a broom handle. Take up the rug and see the dirt and dust left on the snow. Note: Don't try this with fragile, worn rugs.
Establishing The Value Of Your Collection: Even if you don't plan to sell the objects, an evaluation is useful. Reasons:
As part of estate planning.
For insurance purposes in case of theft, fire, or flood.
For use as deductible donations. Guidelines for exploring the value of potential collectables:
Determine if the item is a collectible. Check encyclopedias of collecting to see if your object is included. Important: Keep the dominant design motif in mind, because many collectors specialize. An antique mirror ornamented with an eagle may be worth one price to a mirror collector, but a different one to an American eagle specialist.
Visit museums and historical societies. They won't price the object, but they can help you identify it and offer opinions about its age, authenticity, and in many cases, famous collections extant. Also, visit antique dealers to price similar items.
Prepare the piece for evaluation. Don't do more than take a color snapshot and have several prints made. Without expert assistance, never clean, repair, or alter a piece. That is likely to impair and reduce its value, especially if it belongs to one of those categories whose devotees prefer signs of aging.
Check potential value. The best method is to get an expert appraisal. Caution: Never settle for a single assessment, especially if the appraiser might be a potential buyer. Look for appraisers who charge a specified fee. Avoid those who want a percentage of the item's estimated value, which is a temptation to overestimate the piece. Best bet: Consult a member of the American Society of Appraisers. Write for their free directory: American Society of Appraisers, Dulles Airport, Box 17265, Washington, DC 20041.
Ask the art dealer for records on the prices paid at auction for any work by an artist you are in interested in acquiring. A good dealer will have a market catalog if any of the artist's work has been auctioned fairly recently. And that's the best guide to reveal value.
Other possibilities: Check the prices in catalogs. For traditional collectibles, there are excellent guides to recent prices. For newer specialties, catalogs range from highly professional to spurious. Remember, all prices quoted are estimates. You may be able to get more or less, depending upon current demand and also geographic locale. (New York is the antique center; the Midwest is best for memorabilia.) You can also send a photograph of the piece to a reputable auction house.
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Keeping etched plaques and your commemorative plates clean is one of the many challenges you will face when you order such metal nameplates. While these are indeed very durable and can withstand the variations in the weather day in and day out, you will still need to do something to help keep these plaques and tablets clean and presentable. Here are a few tips and tricks that may be useful for when you will need to do some maintenance work on your etched or engraved plaques and nameplates:
Find out what metal your etched plaques are made of first.
Different kinds of metals require different methods of cleaning, and this is due to the fact that some metals are more prone to scratching than others, and a few other metals are not as corrosion resistant or chemical resistant as others are. You need to know what metal your etched plates or commemorative plaques are before you can effectively clean or maintain these.
Don’t use harsh chemicals for cleaning even when these metals are purported to be resistant to chemicals.
Even when you are told that a specific metal is impervious to damage brought about by chemicals, it is advisable that you avoid chemicals when cleaning these. There are other methods that can be used to clean these etched plaques and plates that do not require the use of such harsh cleaning agents, although some people may say that it is faster and more effective if you do use such chemical cleaners.
Wear gloves when cleaning to not only protect your hands but also to protect the metal.
When cleaning your metal etched plaques, it is a good idea for you to wear gloves when doing so. This is to protect your hands from the dirt and grime that may come from doing such a chore as well as to protect the metal from the ill-effects of natural oils on your hands. Natural oils that come from your skin come with acids, sugars and lipids that can actually corrode metal slowly. While constant cleaning of these plaques and plates will help prevent such a thing from occurring, it is still a good idea to wear gloves to ensure that none of these corrosive oils do get on these metal plates in the first place.
While this method is for brass and bronze plaques and plates, you can still use this same cleaning method when you are doing maintenance work on stainless steel as well as aluminum plates. Just make sure that none of your cleaning materials and equipment are abrasive or have a tendency to create scratches on the surface of these plates. Also, make sure that the grooves in these plaques and plates are cleaned as well with non-abrasive tools like cotton swabs and wooden cuticle sticks.
You start off by wiping down the surface dust off of these metal collector plates with the use of a dry, soft rag. Next thing you need to do is to mix a mild dishwashing liquid with half a bucket of warm water. Using dishwashing liquid ensures that greasy dirt is effectively removed from your plaques while ensuring that it is mild enough to not damage the surface of these plates.
Soak a clean, soft rag in the warm water and wipe down the plaque. For dirt caught in the crevices of these plates, use the wooden cuticle stick or a cotton swab to gouge this out slowly. Wipe down the surface again after you do this and repeat if necessary. Once you are done with this step, wipe the plate with a soft, clean rag that is dipped in clean warm water. Follow this with a dry, soft rag to remove any moisture from your plates.
If you want to restore the polish of your etched plaque, a metal polish and a soft rag should do the trick. If some of the dirt in the cracks and grooves of your plate is hard to remove, opt to use a soft baby’s toothbrush and the same water and dishwashing liquid mix to clean these off.
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